As the end of the year approaches, so does the end of the transition period after the UK left the EU. Many EU nationals, and their family members, have already applied for a permanent right to live in the UK, known as settled status, but some are now considering whether they want to become British nationals as well.
The process of becoming a British national is known as naturalisation, and while it is usually straightforward there are some factors which make it more complicated for those with settled status. Given an application costs £1,330 and if an application is refused the Home Office only refund £80, it is important that anyone applying for naturalisation makes sure they get it right first time.
The main issues for EU nationals applying with settled status are:
1) Evidence of residence
Normally, providing evidence of residence in a naturalisation application is simply a case of providing passports for the relevant period. However, as EU nationals don’t receive stamps when entering the UK, they have to provide additional evidence.
In order for the Home Office to accept evidence of residence by an EU national, it is necessary to show that the EU national was living lawfully in the UK and has not breached immigration law in the last 10 years. This means providing evidence of being:
- A worker;
- Self employed;
- A student;
- A job seeker; or
- A self sufficient person.
The major issue arises for students and self sufficient people. Before Brexit, they could only obtain a permanent right to live in the UK if they had private medical insurance. When the settled status requirement was announced, this requirement was removed, so many EU nationals obtained a permanent right to live in the UK without insurance, and it was assumed this would not be an issue at the naturalisation stage. Recent Home Office guidance has confirmed that caseworkers can refuse applications if the applicant relies on a period of study or self sufficiency and doesn’t provide evidence of insurance.
The recent guidance is likely to lead to an increased number of refusals, and anyone who intends to rely on a period of residence when insurance was required should take advice before applying.
2) The English language requirement
Another common issue for EU nationals is that a naturalisation application is the first time they are required to show they speak English to the level required by the Home Office. Often this requires someone to pass an English language test, but not every type of test is accepted by the Home Office. Sitting the wrong test will lead to a refusal so it is an area where care needs to be taken.
3) Lack of an appeal against a refusal
As there are a number of potential pitfalls for applicants, another concern is that if an application is refused there is no right to appeal. There is the possibility of requesting a review of the decision, but no new evidence can be submitted which means it is vital to get it right first time.
The decision to become a British national is a major one, particularly when it can mean giving up your previous nationality if your home country doesn’t allow dual nationality. The cost of the application means that it is important to take care when preparing the supporting evidence or there is a risk of refusal.
We have already helped EU national clients make successful applications for British citizenship and offer a range of support packages, including a one off checking service to give you peace of mind and avoid any expensive errors. If you would like help with an application please get in touch.
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