Two of the requirements to naturalise as a British citizen relate to the lawfulness of an applicant’s residence in the UK. Firstly, there is the requirement to complete five years’ lawful residence immediately preceding the application (or three years if you are married to a British citizen). The second requirement falls within the good character criteria which includes compliance with the immigration rules in the 10 years preceding the application.
The Nationality and Borders Act brought in amendments to these provisions on 28 June 2022 and the nationality guidance has recently been updated to reflect these changes.
Where an individual holds indefinite leave to remain in the UK (ILR), they can be treated as meeting the lawful residence requirement during the qualifying period, without further enquiry.
This is useful for many EEA nationals and their family members who may not have resided in the UK in accordance with the EEA Regulations, for example if they did not have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance, but were granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The guidance also now states that breaches relating to illegal entry, absconding and overstaying may also be disregarded in the 10 year period, provided that they have been granted ILR and there are no concerns arising in relation to this.
The new, more generous provisions apply only to naturalisation applications submitted on or after 28 June 2022.
We understand that some clients who were previously advised against applying to naturalise may now be eligible under the new provisions. We would encourage anyone with any queries on these changes to contact us for advice.