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How Indians Can Get UK Citizenship: Process, Eligibility, Fees and Requirements

Updated on 13 June, 2024

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

How Indians Can Get UK Citizenship

The UK is an alluring destination that attracts international students from all over the globe, including India. They migrate to the country to get a world-class education and leverage exciting job prospects. There is also the provision to get UK citizenship for Indians.

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.

  2. You will be eligible to apply for a British passport. The British government issues naturalized ordinary (O) category passport to those granted citizenship.

  3. You can travel freely to any European country, and you may stay there for a year without a visa.

  4. You will be entitled to vote in British elections.

  5. You will be entitled to receive free healthcare, education, and other benefits such as pensions and burial grants.

  6. You will be able to sponsor your parents or your spouse’s parents for permanent settlement if you are an O category citizen.

  7. 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).

How to Get UK (British) Citizenship: Eligibility Criteria

There are various ways for Indians to acquire British citizenship. According to the current UK government guidelines, you can apply for naturalization if you qualify for any of the following requirements:-

Marriage to a British Citizen

You have lived lawfully in the UK for 3 years as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen, without excessive absences. In addition, you should also have ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain).

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

The government will grant UK citizenship to Indians if a person has ILR and has lived in the country for 12 months after getting it. 

A British Parent

If you have a British parent, you can apply for UK citizenship. However, it is also dependent upon your birthplace, date of birth, and parental conditions. The UK government website has the latest requirements for descent-based citizenship.

You must have also passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test, demonstrate sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic, and be of good character to obtain UK citizenship through any of the above three routes.

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Exploring UK Visa Pathways for Indian Nationals

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 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.

5. Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (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.

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How to Apply for UK Citizenship from India: A Step-by-Step Process

UK citizenship for Indians can be obtained by following the below steps:-

1. Get Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Apply for ILR to live, work, or study in the UK as long as you want. 

2. Pass the Life in the UK Test and the UK Citizenship Test

Both tests are mandatory for naturalization. The Life in the UK test assesses your knowledge of British life, values, and customs. The UK Citizenship Test focuses on your understanding of British democracy, rights, and responsibilities. 

3. Meet the Residency Requirement

Before applying for citizenship, you must demonstrate lawful residence in the UK for a specific period (5 or 3 years as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen). 

4. Apply for British Citizenship

Once you meet all the requirements, submit your application, along with 2 references, for UK citizenship for Indians at the Home Office. 

5. Enroll Biometric Details

The Home Office will give you instructions to enter your biometric details online.

6. Attend a Citizenship Ceremony

If your application is successful, you'll be invited to a citizenship ceremony where you'll take the oath of allegiance.

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 Citizenship Application Fees for International Nationals

If you're considering submitting an application for UK citizenship for Indians, you should factor in the associated costs. Here's a quick guide to the fees you can expect.

The Main Fee

The UK government charges a main fee of £1,630. This covers the cost of processing your application by the Home Office.

Additional Costs

Apart from the main fee, there are a few additional costs to consider:

  • Biometric Enrollment Fee: This is the fee for taking your fingerprints and a photograph during the application process. It's usually a small amount, and you'll be informed of the exact cost when you apply.

Investment Routes to UK Citizenship: Opportunities and Requirements 

While there isn't a direct "citizenship by investment" program in the UK, certain investor visa routes can help you gradually obtain British citizenship. 

If you're an Indian entrepreneur or investor looking to start a business in the UK and settle there as a citizen, here's how to get UK citizenship for Indians by Investment:-

1. Obtain an Innovator Founder Visa

If you intend to start and operate an innovative business in the UK, you can apply for an Innovator Founder Visa; however, your product or service must be unique. You can stay for 3 years with this visa and apply for an extension for another 3 years innumerable times.

Requirements

  • Your business or business idea should be endorsed by an authorized body, referred to as an endorsing body. 
  • You cannot collaborate with a firm that is already in operation.
  • You need to have a unique business concept that sets you apart from the competition.
  • Your business should be viable and have room to expand.
  • You must demonstrate that your plan involves expanding into both domestic and foreign markets and creating jobs.
  • You should have English proficiency
  • Other eligibility requirements can be checked here.

2. Apply for ILR

Once you have the Innovator Founder Visa, you can apply for ILR.

3. Get UK Citizenship

If you have an ILR, you can apply for the British citizenship.

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Handling UK Citizenship Application Rejection: Steps to Take

A UK citizenship rejection stings, but it doesn't have to derail your plans. Here's a quick guide to get you back on track:-

1. Understand the "Why"

Read your rejection letter closely. It should clearly outline the Home Office's concerns. If unclear, request an "administrative review" within 28 days to check for procedural errors.

2. Fight or Reconsider

Here is how you can choose between reapplying and reconsideration:-

  • Reapply: If you believe there's a mistake or have new evidence, consider a "reapplication" (requires a new fee).
  • Reconsideration: If you have strong reasons but no new evidence, request a reconsideration within the given timeframe (usually free, but lower success rate).

