British Citizenship Ceremonies Update

British Citizenship Ceremonies

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.

Timescales

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.  

Conclusion

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: [email protected]. 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.

Contact us at [email protected], and visit  https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/contact-us to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about from our blogs

Liked this blog?

You might also like:

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.

  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.

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