Great Britain is a country with a high standard of living, quality medicine, a developed education system, and a rich cultural life. It is comfortable to work here and raise children.
The UK is traditionally among the top 10 most desirable places to live.
We share useful facts with those who are planning to become a British citizen or obtain a residence permit.
Benefits of British citizenship
Freedom of travel. A UK passport will replace a visa for entering 185 states, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and the Schengen countries.
The UK withdrew from the European Union on January 31st, 2020. Travel rules are being discussed during the transition period until the end of 2021. It is assumed that a visa-free regime for travel up to 90 days will operate between the EU countries and the UK.
Democracy. Great Britain is known for its stable politics, economy and society. In 2020, the country was ranked 16th amongst others in terms of democratic development.
Opportunities for work and business. London ranks fifth in terms of the amount of corporate offices from the Global Fortune 500, such as BP, Aviva, Prudential, Unilever. The average annual income of a resident of the UK is £31,461 and this figure is only growing every year.
The Equality Act protects equal rights when applying for a job, preventing discrimination based on nationality, gender, age or religion. A complete overview of rights in the law.
Quality medicine. Most medical services are available to the citizens for free. The UK National Health System ranks high in the global chart of rankings.
The average life expectancy in the country is constantly growing, in 2020 it was 81 years old.
Prestigious education. UK universities are in the top 10 world ranking. In 2020, the UK ranked first in Europe and second in the world after the United States for the quality of higher education. Ranking criteria include academic reputation and the number of employed graduates.
Comfortable living conditions. In 2021, the UK entered the top five European countries with the best environment.
15 national parks occupy 8% of the UK. In the northwest is the Lake District, England's largest national park which is popular among climbers, hikers and sailors.
The British love outdoor walks and an extensive network of pedestrian paths have been created in the countryside.
How to get British citizenship
A UK passport can be obtained through registration or naturalization.
UK citizenship registration by birth is available to children under 18 if:
- at least one parent is a British citizen;
- the parents have permanent residence in the UK or a visa that allows them to obtain it;
- it is impossible to determine the child's citizenship.
Naturalization is obtaining citizenship of a country by an adult foreigner.
In order to obtain a UK passport, it is important to fulfill the conditions of immigration law.
How to get UK citizenship by naturalization
|How long will it take||Requirements|
|5 years||After two or three years of living in the UK on an Investor Visa (Tier 1), you can obtain a permanent residence permit – Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)|
|5 years||Marry a citizen of the country or an ILR owner|
|6 years||Live in the UK for five years on an immigrant visa that allows you to obtain ILR|
|10 years||Live in the UK for ten years on legal grounds. For example, first on a student visa and then on a work visa|
|20 years||Illegally live in the UK for 20 years without deportation warrants|
Three stages of obtaining British citizenship
A strict sequence of obtaining citizenship is prescribed in UK law. You will need to fulfill the requirements of one of the programs and comply with the laws of the country.
To obtain British citizenship, an applicant needs to go through three stages.
Stage 1: Immigrant Visa. First you need to get a visa that entitles you to permanent residence. You will need to live in the country for five years, after which you can apply for ILR status. During this period, it is important to stay in the UK for at least 186 days each year.
An application for an immigrant visa can be submitted by a person over 18 years old who has not had problems with the law. For the Investor Visa (Tier 1), the age limit is lower: it can be applied for from the age of 16.
Together with the main applicant, British citizenship can be obtained by a spouse and children under 18 years of age. It will not be possible to include parents in the application, even if they are financially dependent on the applicant.
Each region of the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – has its own marriage and family laws. Same-sex marriage is recognized throughout most of the country.
You can apply for an immigrant visa at the British Diplomatic Post, Visa Application Center in your arearnof residence or at the UK Home Office.
The applicant provides photographs, a passport, a certificate of no criminal record for the last 10 years from each country where he has lived for more than a year, and proof of income sufficient to live in the country. Foreigners also attach a certificate of absence from tuberculosis.
The documents are translated into English and notarized.
Immigrant visas that open the way for permanent residence in the UK
- Tier 1 Investor Visa – investment visa;
- Tier 2 – a work visa from a company with an employee quota;
- Sole Representative – visa for the only business representative in the UK;
- Global Talent Visa – visa for academics, cultural or scientific workers;
- Start-up Visa – a visa for a unique startup or business which is not available in the UK;
- Innovator Visa – an innovator's visa; issued mainly for the IT sector and is extremely rare due to the complexity of the design.
We talked in detail about visas for innovators and start-up owners in the article on residence permit in the UK by investment.
Stage 2: permanent residence. ILR can be obtained after five years of living in the UK on an immigrant visa, which entitles you to permanent residence. Accelerated registration of permanent residence in two or three years is possible for an investor visa Tier 1 Investor.
To obtain permanent residence, you need to fill out an application on the Home Office website and upload scans of the necessary documents. The government department reviews the application with a time frame of up to six months.
