The UK is among the top 10 desirable places to live in the world, as per a survey by Global Finance. People from around the globe come to the UK to pursue higher studies and job opportunities, often with an aim to settle here permanently. The UK government has defined various paths to becoming a British citizen. If you meet the requirements defined by the government, you can get UK citizenship. This article is a guide on how to get UK citizenship for Indians.
Benefits of UK Citizenship for Indians
1. You will have the right to stay in Britain indefinitely, and you need not renew your visa or passport. You will be entitled to a permanent right of residence after five years of continuous residence. You can apply for British citizenship after that.
2. You will be eligible to apply for a British passport. The British government issues naturalized ordinary (O) category passport to those granted citizenship. As per rule 12B, if you are an adult by 18 years, you can apply for its O category passport within three months of obtaining a British Citizenship Certificate. However, permission from their parents or guardians is required for children younger than 18 years.
3. You can travel freely to any European country or other parts of the world, and you may stay there for a year without a visa.
4. You will be entitled to vote in British elections. However, this right is subject to residence and means of naturalization in Britain, i.e., if you are an immigrant, you need to be a permanent resident for five years before the age of 18 before obtaining such right. Likewise, suppose you are an Indian citizen by origin. In that case, you must have been a permanent resident for five years before the age of 18 to have that voting right from the date of obtaining a British citizenship certificate (BCC).
5. You will be entitled to receive free healthcare, education, and other benefits such as pensions and burial grants. In addition, your children will NOT have any restrictions on their right to study abroad in UK or travel overseas under British Citizenship. However, they will NOT apply for work permits under the Points Based System (PBS). In addition, they may not work in any sector which involves weapons or security but can still work in the services sector.
6. If you are an Indian, likely, you will not have to pay any tax in Britain as an O category citizen. However, if you are a non-O category citizen, there may be some taxes that may apply as per the policy of the British government. Still, these can change depending on factors such as the UK’s fiscal policies or changes in the political situation.
7. The UK does not have exit-entry control for its nationals on their return from other countries. However, Indians who have not acquired British citizenship by birth or by marriage and have not been granted it (e.g., immigrants who come to Britain on a student visa or work permit) need to carry a passport with them all the time and must apply for an entry visa before their return to Britain.
8. You will be able to sponsor your parents or your spouse’s parents for permanent settlement if you are an O category citizen. However, in that case, your parent or spouse’s parents must have been living with you in the UK for at least five years. But there is no such requirement for non-O category citizens.
9. You can work in Britain whether you are an O or a non-O category citizen of Britain. However, it may be possible that you will have to pay higher taxes (e.g., National Insurance).
10. In the event of your death in British hospitals, your remains can be taken back to India without any charges being levied on them. However, it may be possible that you may have to pay for the funeral cost according to a certain price list set by the government of Britain (but this depends on which hospital and city where your remains are to be returned).
How to get British Citizenship?
There are various ways to get UK citizenship for Indians. If you are a British citizen by birth or by marriage or by descent, you don’t need to apply for naturalization as you are entitled to possess British Citizenship in the first place.
According to the rules of naturalization, any person can apply for British Citizenship if they have lived in Britain (or its territories) as a permanent resident for at least five years before the age of 18 and continuously for at least five years after that. However, in the case of Indians, there is no such UK citizenship requirement. Immigrants can hold a British passport if –
1. They are naturalized British citizens.
2. They have been granted citizenship by Birth or Marriage to a British Citizen spouse (or civil partner).
3. They are a British Citizen by descent from at least one parent who is a British Citizen by birth or marriage to a British citizen (this is considered as a “naturalization through marriage”).
4. You are a British Citizen by the birth of a parent (or parents) who were themselves British Citizens by birth or marriage to a British Citizen (this is considered as a “naturalization through birth”).
5. You are the spouse of a British Citizen.
If you want to apply for naturalization, you must reside in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland for at least four years in the five years before the date you apply for it, and that period doesn’t need to be continuous during. In addition, you must have at least English Language Skills at level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. If you are married to a British Citizen, you must be living in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland for at least three years before the date you apply for it, and that period doesn’t need to be continuous.
Types of Visas
There are various types of visas for Indians to live and work in Britain. However, you must have a visa to enter the UK. Here are short descriptions of various visas: –
1. Tier 1 Visa (General):
A points-based system is used to allocate Tier 1 visas. Points are given for age, qualifications, and previous earnings/investment in Britain. You can also earn some other points like English language skills, previous work experience, etc. It is the main route for Indians whose employers have got a certificate of sponsorship from the Home Office. If you are a teacher, you will not get this visa under the Points Based System.
2. Tier 2 Visa (General):
There are two categories – Skilled and Intra-company transfer. The scheme is divided into many sections, and each section provides a certain number of points for your qualifications. However, it is worth noting that the allocation of certain categories under this scheme has been made low by the British government. E.g., Doctors and Teachers in India don’t qualify for any quota under this category and will have to go through the tier 2 Intra-company transferee category.
3. Tier 2 Visa (Intra-company transfers):
If you are an Indian employee of a multinational company based in India, you can apply for this type of visa. If your employer has a certificate from the Home Office, you will be eligible to get this visa. It is good news for Indians who want to live in Britain cannot get a tier 1 general category visa.
