Lost Life in the UK Test Letter

Lost Life in the UK Test Letter

Applying to naturalise as a British citizen? Or in the process of applying for indefinite leave to remain? Lost your Life in the UK test letter? Here’s a guide on what to do next.

When applying for indefinite leave to remain or to naturalise as a British citizenship, the applicant must demonstrate that they have knowledge of the English language and knowledge of life in the UK (also known as the KOLL requirement). The is demonstrated by sitting and passing the Life in the UK test.

The Life in the UK test is test taken over 45 minutes, containing 24 questions based on British traditions and customs. The test is meant to test the applicant’s understanding of British civic-political duties, such as voting requirements. The test carries a fee, which is payable each time the applicant sits the test.

On the successful completion of the test, the applicant will receive a Life in the UK Test Pass Notification Letter. This letter must be kept sake. Why? Because a duplicate will not be issued.

There are quite a few instances of clients reporting of their lost Life in the UK test letter. After all, the letter appears quite flimsy and plain and can easily be confused with other household documents.

So what can an applicant do, when they are about to apply for indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship, and realises that they have either misplaced or lost their Life in the UK test letter?

If the Life in the UK letter is lost or misplaced, it will not be possible to obtain another copy, as stated above. Instead, the Home Office advise [https://www.gov.uk/life-in-the-uk-test/what-happens-test] the applicant to write a letter addressed to them, explaining that the Life in the UK Pass Notification Letter has been lost.

The letter should provide details of:

  • The applicant’s full name, nationality and date of birth;
  • Date that they sat the Life in the UK test and location; and
  • The test pass number.

It is important to state the Life in the UK test pass number, if this is known.

Once the letter has been drafted, the applicant should include it with their application for citizenship or indefinite leave.

Once the letter and application has been received by the Home Office, the Home Office will use the information to confirm whether the applicant has indeed passed the Life in the UK test.

This process has proven successful for a recent client. That client was extremely organised. And yet, she was baffled as to how her Life in the UK test letter came to be misplaced. Things happen to the best of us.

Still, the overall advice is to keep the Life in the UK Pass Notification Letter extra safe, or at the very least, take a copy of the letter.

And don’t let a lost Life in the UK test letter prevent you from applying for indefinite leave or British citizenship within your planned timescales. There is normally a solution!


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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Refusal of British citizenship

Immigration

Tips to Avoid the 3 Main Reasons for a Refusal of British citizenship

When Jodi contacted us, the Home Office had refused her application to naturalise as a British citizen. She was understandably upset because she had indefinite leave to remain and, based on her understanding of the law, she appeared to be a good candidate for British citizenship.

No criminal behaviour, no court action, continuous employment since her arrival to the United Kingdom (UK) as a Tier 2 (General) highly skilled worker, involvement in community activities and yet, three months later and at great financial cost, Jodi’s application was refused.

We reviewed Jodi’s application and found that she had made one of 3 common errors. Below we set out our 3 tips to avoid a refusal of British citizenship applications.

The basics

A person may naturalise as a British citizen, under:

  • Section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981), as a person applying in their own right who is not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
  • Section 6(2) BNA 1981, as a person married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen.

The requirements to be met depend on whether you are applying to naturalise under section 6(1) BNA 1981 or section 6(2).

The requirements

Section 6(1) BNA 1981

The key requirements to be met:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Meet the 5-year residence requirements
  • Have indefinite leave to remain (settlement) or permanent residence status for at least 12 months
  • Have passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Meet the ‘good character’ requirements
  • Intend to make the UK your home

Section 6(2) BNA 1981

The key requirements include:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Be married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
  • Meet the 3-year residence requirements
  • Have passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Meet the ‘good character’ requirements
  • Intend to make the UK your home

Children and those under the age of 18 years cannot apply to naturalise as British citizens. Instead, they may apply to register as British citizens.

When preparing applications to naturalise, some applicants often fail to submit documents to demonstrate how they meet the requirements, which can lead to a refusal of the applications.

In fact, from experience, regardless of whether the application falls under section 6(1) or section 6(2) BNA 1981, there are 3 common errors which stand out. They are:

  • Not meeting the residence requirements
  • Not meeting the ‘good character’ requirements
  • Not meeting the English Language requirements

Let’s look at each one in turn, so that you too, can avoid a refusal of a British citizenship application:

  1. Not meeting the residence requirements

As highlighted above, the residence requirements differ depending on whether you are applying to naturalise on the basis of a marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen or not.

If you are applying on the basis of your marriage or civil partnership, you must meet the 3-years residence requirement. Apply in your own right and you must instead meet the 5-years residence requirements.

How does this work in practice?

Under section 6(1) BNA 1981, you must show that you have been resident in the UK for 5 years preceding the date of the application. This is also known as the Qualifying Period.

During that time, you must not have been absent from the UK for:

  • 450 days in total: and
  • 90 days in the 12 months’ period immediately preceding the date of the application

Conversely, under section 6(2) BNA 1981, you must evidence that you have been resident in the UK for 3 years preceding the date of the application.

During that 3 year’ qualifying period, you must not have been absent from the UK for:

  • 270 days in total: and
  • 90 days in the 12 months’ period immediately preceding the date of the application

Not only that, but in both instances, you must have been physically present in the UK at the start of the qualifying period, whether it is 3 years or 5 years ago. There are exceptions for those who may have been in the armed forces at the start of the qualifying period.

