British citizenship, overseas workers, international nurses, international social workers

How can I get British citizenship?

By Keith Pilkington

The UK was named one of the best places to live and work in the world so it's no surprise that many international candidates decide to stay. There are a few different circumstances by which you could apply for British citizenship. As you moved to the UK for work, you may be able to apply for citizenship by ‘naturalisation’, depending on your situation.

To apply through naturalisation, there are five main requirements:

  • You must be over 18 years old

  • You must be ‘of good character’ (e.g. not having committed any serious crimes or immigration fraud)

  • You must be currently living in the UK

  • You must meet the English language requirements

  • You must pass the life in the UK test

In addition to these, most applicants must also have:

  • Lived in the UK for at least five years, without any absence longer than 450 days

  • Travelled outside the UK for no more than 90 days, in the last year

  • UK permanent residence (for EEA nationals) or been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (you must’ve had this for at least one year)

Spouses and/or civil partners of British citizens may have different requirements.

You have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

You can usually apply for ILR after you’ve lived in the UK for five years. To apply for citizenship with ILR you usually must have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it.

You have ‘permanent residence’ status

If you, or a family member are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you usually get permanent residence status automatically after living in the UK for five years. To apply, you must have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting permanent residence status. There are other ways you could be eligible to apply for British citizenship:

  • You have a British parent

  • You have another type of British nationality

  • You’re stateless

  • You previously gave up (renounced your citizenship)

If you’re a Commonwealth citizen (e.g. under the Windrush Scheme)

Read more about moving to the UK, or for more information on British citizenships, please visit