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Probationary Citizenship in the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 16 Feb 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Citizenship Probationary Citizenship Uk

The concept of probationary citizenship has been developed as part of a major overhaul of UK immigration rules.

Originally foreign nationals were entitled to apply for UK citizenship based almost exclusively on the amount of time they had spent as lawful residents of the UK. Later a new obstacle to citizenship was introduced in the shape of English language and life in the UK tests, which applicants had to pass before applying for citizenship.

Citizenship ceremonies were also introduced so that new citizens felt that becoming a UK citizen was a significant landmark and not just an administrative procedure.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill

The proposed changes to the way in which foreign nationals may become British citizens are encompassed in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill. Once approved by parliament this would form the basis of a new Act and will both consolidate and add to the current immigration rules.

Earning Citizenship

The government believes that, for too long, becoming a British citizen has been viewed as an entitlement based on a period of continuous residence in the UK. The new law emphasises that citizenship should be viewed as something to be earned. Applicants should have to prove that they have become immersed into British life, and that they make a contribution to life in the UK, before they are able to become citizens.

Whereas previously a period of continuous residence led almost inevitably to an entitlement to apply for citizenship, it is now felt that satisfying the five-year residence requirement should simply be the beginning of the path to citizenship. However, the new rules are not just a way of reducing the numbers of new UK citizens. In fact, one of the intentions of the legislation is to encourage long term residents to apply for citizenship once they have satisfied all the requirements and to feel proud about becoming British citizens.

Three Steps to UK Citizenship

Under the traditional immigration rules the path to UK citizenship usually started with being granted temporary leave to remain, followed by indefinite leave to remain after a continuous period of residence. Once the necessary residence, and other, requirements had been fulfilled an application could then be made for citizenship.

The new rules consist of the following steps on the road to citizenship:

  • Temporary residence – the initial stage for all new immigrants, which lasts five years;
  • Probationary citizenship – how long this lasts will depend on the applicant’s behaviour and activities;
  • Full citizenship or permanent residence.
Those who do not apply for citizenship or who fail to satisfy the test for probationary or full citizenship may ultimately lose their entitlement to remain in the UK.

Probationary Citizenship – What it Involves

Under the new rules all applicants for UK citizenship will have to spend at least 12 months as probationary citizens before they may be awarded full citizenship. Under the proposed legislation probationary citizens would not be entitled to claim any government benefits during that time.

Applicants will have to prove that they have become fully integrated into British society and may be able to reduce the length of their probationary citizenship if they carry out voluntary work or otherwise contribute to the community. Probationary citizens are likely to have to provide references in support of their application for full citizenship. Applicants for citizenship will also have to prove, not only that they have acquired some English language skills, but that they are improving on the skills already acquired.

How Long Will Probationary Citizenship Last?

Whilst it will last for at least 12 months, the length of the probationary citizenship will, to some extent, depend on each individual applicant.

Applicants can speed up, or slow down, the process depending on their behaviour. For example, an applicant who can show that he carries out useful voluntary work in his community or who runs a business that contributes to the economy may find that he progresses to full citizenship relatively quickly. Conversely, an applicant who is convicted of a minor crime will take longer to become a full citizen. Committing a serious crime will lead to ineligibility for citizenship and, under the new law, may be more likely to lead to deportation.