Some applicants fall foul of the absence requirements. Yet, it is important to note that if all the other requirements are met, the Home Office can exercise its discretion in favour of the applicant.

Our client, Jodi, found herself in exactly that position. Even though Jodi’s total absences were recalculated when we prepared the application, she still had absences of 502 days during the 5 years qualifying period.

To overcome this, we made representations to the Home Office, to request that it exercises its discretion in Jodi’s favour. We also submitted documentary evidence to demonstrate that much of Jodi’s travel was due to her employment commitments because of the seniority and nature of her role.

In another past case, where the client had exceeded his permitted absences by 35 days, we submitted medical documentary evidence to illustrate that his travel was necessary. We also provided the Home Office with evidence of his strong ties to the UK by way of mortgage statements for his residential home and family ties.

It is, of course, up to the Home Office to exercise its discretion and each case will be assessed and decided on their individual merits.

Nonetheless, the above examples highlight that it is possible to avoid a refusal of British citizenship applications where the absences requirements are exceeded, provided strong evidence is submitted to persuade the Home Office to exercise its discretion favourably.

  1. Not meeting the ‘good character’ requirements

The Home Office will assess if you are of sufficient ‘good character’ to be granted British citizenship or whether your previous conduct should adversely affect your application.

To be considered as having good character you must have “shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the United Kingdom, observed its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK.”

This is quite a broad test, but essentially the Home Office will carry out criminal and civil record checks in every application. As the Home Office is not bound to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, this means that every criminal offence will be considered as part of your application to naturalise, no matter how minor or when the act was committed.

Any criminal offence committed, both in the UK and abroad, such as theft, drink driving, use of a mobile phone while driving and driving while disqualified may prevent you from naturalising until a certain period of time has lapsed from the date of conviction.

You may also be prevented from applying successfully if you have any financial issues such as bankruptcy or not having failed to pay your council tax.

It should also be noted that failure to declare any of the above, could also be viewed negatively.

Examples

A previous client, who successfully applied to naturalise as a British citizen, had 5 fixed penalty notices for speeding and 2 others for parking related offences. In light of the number of penalty notices, we were wary that such behaviour could show a pattern of non-compliance with UK laws.

We therefore took the precaution of highlighting broader aspects of that client’s good character. We also submitted information from DVLA to prove that the client’s overall driving record was positive and that all penalty notices had been resolved.

In another instance, Jimmy had recently been declared bankrupt and sought a telephone consultation to discuss his chances of securing British citizenship.

Jimmy was advised against making an application to naturalise, at this time, as it was highly likely, in our opinion, and based on his wider financial dealings and lack of strong UK ties, that the application would fail.

Jimmy appeared to have sought assistance elsewhere and submitted an application to the Home Office. He contacted us by email to say that he had been invited by the Home Office to provide his biometric data. We informed Jimmy that the receipt of a biometric letter did not equate to approval of his application. Hopefully a decision will go in his favour!

Not meeting the good character requirements could lead to a refusal of British citizenship applications and it may be sensible to allow time to lapse before making an application. Nevertheless, there are times when a refusal can be avoided, provided strong evidence is submitted to persuade the Home Office of your good character.

  1. Not meeting the English Language requirements

Nationals of majority English speaking countries are not required to demonstrate English language proficiency. Majority English speaking nationals are those from:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

If you are from a country not listed above, you must pass an English language test (SELT), at B1 CEFR or higher.

It is not uncommon for applicants to provide an English language test certificate below the required level, leading to a possible refusal of the application.

Alternatively, if you hold an equivalent level qualification, such as a degree taught in English, such evidence may be submitted with the application instead.

The issue often occurs where the applicant received a degree qualification taught to them in English, from an approved university or educational establishment from outside of the UK.

Where this occurs, extra steps are required to illustrate how the applicant meets the requirements. For instance, Jodi, had previously submitted evidence of meeting the English language requirements, during her initial application for a Tier 2 (General) visa application and again in her application for indefinite leave to remain. At that time, Jodi had submitted a print out of the  Points Based Calculator detailing how her degree certificate met the requirements.

To Jodi’s surprise, the fact that she had met the requirements previously, did not preclude her providing such evidence again. And unfortunately, since 6 April 2016, the Home Office no longer accepts the Points Based Calculator as evidence of meeting the English language requirements.

Therefore, we approached UK NARIC for an Academic Qualification Level Statement from UK NARIC confirming that Jodi’s degree qualification was comparable to a UK degree. We submitted this statement, together with on official letter from Jodi’s overseas university stating that the degree was taught in English and also submitted her original degree certificate as part of the application.

As a result, we were clearly able to verify that Jodi met the English language requirements.

Conclusion

We hope that the 3 tips to avoid a refusal of a British citizenship application have been helpful.

As for Jodi, her application for British citizenship was approved and she had since attended the Citizenship Ceremony. As for Jimmy, if you are reading this, not your real name but you know who you are, please feel free to update us on your application and share your experience.

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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Lost Life in the UK Test Letter

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Brexit, Settled Status & EU Nationals

Thomas Chase Immigration - Brexit, Settled Status
The UK government has set out its negotiation position with the European Union (EU), on the future status of approximately 3 million EU nationals currently exercising Treaty rights in the UK. The published information provides an outline of the government’s position on a ‘new settled status’, but is very short on detail. Here, we review the latest government proposals and their possible impact for EU nationals and their families.

Settled Status
A new ‘special settled status’ was announced by Prime Minister, Theresa May on 26 June 2017, aimed at granting EU nationals “the right to live in Britain, to undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and to apply for British citizenship.”

