Gaining British Citizenship. We rarely discuss the challenges and hurdles we have to overcome in obtaining citizenship or a passport in the Western world. But without my British passport, I would never have had the opportunity to travel and taste so many dishes around the world.
I remember like it was yesterday – discovering that I was not a British citizen. It was when I was off to University/College (here after uni).
I remember it so clearly. I had put an application in believing I was British because I was born in the UK, only to be told that I was not British. Having had no idea that if your parent were not British at birth, you, too, would not be considered British.
If both your parents are not British or settled at birth after December 31, 1982, and before July 1, 2006, you will not be considered British. Between 2010 – 2011 I decided that I was going to get my passport. It took me nearly eight months to get my passport. I successfully obtained my British citizenship in June 2012 and am now onto my second British passport – yeah me! Here is my Journey:
Becoming a British Citizen
If you are to become a British Citizen in the UK, you need to of lived in the UK for at least five years before the date of your application. You also should not have broken any UK immigration laws. As I had lived in the UK my whole life from birth, I had this one covered.
You must also consider your circumstances and, if required, complete the Life in the UK test. The other requirements you may need may be easily obtained if you are married or have a civil partner who is a British citizen.
You could meet the requirements differently if you’re a citizen of a country in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, or their family member.
If you are born in the UK, you can apply for British Citizenship by registering, only if you were born after December 1, 1982, and before July 1, 2006. This works well if you are under 18 and can prove you have lived in the UK for the first ten years and have not spent more than 90 days outside the country. I had tried this myself, but as you will see, there was not enough information to gather.
You should find out what status you need to have and other requirements that apply to you before you start your application. Check out the complete requirements here.
My Journey to Becoming a British Citizen
When I applied for British citizenship, I already had indefinite leave to remain in the UK, so I could work, attend school, receive FREE health care, vote, and more. All in all, I could do most everyday things a British Citizen can do. I only didn’t have a passport, so I couldn’t easily travel. It was only while at uni that I saw the opportunity to do a study exchange abroad in Singapore that I knew I wanted to get my passport to move overseas.
I was under 18 when I started the British Citizenship process, and as I was born in the UK, I thought I would only be required to register myself, which at the time seemed reasonable and pretty straightforward. Spending the next six months trying to obtain evidence of the first ten years of my life. I laugh when I say this was not as easy as I thought it would be when I was doing it. Computers weren’t heavily used in schools in the 90s, and my details were still in books for nursery and primary school. I wasn’t a child that was always sick, so I didn’t have vast amounts of doctor appointments to rely on.
Running out of time
I was running out of time to apply for my study exchange. After speaking with my lawyer, I decided to go the naturalisation route. This required me to do the Life in the UK Test, which cost me £50. There are several test centers that you will need to take the test. The test requires you to study. Don’t forget your ID and proof of the test. I suggest booking the test and studying for seven days until the final day. You can practice through the Life in the UK app or here.
The cost of naturalisation to become a British citizen is now £1,330. It was slightly less when I paid for it.
A rough timeline/guide of my what I had to do:
- I already had indefinite leave to remain and met the requirements of being physically present in the UK for five years before my application. Once I completed the Life in the UK test, I was ready to submit my naturalisation application.
- Please note your application may only be accepted if you were in the UK precisely five years before the application was made. However, it depends on why you were not in the country. Find out the details here.
- You can apply by yourself online now. I applied by post (the online option was not available – look how times have changed?), but I would do it online if I were doing it now. You can also do it through an agent representative. They would charge. You can do it yourself if you read the instructions.
- You need documents like your ‘Life in the UK Test’ certificate. I gave in my British Birth certificate, references x2 (people who don’t live with you), and evidence of Indefinite Leave to Remain. You can apply here.
- Once you have completed the form, you will be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).
- Once you get approval, you can book your citizenship ceremony. I was due to go to Ibiza and Marbella for my friend’s 21st birthday, so I booked my ceremony earlier than intended (I had to pay extra for this. I think it was around £60).
- At the ceremony, you will take the citizenship oath (I went with my family) and be declared a British citizen.
- I then received my naturalisation certificate as a British citizen by post and could apply for my British passport. Please keep this naturalisation document safe!
- The British passport requires a similar process where you will need references (x2)- I also had an interview for my passport. I need to write a separate blog post for this – comment if you would like this.
Passport Privilege and traveling
Please note that this is my own journey to getting my British citizenship. Your journey can be highly dependent on your current circumstances. If you are not born in the UK, your application process will differ significantly from mine. You may have to focus first on indefinite leave to remain. If you are like me and were born in the UK, the process will require your birth certificate.
Traveling the world is a massive privilege, and I am blessed to have a British passport. Trust me, and I remind myself daily. I promise you that I do not take my privilege for granted. I have traveled to over 40 countries (still counting). Honestly, I never imagined doing it; a lot of it is accounted for by having a British passport.
Now that I have finished my master’s. I want to be honest and open with you about my journey as a travel food creator. So if you have any questions about my trip I can share, I will. If you enjoy traveling like me and do not have a passport. You can still travel. However, you will need indefinite leave to remain, as I did.
You can apply for a certificate of travel if you have permission to stay. It is also known as ‘leave to remain’. If your country’s national authorities have refused you a passport or travel document. However, that is a small risk. I wouldn’t want to take it when entering the UK, and not having a passport can be tricky while traveling.
Overall, I am grateful for the challenges I experienced and the journey that got me to where I am today. I would never have thought a country bumpking from Swindon (Wroughton) would have been able to get her passport. And to then live to tell the story of traveling! Seeing the world, tasting so many dishes, not to mention living abroad! But guess what? I did, and so can you. This situation taught me I can do anything once I put my mind.
I would like to thank my family and friends for their support and love in getting me through this.
Have any questions? Ask away; I am happy to answer.
Until next time. Love MBV x
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