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How long do we need to be married before my spouse can get British citizenship?


Obtaining British Citizenship is possible for overseas nationals married to settled UK residents but the process is strongly regulated and requires legal advice and representation by a qualified solicitor. The process is subject to a fee which is not refundable if your application for citizenship, or naturalisation, is rejected: As a result of this, it is important to get the best possible advice from your solicitor prior to making your application.
There are seven basic requirements which must be fulfilled for an application for naturalisation to have any chance of success. To begin with, your spouse must be over the age of 18 and of sound mind. They must be able to demonstrate ability to communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic to an acceptable standard having sat a test, and must have passed the test demonstrating sufficient knowledge of life within the UK. In addition to this, your spouse must be of good character and must either meet the residential requirements, or be in service of the Crown overseas. 
In order to demonstrate the residential requirements for an application for citizenship, your spouse must meet various criteria covering the three years prior to the application, known as the residential qualifying period:
  • They must have been resident in the UK for at least three years
  • They must have been resident in the UK three years before the application was made
  • They must not have spent more than 270 days outside the UK during that three year period
  • They must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of that three-year period
  • They must not have been in breach of any immigration rules during that three year period
The residential qualifying period is calculated from the date the application is received. The vast majority of claims fail because partners were not present in the UK three years before the application was made. This is a very precise requirement, so that if your application was made on 31st December 2010, you must be able to demonstrate that your spouse was in the UK on 1st January 2008
If you would like to obtain legal advice on British citizenship, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 0800 177 7162 or complete the web-form above.
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