4. Tier 5 Visa (Young People):
This is for young people aged 18 and 30 years. The applicant must be from outside the European Union. They must work in a position to create jobs for young persons in the UK. Before applying for it, the applicant must have been outside the European Union for at least three months. However, if they already have a job offer or have a certificate of sponsorship issued by the employer, they can apply with just one month’s gap outside the EU.
5. Tier 6 Visa (Youth Mobility Scheme):
This is only available to Indian nationals under 30 years of age between 18 and 29 years old at the time of British citizenship application form.
6. Tier 4 (General) Visa:
This applies to some Indian nationals employed in Britain and who want to live in Britain for a limited period. This visa allows the holder to stay in the UK for two years and return after two years. The holder will not be allowed to apply for settlement or permanent residence during the period of this visa, and they can only use their visa for entering and leaving Britain. The holder must also provide a certificate of sponsorship from their employer.
7. HSMP Visa:
This visa is available to the spouses or civil partners of British Citizens. It is indefinite leave to remain visa (ILR). However, if the holder wishes to work in Britain, they must apply for a work permit. The holder will also have to satisfy the good character requirement and must have been living in Britain for at least one year before applying for it.
8. Ancestry Visa:
Indians from Fiji, Pakistan, and Bangladesh can apply for this British Ancestry Visa after their 4 years’ residence in Britain. This rule applies only to those who came here before 1971, as those Indians who came after are now considered immigrants instead of ex-colonial subjects like previously.
9. UK Settlement:
A person can apply for British settlement after five years married or eight years living in Britain.
Steps to be followed for acquiring UK Citizenship
The process for Indian nationals to become a British citizen follows these steps:
1. Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and get it granted.
2. UK Citizenship Test is taken along with Life in the UK test (both are compulsory).
3. Attend the ceremony and get British Citizenship confirmed by the Home Office if successful.
4. Apply for Permanent Residence (PR).
5. Apply for British Citizenship based on the points you collected after achieving the above three stages.
6. After obtaining British Citizenship, if you wish to work in Britain, you must apply for a Tier 2 visa, i.e., Skilled Worker or Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit based on your qualifications and experience, which earns points under Points Based System of immigration.
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Documents required for acquiring UK Citizenship
Generally, these are the documents you should have:
1. Birth certificate and certified copies of it with Apostille.
2. Marriage certificate translated into English, if applicable.
3. Children’s birth certificates and certified copies of them with Apostille if applicable.
4. Marriage Certificate if applicable (for husband or wife).
5. Any divorce decrees, Death certificates, etc. (as applicable).
6. Any court orders for maintenance and child support if applicable.
7. Your passport with a valid visa/entry stamp (at least 9 months) from the date of application.
8. Two photographs and certified copies of it with Apostille if applicable.
9. Proof of address in the UK in utility bills or bank statements etc.
10. Employment documents, including ERCs, P60s, etc.
UK ILR vs. Citizenship
ILR and UK citizenship have their advantages but are different from each other. A person can live and work in the UK after acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) but does not get the right to vote or apply for a British passport. However, these rights are available once you become a British citizen. You can leave the UK for up to 2 years if you have ILR. If your return after this period, you need to apply for a return visa. However, you can stay outside of the county indefinitely if you have British citizenship.
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Acquiring UK residency and citizenship as an Indian (or any other) national may be a long process. However, the same can be justified by the privileges enjoyed by UK citizens over non-permanent residents. The rights include the right to vote in elections, the right to work and live permanently in Britain, the right to buy property, apply for a marriage or civil partnership with a British national free of charge, and many others.
Q1. Is it worth moving to the UK from India?
A. Yes, it is worth moving to the UK from India. The UK is a popular destination, and many Indians have moved there for high-quality education, a comfortable lifestyle, good amenities, and a multicultural environment. The UK is the biggest market for Indian professionals.
Q2. Can Indians get UK citizenship easily?
A. UK citizenship is not easy, especially if you are a Tier-2 visa holder. You need to be a UK permanent resident or a Tier-1 visa holder (e.g., as a student or skilled professional) to apply for an ILR, and if you have been working in the UK for many years, then it is easier for you to get an ILR.
Q3. What is the fastest way to get UK citizenship?
A. Many people dream about getting British Citizenship, so people from all over the world come to the UK to get an ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain). The fastest way of getting it is by being a student or a skilled worker (Tier-1) visa holder. However, these visas are not easily granted. When applying for an ILR, you do not need to be present in the country.
Q4. Can you live in the UK without being a citizen?
A. Yes, you can live in the UK without being a citizen. You can be granted an ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) to stay in the country until a specified date.
Q5. Is it hard to become a UK citizen?
A. Yes, it is pretty tough. You have to be a citizen for at least ten years to apply for British citizenship, and you need to be of good character and not convicted of any crime. In addition, there are many other documents that you need to show the UK government about yourself.
Q6. Can you hold British and Indian citizenship?
A. Yes, you can hold British and Indian citizenship. You can hold any other nationality along with it as well.
Q7. Can Indian students get citizenship in the UK?
A. Yes, but it is not recommended. Since it is a two-year process and you cannot work while applying for it, along with not having ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) until you get citizenship, it doesn’t make much sense to apply for British citizenship based on being an Indian unless you are planning to settle down there. In addition, most people prefer Work Permit Visa or Tier-1 visa to get an ILR rather than applying for citizenship.