The proposals will allow EU nationals to acquire or transfer their permanent status into a special settled status, thereby bringing them within the restrictive UK immigration laws that currently apply to nationals outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Let’s look at the proposals in more detail. As part of the UK government’s wish to ‘safeguard’ the rights of EU nationals in the UK, the government said it will:

  • Comply in full with its legal obligations, including in respect of administrative procedures for providing documentation for those exercising Treaty rights until such time as the UK leaves the UK;

 

  • Create new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens, resident here before the UK’s exit from the EU. Those rights will be enforceable in the UK legal system and will provide legal guarantees for those EU. In addition, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the UK;

 

  • These rights will apply to all EU citizens equally and the UK government will not treat citizens of one member state differently to those of another qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status. The administrative procedures which they will need to comply with in order to obtain these new rights will be modernised and kept as smooth and simple as possible;

 

  • Bring the application process under a separate legal scheme, in UK law, rather than the current one for certifying the exercise of rights under EU. The UK government intends to tailor the eligibility criteria so that, for example, it will no longer require evidence that economically inactive EU citizens have previously held ‘comprehensive sickness insurance’ in order to be considered continuously resident;

 

  • Provide all qualifying EU citizens adequate time to apply for their new residence status after the UK leaves the UK. There will be no ‘cliff-edge’ at the point of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU;

 

  • Guarantee that qualifying individuals will be granted settled status in UK law (indefinite leave to remain pursuant to the Immigration Act 1971). This means they will be free to reside in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and services and to apply for British citizenship;

 

  • Allow EU nationals to qualify for the new settled status as long as they were resident in the UK before a specified date and must have completed a period of 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status. They must also still be resident in the UK at that point to qualify;

 

  • Allow EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date, but who have not accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit from the EU, to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK. Once those EU nationals have resided in the UK for 5 years, they will be eligible to apply for settled status;

 

  • Allow EU citizens who arrived after the specified date, to remain in the UK for at least a temporary period. They may become eligible to settle permanently, depending on their circumstances. However, this group should ‘have no expectation of guaranteed settled status’;

 

  • Allow family dependants, who join a qualifying EU citizen in the UK before the UK’s exit from the EU, to apply for settled status after 5 years. The 5 years’ period includes time accrued after Brexit. Those joining after the UK’s exit will be subject to the same rules as those joining British citizens or alternatively to the post-exit immigration arrangements for EU citizens who arrive after the specified date;

 

  • Define the ‘specified date’ as no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The specified date will be agreed with the EU as part of delivering a reciprocal deal; and

 

  • Apply rules to exclude those who are serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK.

It cannot be stressed enough that the above proposals are just that, proposals. The proposals will form part of the UK’s negotiations with the EU and is likely to change or bend as time progresses. Regardless, as they stand, they will have a huge impact on EU nationals’ ability to work, study and unite with family members in the UK.

Summary

The new settled status will apply to EU nationals and their family members who are currently exercising Treaty rights in the UK, but have not yet acquired 5 years’ continuous residence, and will also be applicable to EU nationals that have already applied to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence status.

Applying for the new settled status will be done under a ‘fast- track process’.

Great. Some information has been provided. And yet, so much has been left unsaid.

  • What will the fast track process look like?
  • How does the government intend to fast-track the applications for the large number of EU nationals in the UK?
  • It is not clear if the application process for the new settled status will differ for EU nationals that have already gone through the onerous process of applying to certify their permanent residence status and supplied a great deal of documents, as compared to those that had not certified their permanent residence status at all.
  • How will settled status for EU nationals already in the UK, differ from the settled status for EU nationals arriving after the ‘specified date’?
  • Will EU nationals arriving after the cut-off date see a restricted definition of ‘family members’ as seen under the current UK immigration rules?
  • Will EU nationals that had certified their permanent residence status be expected to complete another form and submit masses of documents again?
  • What is the specified cut-off date?

Another key omission? Fees. How much will EU nationals be expected to pay to apply for the new settled status? For instance, national from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) can expect to pay £2,297 (fees as applied from 6 April 2017 and current as of today’s date). Compare that to an application to certify permanent residence, currently £65.

Will EU nationals be expected to pay hundreds or even thousands of pounds for settled status? We don’t yet know although the UK government proposes that fees will be reasonable.

And will the fast-track system be offered as standard or will a premium fee be attached? We also do not know.

What is clear is that some EU nationals are holding off making an application to certify permanent residence status and instead waiting for details of the new settled status. The merits of doing so will of course depend on each individual and their circumstances.

Settled status, students and the self-sufficient

At present, EU nationals in the UK as students or who are self-sufficient, are required to hold comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI). Without CSI, such EU nationals are deemed not to have exercised their Treaty rights in the UK.

The government has proposed that CSI will not be a requirement for EU nationals seeking the new settled status.

Permanent residence and British citizenship

What factors should EU nationals factor into their decision making?

Well, not all EU nationals are eager to apply for British citizenship or meet the requirements for British citizenship. In fact, some nationals are precluded from holding dual nationality by their home country.

For those keen to secure British citizenship, applying to certify permanent residence status, especially for those already exercising their Treaty rights in the UK for 5 years and over, can be beneficial. Why? Because it may be a ‘quicker’ route to naturalising as a British citizen.

When applying for British citizenship, EU nationals have been exercising Treaty rights for 5 years, at which point they will acquire permanent residence. Thereafter, they must apply to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence and hold such recognised status for a further 12 months.