For the investor visa, there is an expedited processing service: Premium Service takes five days, Super Premium Service takes 24 hours. The service is available on weekdays and after the submission of biometric data. For example, if an applicant has used the Super Premium Service and submitted documents on Monday, then the decision on the application will be ready on Tuesday. If you submit documents on Friday, the decision will be made on Monday.
The fee for the application processing for each applicant is £2,389. The expedited review service is paid separately: £500 for Premium Service or £800 for Super Premium Service.
The applicant and family members between the ages of 18 and 65 will need to pass the Life in the UK Test and the English oral exam for the B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).
Stage 3: citizenship. 12 months after receiving permanent residence, you can apply for citizenship. It is important not to leave the UK for more than 90 days this year. The citizenship application fee is £1,330.
Main conditions for obtaining British citizenship
- live in the UK for six years or more;
- comply with the laws of the country;
- have sufficient income not to depend on the state;
- swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch, confirm a desire to stay in the UK, or maintain relationships with the country, such as working or doing business.
Investor Visa (Tier 1) is the fastest route to UK citizenship
|Visa cost||1623 £|
|Visa validity period||3 years and 4 months|
3 years if applied in the UK
|Renewal option||For 2 more years|
|Permanent residence||After 5 years|
|Accelerated permanent residence||After 2 years with investments from £10,000,000|
After 3 years with investments from £5,000,000
|Knowledge of the English language||Not required|
The Investor Visa (Tier 1) allows the applicant and his family members to obtain citizenship by investing in the UK economy from £2,000,000.
To apply for a Tier 1 visa, the applicant will need:
- confirm the legal origin of the money for the investment;
- open an account with a British financial institution regulated by the FCA;
- successfully pass the bank Due Diligence check;
- provide a certificate of no criminal record from each country where the applicant has lived for more than 12 months in the last 10 years. The certificate is valid for 6 months.
British consulates in other countries process visa documents for three weeks. The deadline will increase to eight weeks if you apply in the UK.
A visa decision will be ready in five working days if you use the Priority Service expedited document review service. The cost of the service is £500.
The applicant initially receives a Tier 1 visa for 30 days, and upon arrival in the UK, a biometric residence permit valid for 40 months. Within three months after entering the UK, the investor buys £2,000,000 of corporate shares or bonds of UK companies.
|You cannot invest||You can invest|
| In a company whose main activity is investment in real estate;|
in offshore companies.
The investor can extend the visa for another two years. This will require maintaining the investment for 40 months before applying for an extension. After five years, the money can be returned.
The investor and his family members will be able to live, work and study in the UK.
There are no special requirements for applicants: you do not need to know English or have experience in doing business.
Obtaining permanent residence. After five years of living in the UK, the investor and his family members can apply for permanent residence. To do this, you must have lived in the UK for at least 186 days within 12 months.
Accelerated receipt of permanent residence is possible in two years if the investor invests £10,000,000 in the UK economy, or after three years when investing £5,000,000.
Only the main applicant can accelerate the receipt of permanent residence by increasing the investment contribution.
The investor and family members will need to successfully pass the UK history and social order test.
Adult applicants under the age of 65 take an oral examination in English up to B1 level on the CEFR scale.
The UK Department considers a permanent residence application for six months. There is an expedited review service within five days through the Priority Service, or within 24 hours through the Super Priority Service.
Fees for applying for permanent residence in the UK:
- £2,389 – for each person;
- £500 – extra for the Priority Service;
- £800 – extra for the Super Priority Service.
Obtaining citizenship. The investor, his or her spouse and children under 18 years old can apply for UK citizenship by investment one year after receiving permanent residence. During this period, it is important not to travel outside the UK for more than 90 days.
Application fee for citizenship by investment for each person is £1330.
Sole Representative Visa for a foreign company member in the UK
|Visa cost||From £610 if paid outside the UK|
|Visa validity period||3 years|
|Renewal option||Repeatedly for 2 more years|
|Permanent residence||After 5 years|
|Accelerated permanent residence||No|
|Knowledge of the English language||A1 level Listening and Speaking|
A Sole Representative Visa can be obtained by a senior executive of a foreign company that previously did not have a commercial presence in the UK. This visa is used by representatives of foreign media who have received a long-term assignment to the UK.
The only representative of a foreign company is not entitled to:
- work for yourself or for another employer;
- work as a doctor without special education or work experience in a similar specialty in the UK;
- work as a professional athlete or coach;
- qualify for government subsidies and benefits.
Visa applications can be submitted three months prior to travel. For example, if the trip is scheduled for the 15th of June, the application is submitted on the 16th of March. The decision on the visa comes within three weeks. There is no expedited document review service for this visa.
It is important that the applicant can make decisions on behalf of the company, but is not its majority shareholder and is owning less than 50% of the share capital.
You will need to register a representative office in the UK. Opening an office is not required if the work is related to remote activities.
