You have successfully applied to naturalise as a British citizenship, and now you must attend a British citizenship ceremony. What can individuals expect at the and the British citizenship ceremonies and how will this be affected by the need for physical or social distancing due to the coronavirus?
We set out the position below.
All individuals that have successfully applied to naturalise as British citizens, and who are over 18 years of age, must attend a citizenship ceremony.
British Citizenship ceremonies are organized by the local council and normally take place in groups, though it is possible to have a private ceremony for an additional fee. Private ceremonies can be beneficial, where an individual wish to invite more than the permitted guest allocation which currently stands at two guests.
Normally, the individual must contact the local authority and book a date for the ceremony, within 21 days of the date of their Citizenship Invitation Letter sent by the Home Office.
For individuals that are abroad, yet intending to live in the UK more permanently, they may postpone their ceremony until their return. If so, they will have up to 3 months to book the ceremony.
Latest position due to the coronavirus
Due to coronavirus, the Home Office has said that individuals will now have 6 months to book their British citizenship ceremonies.
The Home Office advise that any delays in attending the ceremonies, as a result of the coronavirus, will not affect the outcome of the application itself.
Therefore, they will not rescind the decision to approve the application to naturalise because an individual is unable to attend an appointment due to the pandemic.
Nevertheless, while it is good to know that individuals will have more time to attend British citizenship ceremonies because of the coronavirus.
The downside is that such individuals will not be officially viewed as British until such time as they attend the ceremonies and say an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Queen, and pledge loyalty to the UK.
It is at the end of the ceremony, an individual will be presented with their Certificate of British Citizenship and a Welcome Pack. The Certificate will evidence the person’s legal acquisition of British citizenship, and should therefore be kept safe. It is not advisable to alter or even laminate the document.
The Certificate of British Citizenship will also be required as part of an application for a first British passport.
It is advisable to avoid altering or even laminating the certificate, as HM Passport Office may refuse to accept the document as evidence of citizenship. If so, a new certificate will need to be obtained.
British citizenship ceremonies allow individuals that have successfully applied to naturalize, to mark the occasion. At the ceremony, individuals will be given official documentation of their status.
The pandemic has impacted those who may not yet have attended the ceremony and the Home Office has provided updated guidance.
We have highlighted some key things to consider, which we hope has been of help.
Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre
If you have a coronavirus and UK immigration query UKVI advise that you contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre at: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Emails must be in English.
The Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre will typically respond to emails within 5 working days.
The Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre can also be contacted by phone on: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Calls are free of charge. Please do not call the team if you have already sent the team an email. This will only waste time and slow down response times.
For anyone wishing to seek clarity about their immigration status, we recommend that you seek expert immigration advice.
All the best and please stay safe!
Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.
Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.
Call to action
If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or assistance with your application to naturalise or register as a British citizen, feel free to contact us.
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