Examples

For example, one of our client’s Eliana, owned and ran her own business in the UK for the past 8 years and successfully applied for British nationality. Eliana first applied to certify her permanent residence status on the basis that she could evidence exercising her Treaty rights as a self-employed person for the past 7 years. Not the easiest of exercises but Eliana only managed to obtain 7 years of the recommended documentary evidence.

We prepared the application and asked the Home Office to not only certify Eliana’s permanent residence status for the past 5 years, but for the past 7 years. This was duly done and allowed Eliana to immediately apply for British citizenship without waiting for a further 12 months.

Equally, another client had her permanent residence status recognised based on her UK activities over the past 5 years. After 12 months’ she may apply for British citizenship, well before the UK formally leaves the EU, assuming the cut-off date is when the UK officially leaves the EU.

This option may be far ‘quicker’ route to British citizenship as compared to applying for settled status, once it is rolled out, and holding that status for an additional 12 months. At the moment, there is nothing to say that the new settled status will be retrospective in law.

Family members

There are good reasons to wait and delay making an application British citizenship. One of which is related to family members. Under EU regulations, EU national exercising Treaty rights in the UK, are entitled to have their direct and indirect family members join them in the UK.  This includes non-EEA family members.

Once the EU national becomes a British citizen, family reunion becomes restricted, onerous and expensive.

An EU national sponsoring a non-EEA spouse to join the in the UK can be as (relatively) straightforward as submitting a EEA family permit application at zero cost.

Doing so as a British citizen means meeting the financial requirements and earning a salary of at least £18,600 per annum, and Home Office fees in the region of £1400 plus an Immigration Health Surcharge of approximately £600.

And applying for an elderly parent to a British citizen in the UK is extremely difficult, with extended family members such as cousins and uncles being almost impossible.

Conclusion

The government has laid out its proposals, for a new settled status, for EU nationals exercising Treaty rights in the UK and for those arriving after the UK formally leaves the EU. Nevertheless, the proposals are extremely light on details, making it difficult for EU nationals to assess the best way forward. That is, whether to apply to certify their permanent residence status, thereafter apply for British citizenship, or simply wait and see how the plans for new settled status materialise.

Much will depend on the circumstances of the individual EU national, and we have listed some of those considerations above. And of course, we must remember that the proposals, at least for now, are just that…published plans to be negotiated with the EU. As such, they are subject to change. So we will watch this space and keep you updated.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families looking for friendly, straightforward advice.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance on the rights of EU citizens or assistance with an application for a permanent residence document, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

 

You may also like:

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Brexit & EU citizens in the UK

Thomas Chase Immigration - EU citizens
What is the UK government’s position on the future rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom (UK), as Brexit negotiations get underway?

Earlier today, Prime Minister Theresa May updated Parliament on the European Union (EU) summit and her proposals for EU citizens in the UK. Those with 5 years’ lawful residence at the point of cut-off, will be granted ‘settled status’, akin to indefinite leave to remain and current permanent residence provisions

The cut-off will be no later than the UK’s exit from the EU and will be agree with the member states.

After, the cut-off date, EU citizens will be able to bring their family members (dependants) to the UK in the same (very restrictive) way as British status.

For those EU nationals in the UK with less than 5 years’ residence, who arrive before the cut-off, it is proposed that they may remain in the UK until they are in a positon to apply for 5 years’ settled status.

The system of EU citizens’ registration is to be streamlined and will not require comprehensive medical insurance in future!

Contentious areas

Let’s not forget, the proposals were dismissed by the European Council President, Donald Tusk, as falling below expectations’.

Key contentious areas in the UK government’s proposals include jurisdictional issues and dependants.

The UK government’s proposal that EU nationals’ rights should be overseen by a UK body or the Home Office is unlikely to be accepted by the EU member states. They believe that jurisdiction of EU rights should fall to the European Court of Justice.

Another contentious area for the member states will be around settled EU citizens and their family members. The proposal by the UK that EU citizens may continue to enjoy freedom of movement for their family members but this should fall under UK immigration rules after the cut-off date, is unlikely to be supported by the member states. Instead, they will prefer to see such rights continue indefinitely.

Conclusion

The announcement to respect EU citizen’s right to permanent residence in the UK is welcome. Yet, the proposals leave many unanswered questions and is unlikely to be the government’s final position as Brexit negotiations continue. The UK will need to resolve the possible contentious issues, of jurisdiction and dependant rights, with the European Council, to not only to provide clarity to EU nationals, but so it may agree reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals residing in the EU and begin trade talks.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families looking for friendly, straightforward advice.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance on the rights of EU citizens or assistance with an application for a permanent residence document, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

 

You may also like:

EEA permit applications and processing times

Permanent Residence to British citizenship: Is it worth the hassle?

 

Top 10 Q&A on British Citizenship

Latest position on Brexit
Over time, I have received many questions from individuals seeking guidance on how to apply to become a British citizen. With that in mind, I have collated the top 10 questions and answers on all aspects of British citizenship.

  1. What is British Citizenship?

A British citizen has a right of abode in the United Kingdom (UK). In practice, if you have British citizenship, you have the right to permanently live and work in the UK without any immigration restrictions. And you will not need permission from an Immigration Officer to enter the UK

  1. Who can apply for British citizen?

Unlike some countries, you do not automatically become a British citizen because you were born in the UK. Under the British Nationality Act 1981, much will depend on your date of birth.