It is necessary to prove financial viability. The minimum amount is not specified in the laws and is calculated based on current market prices for rental housing and the cost of food. For example, in 2021, the minimum amount for an applicant's residence is £18,600 per year.
You will need to successfully pass the A1 level test of Elementary Listening and Speaking. An exception is made regarding applicants who studied at the university in English and have a bachelor's or master's degree.
Together with the main applicant, the Sole Representative Visa can be obtained by his children under 18 and his spouse. Before applying for a visa, the applicant and his family members pay a medical fee – the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The fee for each family member is £400 per year. In case of visa refusal, the IHS fee is fully refundable.
Obtaining permanent residence. After five years of living in the UK, the applicant and his family members can apply for permanent residence. It is important to live in the UK for at least 186 days within 12 months.
To obtain permanent residence, the applicant and adult family members will need to successfully pass the UK history and social order test. Every applicant under the age of 65 takes an oral English exam up to B1 level on the CEFR scale.
The fee for applying for permanent residence is £2,389 per person. The UK Department reviews documents for six months. There is no expedited processing service for this category of visa.
Obtaining citizenship. the applicant, their spouse and children under 18 years of age can apply for citizenship one year after receiving permanent residence. During this year, the applicant may not travel outside the UK for more than 90 days.
The citizenship application fee is £1,330 per person.
Interesting facts about the UK
Currency. The official currency of Great Britain is pound sterling. Northern Ireland and Scotland issue their own banknotes which are valid throughout the country. Shops in the other regions of the UK are not required to accept them, but in reality, there are no problems. If a shop refuses to accept a Scottish or Northern Irish banknote, it can be exchanged at a bank or a post office.
Languages and dialects. The official language is English. However, there are many accents and dialects in different parts of the UK. Additionally, separate languages exist and are very different from English. Welsh is officially spoken in Wales, Gaelic is spoken in Scotland and Irish Gaelic is spoken in Northern Ireland.
Architecture. Cathedrals in Durham, Lincoln, Canterbury and Salisbury have survived from the Middle Ages. The White Tower in the Tower of London is a Norman castle fortress built by order of William the Conqueror. Windsor Castle is the oldest castle and is still inhabited; it was founded at the end of the 11th century.
Garden design and landscaping play an important role in the UK. The tradition was introduced by the landscape architect Lancelot Brown from the 18th century. He designed the territory of country houses so that a landscape appears more natural with trees and lakes.
The UK climate is mild for this latitude and each region has its own characteristics: the north is colder and rainy, while the south and the center of the country are warm and dry.
The warmest months are July and August. The average daily temperature in London is +23°C and +18°C in Edinburgh and Belfast.
Snow covers the mountainous regions in the north, but in the center and the south, snow is rare and melts quickly. The average daily temperature is around freezing.
Sport. Popular sports originated in the UK such as boxing, football, tennis, golf, cricket and rugby. The country regularly hosts international competitions; the Olympic Games has taken place three times in the UK.
Frequently Asked Questions
The fastest way is to obtain citizenship by investment after an Investor Visa (Tier 1). After two years, the applicant can receive permanent residence and citizenship another year later, if he invests in UK companies stocks or bonds from £10,000,000. With investments of £5,000,000, permanent residence can be obtained in three years and citizenship in another year. The investor can return the investment after receiving permanent residence.
To obtain citizenship you will need to:
- live in the country for six years on a visa with the right to receive permanent residence;
- comply with UK law;
- have income for living in the country without state support;
- confirm knowledge of the English language on B1 level;
- successfully pass the British history test.
You will also need to swear allegiance to the monarch and confirm the desire to live in the UK or keep in touch with the country.
Citizenship and permanent british residence will be refused if a person has violated immigration laws:
- submitted false documents or concealed information;
- lived in the country longer than allowed by a visa;
- received government benefits or used free medical services if they are prohibited by the category of the visa;
- illegally worked or studied;
- entered into a fictitious marriage;
- violated the laws of the UK.
Yes, you can. For example, if the child was living on a student visa while studying. An exception is the Sole Representative Visa: it is not possible to switch to it.
No. British citizenship can be obtained if:
- at least one parent is a British citizen;
- both parents have permanent residence status in the UK;
- parents live in the country on a visa with the right to apply for permanent residence.
British citizenship by birth is issued to children upon registration.
British citizenship is suitable for those who are going to permanently live, work or do business in the UK. This is not an option when a passport is obtained for travel or tax optimization. Visa-free travel and tax optimization can be obtained through citizenship programs of Vanuatu and five Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia or Dominica’s. Read more in the article on how to get a Caribbean passport or Vanuatu citizenship.
Yes, it is allowed: there are no restrictions in UK law on this.
The Queen does not have a UK passport but this circumstance did not prevent Elizabeth II from visiting more than 100 countries. As stated on the royal family’s website, the passport is issued on behalf of Her Majesty, so she does not need it.