3. Seek Expert Help

An immigration lawyer can analyze your situation, assess your options (repel vs. reconsider), and guide you through the process.

4. Improve Your Chances

The rejection might highlight areas you need to address. Focus on strengthening those aspects before resubmitting.

5. Explore Alternatives

Depending on your situation, consider alternative routes to settlement, such as marriage to a British citizen or getting a skilled worker visa.

Remember, rejection is a hurdle, not a dead end. By understanding the reasons, exploring options, and potentially seeking professional help, you can increase your chances of becoming a UK citizen.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) vs British Citizenship

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and UK citizenship have their advantages but are different from each other. A person can live and work in the UK after acquiring 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 you you return after this period, you need to apply for a return visa. However, you can stay outside of the country indefinitely if you have British citizenship.

Let’s check the differences and similarities between ILR and British citizenship.

FeatureILR British Citizenship
Right to live and work in the UKYesYes
Right to vote in UK electionsNoYes
Ability to apply for a British passportNoYes
Maximum stay outside the UKUp to 2 years consecutivelyIndefinite

Wales Citizenship and Scotland Citizenship: Exploring Regional Options

There is no separate citizenship for Wales and Scotland! The UK functions as one for immigration. Becoming a British citizen unlocks the opportunity to stay in any state of the UK.

Why No Separate Citizenship

Wales and Scotland have devolved governments with control over some areas, but immigration falls under the central UK government. This means one UK citizenship applies everywhere.

National Identity

Despite the lack of separate citizenship, Wales and Scotland boast distinct cultures. People may identify as Welsh or Scottish alongside being British.

Exploring Wales and Scotland as a British Citizen

  • Live & Work Freely: UK citizenship grants this privilege throughout the UK.
  • Immerse Yourself: Experience rich cultures through language, festivals, and local community interactions.
  • Devolution in Action: Learn how devolved governments shape life in these regions.

UK citizenship is your key to experiencing all of the UK, including the unique cultures of Wales and Scotland.

Conclusion

The path to UK citizenship for Indian nationals is a structured and multi-faceted process that requires careful planning, adherence to legal requirements, and patience.

From obtaining the appropriate visa to achieving Indefinite Leave to Remain, and finally applying for citizenship, each step must be approached with diligence and a clear understanding of the UK's immigration policies.

Successfully navigating this journey not only grants the privilege of British citizenship but also opens up a realm of opportunities and rights in the UK.

Learn About Other Countries Citizenship
How to Get Canada CitizenshipHow to Get Ireland Citizenship
How to Get Australian CitizenshipHow to Get PR in Switzerland

FAQs

Is it worth moving to the UK from India?

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.

Can Indians get UK citizenship easily?

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.

What is the fastest way to get UK citizenship?

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.

Can you live in the UK without being a citizen?

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.

Is it hard to become a UK citizen?

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.

Can you hold British and Indian citizenship?

Yes, you can hold British and Indian citizenship. You can hold any other nationality along with it as well.

Can Indian students get citizenship in the UK?

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.

Can you be a British citizen with an Indian passport?

The UK allows dual citizenship, but India does not permit dual citizenship. If you become a British citizen, you would need to renounce your Indian citizenship and obtain an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card to maintain certain rights in India.

How long does it take to get citizenship in the UK after ILR?

After obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, you can apply for British citizenship after 12 months. You must also meet other eligibility criteria, such as residency requirements, and pass the Life in the UK Test.

Is permanent residence the same as citizenship in the UK?

No, permanent residence (such as Indefinite Leave to Remain) is not the same as citizenship in the UK. The former allows you to live and work in the UK indefinitely, while citizenship grants you full rights as a British national, including the right to vote and hold a British passport.

How to get UK citizenship for an Indian by marriage?

An Indian can get UK citizenship by marrying a British national and living in the UK for 3 years. You should also have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) to apply for citizenship.

How to get UK citizenship for an Indian by birth?

To obtain UK citizenship by birth, an Indian national would typically need to be born in the UK to at least one parent who is a British citizen or settled in the UK at the time of the birth.

Is PR easy in the UK or the USA?

Getting permanent residency (PR) isn't exactly easy in either the US or UK, but the difficulty can vary depending on your situation. At the same time, the UK has a point-based system, awarding points for qualifications, work experience, salary, and English language proficiency. While, the US process can be more complex, with various categories based on employment, family ties, or investment.

Is PR easy in the UK or Australia?

Both countries have point-based systems to consider PR applications. Again, it isn’t exactly easy in one country than the other. It will depend on your candidature.

Can I get UK citizenship in 1 year?

Obtaining UK citizenship typically takes longer than one year. Most routes to citizenship require applicants to have stayed in the UK for 5 or 3 years, depending on the conditions.

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

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