For instance, you will be a British citizen if you were born on or after 1 January 1983, and your mother or father was either:

  • a British citizen when you were born
  • ‘settled’ in the UK when you were born

It is typical for you to be a British citizen if one of your parents was born in the UK or had become a British citizen at the time of your birth.

Different provisions apply if you were born outside the UK or were born in the UK before July 2006. Where you fall within the latter, your father’s British nationality will normally only pass to you if he was married to your mother at the time of your birth.

Likewise, if you are an overseas national, Commonwealth citizen or national of the European Economic Area (EEA), you will not automatically acquire British citizenship merely because you have lived in the UK for a lengthy period of time.

However, there are a number of ways to become a British citizen. One of the main ways is to naturalise as a British citizen.

To apply to naturalise as a British citizen, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Meet the residence requirements
  • Have passed the Life in the UK test
  • Have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) grade of at least B1, or an equivalent level qualification, such as a degree taught or researched in English or be a national of a majority English speaking country
  • Be of good character
  • Intend to make the UK your permanent home

The residence requirement is very important and you must show that you:

  • Have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the date of submission of the application
  • Have settlement (indefinite leave to remain) or permanent residence for at least an additional 12 months preceding the date of the application
  • To have spent less than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
  • To have spent less than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • Not have been in breach of the immigration laws during your time in the UK

Applications on the basis of marriage or civil partnership to a British citizen is a frequently used route also. The key differences are:

  • You must evidence that you have lived in the UK for at least the 3 years before your application is submitted
  • You must have pent no more than 270 days outside the UK in those 3 years
  • You must have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • You must not have broken any immigration laws while in the UK

It is also possible to register to become a British citizen if:

  • You have another form of British nationality
  • You were born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother
  • You were born to a British father, even if he was not married to your mother
  • You were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983
  • You are under 18 and do not fit into the other categories
  • You have a connection with Gibraltar or Hong Kong
  • You are stateless
  1. Are British citizens allowed dual citizenship?

British citizens are allowed to hold dual nationality. Nevertheless, some countries may treat the acquisition of another citizenship as a renouncement of their original nationality.

To avoid this happening to you, it is crucial to verify, with your country of origin, the potential implications of applying for British citizenship before an application is prepared and submitted.

  1. What is the British citizenship test and where can I sit the test?

Details of the British citizenship test, or Life in the UK test, can be found in my previous blog.

  1. What does British citizenship cost?

The application fee payable to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will depend on how you qualify to become a British citizen. For instance, as of 18 March 2016, fee for British citizenship based on:

  • Naturalisation as an adult: £1,236
  • Registration as an adult: £1121
  • Registration as a child: £939
  1. Who can sign British citizenship application form?

As part of your application process, you must nominate two referees, one of which may be of any nationality and has professional standing in the UK.

The other referee must be a British citizen and hold a valid British passport. That person must be either a professional person or over the age of 25.

In addition, your referees cannot be:

  • Related to you
  • Related to each other
  • Your solicitor or agent
  • Someone who has been convicted for an imprisonable offence during the last 10 years

UKVI will make contact with your referees to verify your identity so it is important that your referees are able to respond in a timely manner to UKVI’ queries. Doing so will avoid delays to the application and at worse, a refusal.

  1. Can I apply for British citizenship if I have a driving conviction or criminal record?

UKVI had introduced a revised ‘good character’ requirements for all decisions made on or after 11 December 2014. As a result, UKVI will look at your previous conduct to assess whether you are likely, in future, to show ‘respect for the rights and freedoms of the United Kingdom’, observe national laws and fulfil your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK.Thomas Chase Immigration - British Citizenship

In doing so, UKVI will carry out criminal and civil record checks. All criminal offences, regardless of how minor the offence or when and where the offence was committed, will be considered by UKVI. This is because UKVI is not bound by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Therefore, previous offences such as theft, drink driving, using a mobile phone while driving or driving while disqualified may likely prevent you from becoming a British citizen until there is a sufficient gap between the date of the offence and the date of the application.

Your immigration history will also be taken into account by UKVI when considering your application. For instance, if you entered the UK illegally, assisted in illegal migration or evaded immigration control, you will be prevented from making a British citizenship application until at least 10 years has passed from the date of entry to the UK. This will have a significant impact if you are a refugee who had used one of the above methods to gain entry to the UK. Similarly, if you overstay your visa for a relatively small period, your application for British citizenship may be refused.

And the tentacles of the good character requirements stretch even further so that financial issues such as bankruptcy or failure to pay your council tax can also have an adverse impact upon your application.

In light of the good character requirements, it is crucial to seek expert immigration advice if any of the above applies to you.

  1. Where should I send my British Citizenship application form?

Completed application forms should be sent to:

UKVI 
Department 1 
The Capital 
New Hall Place 
Liverpool 
L3 9PP 

The application must be accompanied by the correct application fee and supporting documents.

  1. How long does a British citizenship application take to be processed?

Applications are acknowledged within 2 weeks of receipt. UKVI aims to consider the application within 6 months. UKVI will retain all documents during that time including your passports. That said, it is possible to request the return of your passport although UKVI can request that it is resubmitted for further scrutiny.

10.Where are British citizenship ceremonies held?

Once your application has been approved by UKVI, you will be invited to attend at a Citizenship Ceremony. At the ceremony you will be asked to affirm or swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and to pledge your loyalty to the UK.

