Individuals applying to naturalise as British citizens under s.6(1) of the British Nationality Act (BNA) 1981, should not have broken their links with the UK and should not intend to do so in the future.
- they are over 18 years old;
- they are of good character and sound mind;
- they have sufficient knowledge of English language and have passed a Life in the UK test;
- they have not broken any immigration laws whilst in the UK;
- they have spent less than 90 days outside of the UK in the last 12 months;
- they have spent less than 450 days outside of the UK in the last five years;
- they have been free from immigration controls for at least 12 months; and
- they intend to make the UK their principal home.
The intention to make the UK their principal home, is not a requirement for applicants who are married to British citizens (applying under s.6(2) BNA 1981).
In its policy guidance document, the Home Office states that “the clearest indictor” of an intention to settle in the UK will be the applicant’s past behaviour.
Where an applicant’s past behaviour indicates that they are settled in the UK, their future intention should be accepted as given, unless there are any reasons which may indicate that their intention has changed.
The Home Office will consider a number of factors when assessing this aspect of the application.
Absences from the UK
Where the residence requirements are met or where discretion has been needed, only to permit excessive absences of 30 days and under, this should be accepted as evidence that the applicant has made the UK their home.
Where discretion has been requested to permit excessive absences of over 30 days, this will impact the future intentions requirement as well as the residence requirement. In these circumstances, in order to demonstrate their future intention, the applicant must evidence that they have an established residence, family and a substantial proportion of an estate in the UK.
If an applicant has been, or intends to be absent from the UK for a period of under six months, this should not indicate that the future intention requirement has not been met, provided that the absence was or will be “clearly temporary” and the applicant has established and maintained a home in the UK.
When assessing an intended absence, the Home Office must be satisfied that the applicant intends to return to the UK.
If an applicant intends to be absent for a period of more than six months, the application should be refused, unless:
- the applicant is undertaking voluntary work such as with the Voluntary Service Overseas
- the applicant is undertaking studies, training or employment abroad which is necessary to pursue a UK based profession, vocation or occupation
- the absence forms part of an established pattern, such as in relation to employment at sea and the applicant is primarily based in the UK
Location of principal home and family
In order to meet the requirements of a naturalisation application, the applicant’s principal home must be in the UK.
Where there is doubt over whether the applicant has established their residence in the UK, the Home Office will look into whether or not the applicant has a principal residence abroad. Evidence of having a principal home outside the UK will include the applicant or their partner owning property overseas, and the applicant’s family living overseas.
The Home Office guidance accepts that some people’s lifestyles will not allow them to maintain a principal home in the conventional sense (such as “international celebrities”). Applications from such individuals will be assessed on a case by case basis.
The following factors will be considered:
- the applicant’s position under UK tax law
- property owned in the UK
- personal connections to the UK
- length of time spent in the UK each year
- the extent to which the applicant identifies themself with the UK
As part of the application process, you are required to provide information about your spouse, including where they live. If an applicant’s partner lives abroad or intends to move abroad this will be an indication that the future intentions requirement is not met. Where an applicant spends substantial periods of time with their partner and/or children outside the UK, an application is likely to be refused.
This will not be the case if:
- the applicant is separated from their partner
- the partner has applied for an is awaiting entry clearance
- the Home Office is otherwise satisfied that the partner intends to join the applicant in the UK
- the applicant and their partner are clearly content to live apart
Naturalisation as a British citizen: How our immigration solicitors can help
When applying to naturalise as a British citizen, it is important to provide detailed evidence of your ties to the UK and your intention to live here in the future.
We are experienced in preparing naturalisation applications and have ensured numerous successful outcomes.
If you require legal advice on absences for naturalisation applications or you need any other advice on this area of law, please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.