Back in 2010, I first arrived in the UK, to do my degree. Eleven years passed by so quickly, and I recently applied for and became a UK citizen. It was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, mostly because there aren't many people you can talk to about it and at £1330, it is expensive! In this article, I describe my experience of applying for UK citizenship. This is just my personal experience. Please rely on the official guidance if you are applying for it.
I started filling in the form and scanning required documents.
I could have applied on this day, but I was not fully prepared yet.
On submitting my application, I was able to book my biometrics appointment immediately. I booked the earliest free appointment which was about a month away. I paid £46 for the optional UKVCAS document checking service. Following the booking, I uploaded my documents. The deadline for uploading them was 2 days before the biometrics appointment, so I had plenty of time.
I got an email confirming that my documents were in order.
The appointment took about ten minutes. They scanned my current passport and that was it. Following my appointment, I travelled to India on holiday.
I received an invitation via email asking me to book my ceremony within 6 months (under non-Covid circumstances it would have been three months). However, I had to wait until I was back in the UK to book it.
Once I got back to the UK, I emailed my council. They called me back in a day or so and booked me in for the ceremony the week after.
I collected my certificate of naturalisation.
I returned my ILR biometric card as legally required. Without a new UK passport, I would not be able to travel abroad. I applied for a new passport. I posted my Indian passport and certificate of naturalisation to the passport office.
Free to travel abroad as a British citizen.
The form itself took a couple of days of effort to fill. Travel history was easy because I already had prepared it for my ILR application the year before. The hardest bit to fill in were details about previous UK immigration applications. I had to search through emails from years ago. I didn't find application reference numbers or dates for all of them, but that was okay because those fields were optional. Overall, the citizenship application didn't feel as difficult as the ILR application.
When I applied, it gave me some further actions (see what it looked like for me).
The earliest available appointments cost about £100 or more if I recall
correctly. The only free biometrics appointments I could find were a month away.
According to UKVCAS FAQ,
appointments are released daily, 28 days in advance. As soon as I booked the
appointment, I was allowed to upload my supporting documents.
I uploaded the following documents to UKVCAS (see
what it looked like for me).
It required them to be grouped by
type - so I had to guess which type to put
them under. I used my ILR to meet two of the requirements. I also was not sure
what to submit as proof of living in the UK for 5 years. I submitted as many
documents as I could think of. Fortunately, the document checking service I had
paid for confirmed that everything was in order.
|Requirement||What I submitted||Document type|
My current passport (front and back only)
Proof of application
Proof of living in the UK for 5 years
All pages for my current and previous passports, P60s for the last five years, and reference letters from my current and previous employer.
Proof of identity / Travel History
Proof of freedom from immigration time restrictions
Residence in the UK
Degree certificate to prove level of English
Certificate from my UK university
Two referee declarations
Referee letters from two of my friends
Sponsors / Employment
Current Biometric Residence Permit
Residence in the UK
This took about ten minutes at most. They only wanted to scan my current passport as I had uploaded all my other supporting documents already.
My ceremony was at Redbridge Town Hall. When I got there, I queued up with ten or so other attendees. Due to Covid none of us was allowed to bring any guests with us. I had to show an id proof and the email inviting me to the ceremony before I could get seated. A lady explained the process to all of us, following which each of us had to stand up and read the affirmation (or oath) of allegiance and the pledge. Following this, we were given a few minutes to take photos of ourselves in front of a picture of the Queen. It took about 45 minutes in all.
Check out the official guidance about what will happen at the ceremony.
The two main things I was required to do following the ceremony were:
Since this was my first passport application, I was also required to post my current passport and my certificate of naturalisation to the passport office. One thing I found annoying was that it took them three weeks to update the website to say they had received my documents.
For all of my previous VISA applications, I had a company lawyer supporting me. However, for my citizenship, I had to apply on my own. It was quite stressful not to have a qualified person to check my application or clarify my questions. Luckily, I was able to consult a friend of mine who had applied recently. I also found a few helpful videos on YouTube.
It felt pretty good to get my British citizenship after such a long wait. If you're pursuing British citizenship, I hope my article was of some use to you. Good luck!