Ceremonies take place at your local authority, and your UKVI Approval Letter will provide details of what you must do next and who to contact in order to make the necessary arrangements.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for British citizenship, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like:

Top 10 Questions on the Life on the UK Test

 

Top 10 Questions on the Life in the UK Test

Top 10 Questions on the Life in the UK Test
Passing the Life in the UK test, or as some people call it, the British citizenship test, is a key requirement for settlement and British citizenship applications. Yet it is one of those areas that seem to raise the most questions (and resentment) from applicants. Here, we answer the top 10 client questions about the Life in the UK test.

  1. What is the Life in the UK Test?

The Life in the UK test requires applicants seeking to reside in the UK permanently or to naturalise as British citizens to demonstrate a certain level of understanding of British life and society.

To truly understand the purpose of the Life in the UK test, it is necessary to briefly capture the political landscape at the time.

In 1997, the Labour government had been voted into government ending 18 years of Conservative government.

However, in 1998, the Labour government saw net migration jump from 48,000 to 140,000.  Migration Watch stated that the rise ‘was largely due to factors outside the government’s control’, but the Labour government faced criticism for its handling of immigration nevertheless.

As the Home Office grew under Labour (and from I was able to join the Home Office) so too did the rhetoric and legislative measures to control immigration or to make individuals ‘earn’ their status, including those already in the UK and were now seeking to make the UK their permanent home or naturalise.

  1. When was the Life in the UK Test introduced?

Some clients will often ask this question to mentally calculate if they could have avoided the test had they submitted an application sooner.

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Test 2002 (the Act), a huge piece of legislation that received royal assent on 7 November 2002, provided for knowledge of British society to be tested by way of a Life in the UK Test for settlement and naturalisation applicants.

The format and content of the test took some time for the specially formed Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Committee to agree upon and only became effective for settlement applicants from 1 November 2005 and naturalisation applicants from 2 April 2007.

  1. Do I have to sit the Life in the UK test?

Clients that have made the UK their home for a number of years can find the need to demonstrate an appreciation of British life and society, by way of a test, to be quite onerous and unreasonable.

At present all applicants applying for settlement or naturalisation as a British Citizenship must sit the Life in the UK test.

Applicants do not need to sit the Life in the UK test if they are:

  • Under 18 years; or
  • Over 65 years.
  1. How much does the Life in the UK cost?

As of today’s date, the Life in the UK test costs £50.

Life in the UK test refund can be obtained, if requested at least 3 days prior to the date of the test. A refund will not be given where the test is cancelled within 3 days of the test date.

  1. How long is the Life in the UK test?

The test lasts 45 minutes. There are 24 multiple choice questions and to pass, individuals must obtain 75% or more.

  1. What questions are in the Life in the UK test?

There is a great deal of information online. I suggest that individuals use the official handbook as it is their knowledge of this handbook that will be tested.  The official book covers a range of topics including:

  • The process of becoming a citizen or permanent resident
  • The values and principles of the UK
  • Traditions and culture from around the UK
  • The events and people that have shaped the UK’s history
  • The government and the law
  • Getting involved in your community

The book can be purchased in hard copy or in a number of formats from the TSO website.

As an aside, previous editions of the official Life in the UK book has been said to contain a few errors. Yet, there is no right of appeal or ability to challenge the accuracy of the information contained in the handbook.

There is also an official online practice test which gives a sense of what the test will be like and  official study guide book.

  1. When should I book the Life in the UK test?

My view, only book the test once they fee sufficiently prepared to sit and pass the test. Thereafter, the Life in the UK test can be booked least 3 days in advance.

The Life in the UK pass notification letter will be issued at the end of the test and will need to be submitted in the application bundle to the Home Office.

  1. How do I book the Life in the UK test?

Book the Life in the UK test online.

When booking the test, the following information must be provided:

  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) reference or passport number
  • Residential address details
  • Debit or credit card
  • Email address
  • Details of any special requests

Further guidance on the identity documents required to book the Life in the UK test, can be found in the Home Office’s identification guidance.

At the test centre, identity documents and address details will be cross referenced with the information provided when booking the test.

If there is a mismatch between the documents used when booking the test and those presented on the date of the test, the test cannot be taken and no refund will be given.

Should a mistake be made when booking the Life in the UK test online, this can easily be rectified up to one day before the test date. The details will need to be edited and saved within the Life in the UK test account.

There is a Home Office helpline for individuals requiring further help to book the test:

Life in the UK Test Helpline
Telephone: 0800 015 4245
Monday to Friday open 8am to 4pm

The test is taken at a Life in the UK test centre

  1. How long is the Life in the UK test valid for?

Currently, the Life in the UK pass notification letter does not have an end date and the test only needs to be taken once. This allows an applicant to use the same Life in the UK test certificate as part of their settlement application and again as part of their naturalisation application.

One of my clients is applying for British citizenship. She settled in the UK in 2003 and had sat her Life in the UK test in 2006 but, for a number of reasons, decided against pursuing the naturalisation application at that time. Fortunately, her Life in the UK test certificate from 2006 is still and can form part of her naturalisation application. She will need to sit an English Language test however.

  1. What if I fail the Life in the UK test?

The test can be retaken 7 days after the unsuccessful test result. The test will need to be booked online using the process highlighted above.

And another thing….

The Life in the UK pass notification letter is presented in a form of a simple letter. It is very important that the pass notification letter is kept safe as duplicate copies will not be issued by the test centre or Home Office.

Should the Life in the UK pass notification letter be misplaced or lost, the Home Office can be contacted for guidance on 03001 232 253. There is a charge for calling this number.

Conclusion

Passing the Life in the UK Test is a key requirement for settlement and British citizenship applications. It can cause anxiety, panic and sometimes resentment by individuals who have immersed themselves in British life and society and find the test a pointless administrative exercise. In this blog, I have attempted to answer the top 10 questions raised by clients over the years. Hopefully, the answers have provided some clarity about test and I would welcome any tips, experiences that you may have.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for settlement or British citizenship, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like: Top 10 Q&A on British citizenship and Permanent Residence to British citizenship: Is it worth it?

Permanent Residence to British Citizenship: Is it Worth the Hassle?

You have applied to the Home Office for your Permanent Residence card. Post Brexit, is it worth making an application to become a British Citizen?

That depends.

The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has stated that Brexit will mean Brexit. There will likely be changes for EU nationals seeking to relocate to the UK and work in future beyond Brexit, subject to any reciprocal agreements and negotiations on freedom of movement.

However, for those EU nationals that already have Permanent Residence (PR) in the UK and have applied to certify this status by the Home Office, very little is likely to change. Except that they will have rights under EU law that will no longer strictly apply to the UK post Brexit.

Applying to become a British citizen can be beneficial for those EU nationals with PR that have made the UK their long term home and intend to continue doing so.

If life in the UK is important to you, you couldn’t imagine life elsewhere and you want the added security of knowing that your status will be protected, the extra step can help. And the good thing is, many countries within the EU allow nationals to hold dual nationality.

But there is a proviso and that is around timing. If you are an EU national with non-EEA family overseas, it may be considerably easier to have them join you under the current EU regulations than under UK immigration rules, This is because UK immigration laws place strict financial and other requirements on non-EEA family members joining British family members.

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for a settlement or British  citizenship, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like:

Top 10 Q&A on British citizenship

Top 10 Questions on the Life on the UK Test

Applying for an EEA Family Permit

Successfully applied to become a British Citizen? Here’s what you must do next!

EU citizens Brexit
Congratulations! Your application to become a British Citizen has been successful and you have the Home Office letter to prove it.

You have contacted the local council to arrange your attendance at the citizenship ceremony and invited your nearest and dearest to witness you becoming a British national.

At the ceremony, you will receive your certificate of British citizenship and welcome pack.

And then onto the next step – applying for your British passport. It’s exciting isn’t it?!

Yes. Only there are a few things that you need to be aware of.

After you attend the citizenship ceremony and receive your certificate of British citizenship, your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is no longer appropriate for your circumstances. That’s because you have formally become British and your BRP does not reflect this.

To address this, the Home Office requires that you return the BRP to them by post within 5 days of attending the ceremony or receiving the certificate of British citizenship.

Did I say ‘require’? It would be better to say ‘insist’ as failure to return your BRP to the Home Office after attending a citizenship ceremony can result in a fine of up to £1,000.

The BRP must be returned to (correct as of today’s date):

POL Returns 
PO Box 195 
Bristol 
BS20 1BT.

The BRP shouldn’t merely be placed in an envelope and posted but should be cut into several pieces and placed in a windowless envelope with a note. That note should contain brief wording such as:

‘I am returning my permit because I have become a British citizen’.

Apart from ensuring that you return your BRP within 5 days of attending the citizenship ceremony or receiving your certificate of British citizenship, it all seems straightforward, right?

Wrong! What happens if you have travel booked or plan to travel but cannot afford to wait 6 weeks to receive your new British passport?

Can you attend the ceremony, receive your certificate of British citizenship, travel with your original overseas passport and re-enter the UK with your BRP? After all, the BRP will show that you are entitled to reside in the UK and hasn’t expired.

The firm answer is no.

Once you have attended the citizenship ceremony or received your certificate of British citizenship you cannot hold onto the BRP and travel with it once you. You will instead need to be in possession of a British passport or Right of Abode Certificate to enter the UK.

If you do have travel booked, in such circumstances, it may be best to delay booking and attending the citizenship ceremony.

Normally, you will have 3 months from receipt of the Home Office letter of your application outcome to book and attend the ceremony. It your travel is booked to take place within that time, it may be best to contact your local council and explain the situation to them.

Council officials are extremely helpful and may possibly arrange for you to attend the ceremony at the latest available date. This may give you sufficient time to complete your travels and return to the UK using your BRP before attending the ceremony. This option will not be available if your certificate of British citizenship has been sent to you instead.

The main thing is that having gone through the process of qualifying for British citizenship, applying and being successful, it wold be a shame to become subject to a fine because you did not return your BRP or at worst, have no way of proving your immigration status when returning to the UK after your travels.

Hopefully, following this short guide will help you focus on what’s important, celebrating the outcome of your application to become a British citizen!

Brexit: What next for EU nationals?

Thomas Chase Immigration - EU nationals
Following Brexit, it can feel as if the road ahead has been closed to EU nationals. But it doesn’t have to be. I must have drafted and redrafted this article so many times since the British public voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June 2016. Perhaps it was a case of the Brexit Blues which led me to struggle with this particular piece. Fellow bloggers elsewhere seemed able to produce articles on the impact of Brexit on any number of industries and sectors. Indeed, I had come across numerous articles on the impact of Brexit on EU nationals and EU workers.

And yet for all the articles written, I’m not sure that EU nationals appreciate that things are not as bleak as they first appear; that they have options for securing their status in the UK and that the sooner they begin thinking about next steps, the better. With this in mind, I finally felt upbeat about putting pen to paper.

EU nationals and ‘Treaty Rights’

First of all, it’s worth highlighting which nationals we are talking about.

EU nationals include:

Austria France Malta
Belgium Germany Netherlands
Bulgaria Greece Poland
Croatia Hungary Portugal
Republic of Cyprus Ireland Romania
Czech Republic Italy Slovakia
Denmark Latvia Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania Spain
Finland Luxembourg Sweden

In addition, nationals outside of the EU, but within the European Economic Area (EEA) that may also enjoy free movement are:

Iceland Liechtenstein Norway

The only exception is Switzerland, which is neither a member of the EU or EEA but whose nationals may also enjoy the same rights.

In a nutshell, Treaty Rights’ and ‘free movement’ are the rights that EU nationals and their family members enjoy to travel and relocate to the UK (and other parts of the EU) to take up employment and seek work. Not just that, EU nationals may also study in the UK, establish and grow a business, live off their savings or continue their retirement.

Brexit is unlikely to change this. Such entitlements will continue for the next few years as the UK still remains an active member of the EU.

In fact, the referendum outcome merely informed the government that the majority of British nationals wish to leave the EU (however small that majority may be). The outcome is not legally binding though the acting Prime Minister, Theresa May, is committed to honouring the outcome, citing that ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

The nature and timing of any changes to the status of EU nationals presently in the UK will be better understood once the UK formally activates Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (the legal instrument giving notice of the UK’s intention to leave the EU). At that point, the UK will begin to put forward its proposed terms to the EU Member States during that 2-year negotiation process.

With this in mind, it may be easy for EU nationals to wait and see what happens. After all, with everything remaining the same for at least the next 2-years, why panic?

Fair point. The answer is actually two-fold. On one hand, the rights of EU nationals or EU workers in the UK is likely to be protected beyond 2 years by way of transitional or interim immigration arrangements. But on the other, EU nationals will likely have to demonstrate, by way of documentary evidence, that they have been exercising their Treaty Rights in the UK at a certain point so as to fall within the transitional arrangements. The difficulty for EU nationals (and immigration advisers carefully scrutinising this area) is that we do not know what those transitional arrangements will be and what parameters will be set by the Home Office (the UK government department responsible for immigration matters).

Rather than the wait-and-see approach, EU nationals may wish to submit an application to the Home Office at the earliest opportunity.

Permanent Residence status

For instance, EU nationals exercising Treaty Rights in the UK for 5 years automatically acquire permanent residence in the UK. Previously, they never needed to give their status a second thought. Proving their entitlement to take employment in the UK was as simple as presenting a valid EU passport or ID card.

Post-Brexit, it may be sensible for EU nationals to submit an application to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence status for added security. Such applications are onerous and time consuming, which is why many EU nationals avoided submitting applications up to this point.

EU nationals will be required to submit documentary evidence to demonstrate that they have been exercising Treaty Rights for the last 5 years (or less depending on certain circumstances).

In addition, they must show that they have made the UK their home and resided here for a continuous period. Holidays and trips abroad will be taken into account and should not be so excessive as to cause the Home Office to surmise that the EU national did not actually make the UK their permanent home.

Given the number of documents involved, the application process can take 6 months for the Home Office to conclude. Indeed, a recent report highlighted that the Home Office were inundated with applications of this type. I’m sure you can see why that would be the case!

The added benefit of this approach is that it provides EU nationals with the additional identity documents required for an application for British Citizenship, once they have resided in the UK for 6 years and can evidence their permanent residence. Having dual British and European nationality can be especially advantageous for many EU nationals.

For those that have already certified their permanent residence and have lived it the UK for at least 6 years, it may be time to consider making an application for British nationality.

Even if EU nationals chose not to submit an application to certify their residence status, collating the above documents, for themselves and any family members, will be prudent so as to comply with any transitional arrangements that will likely be introduced.

Registration Certificate

EU nationals that have not quite exercised Treaty Rights in the UK for a full 5 years, submitting an application for a registration certificate to certify their status to date, may be a better option.

EU nationals had little need to submit such an application unless they wanted further proof of their entitlements to access certain services in the UK. However, non-EU family or extended family members may be familiar with this process.

Fortunately, this application can be submitted by post and in person and can therefore be quicker to process.

Should the EU national come to be in the UK for 5 years Post-Brexit, it may more straightforward for them to convert that status to permanent residency.

Conclusion

Brexit has led to EU nationals to question their immigration status in the UK for the first time. Despite suffering from a dose of Brexit Blues, the situation does not need to be bleak. Nothing has changed and there is an expectation that post-Brexit, transitional arrangements will be put in place to respect the entitlements of EU nationals that have made the UK their home.

That does not mean however, that EU nationals should do nothing. It may be prudent for EU nationals to assess how to solidify and best protect their status in the UK, by way of making an application to recognise their permanent residence, applying for a residence certificate, collating documents just-in-case, or applying to become a British Citizen. Such applications will require EU nationals to evidence that they have been exercising Treaty Rights in the UK and that they have made the UK their permanent home. Given that EU nationals have to provide details of any absences from the UK for holidays or any other time spent abroad, what EU nationals should avoid doing in the short term is leaving the UK and returning to mainland Europe in order to see what happens. Doing so will likely break the chain of continuous leave in the UK and that’s when options for EU nationals could be compromised.

Should you require any help with your EU status, why not arrange a consultation with me to discuss your options? The email address is [email protected]