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Why are Gambians given citizenship when they falsely claim Citizenship under the "Domestic violence " when no contact is made by Immigration to confirm any of this or for any concrete proof. Just words by a good Immigration Solicitor?? I am actually the one who has the order against my Gambian husband yet he gets British Citizenship? ???? Not suprising they all want to come here. No fees for NHS,Exam fee,solicitor fee and free Citizenship.
Kass - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:03 PM
@erry - no one considers you a lesser person - but every country has an immigration policy, so don't take it personally, it's not about you or what you have achieved, it's about a mandatory law.
Buddy. - 14-Dec-16 @ 2:44 PM
@Nat @erry - I was looking for this on gov.uk. I can't find anything. Looks like the consultation is closed and it hasn't been passed. Also, the Home Office make it as difficult as they can as they don't want people to come into the country, that is the policy. Fabio.
FHI86 - 12-Dec-16 @ 12:44 PM
Is the 2009 Bill to be changed and if so, could you provide a link on the government's website please.Thank you.
Nat - 11-Dec-16 @ 1:45 PM
I feel insulted. I've lived in this country for only 4 years so far, but I came as a student, got a first class degree from an English university and now work full-time in a skilled job. My English skills are as good as a native's (apart from my accent) and I work hard and pay a lot of money in taxes. Yet, first I learnt that my four years as a student don't count towards citizenship as I didn't have health insurance (nobody told me about this when I came here!) and now I see this stuff. We are considered lesser citizens and have to prove that we go above and beyond anybody else. I work hard and pay taxes and yeah I volunteer when I get the time... But I feel that they keep moving the goalposts for me. And what does it mean that I have to keep showing an improvement in my English skills? I have a degree from a British university and a "certificate of proficiency". Where else is there to go from here??? I am just so exhausted with all of this. This is just a joke. I'm tired of the government assuming I'm some lowlife who contributes nothing, frankly.
erry - 11-Dec-16 @ 1:16 PM
I was born in RSA, both parents were British and when I was born I was registered with the British Consulate and as such my birth certificate is British. Can I apply for my passport and what other documents would I need? Also, I have an expired RSA passport how will this count against me?
Michelle - 15-Nov-16 @ 6:22 AM
debs - Your Question:
Hi there, I am British, have lived in reece for over twenty years, my daughter was born in Greece and holds a Greek passport, I would like to register her as a British national and apply for a British passport for her, is this possible? If so, which paperwork do I need to complete, thank you.

Our Response:
You may be able to apply for your child (under 18 years of age) to be registered as a British citizen, for example if you’re a British citizen but your child was born outside the UK, please see gov.uk link here.
AboutImmigration - 2-Nov-16 @ 11:39 AM
Hi there, I am British, have lived in reece for over twenty years, my daughter was born in Greece and holds a Greek passport, I would like to register her as a British national and apply for a British passport for her, is this possible? If so, which paperwork do I need to complete, thank you...
debs - 1-Nov-16 @ 3:31 PM
My son was born in the UK, we emigrated to South Africa when he was 14months old. He now has a son who is south African. Is my grandson entitled to British citizenship?
Dandelion - 25-Oct-16 @ 9:38 AM
Hi , I am female,born in the UK in 1958. I left to marry an Australian in 1990. My daughter was born in Australia in 1994. We have relatives in the UK and my younger daughter was born there in 1996 so we lived there for three years during this time. Since 1999 we have lived back in Australia. I became an Australian citizen a while ago. My eldest daughter wants to go back to live and hopefully work in the UK as she is an animation student and loves the UK. She can stay with relatives and is able to support herself. She could be sponsored by her grandmother too. Is she able to apply for a visa to work? Is she eligible to be a British citizen by descent? Where can she go for advice and help before applying? Many thanks Barb
Barb - 19-Mar-16 @ 12:21 PM
@Expat - A person is only allowed to apply for British citizenship or UK passports one generation from the British citizen.
Izzy - 26-Jan-16 @ 10:22 AM
I am a UK citizen but have lived abroad for most of my adult life. I have children born abroad and they hold UK passports ( dual nationality). My son wants to travel to the UK next year and take his children to visit all our relatives over there and do some sight seeing in Europe for about 6 mths, however his children do not have UK passports. Are my grandchildren entitled to apply for a UK /European passport?
Expat - 25-Jan-16 @ 5:09 AM
Thank you so much for replying, I am. British Citizen otherwise than by descent and my husband is giving full authority for us to go, he agrees completely that our safety comes first. He is working hard to try and fix the problems and if he does he will bring us back, but it is a phenomenal amount of money that will take some years to clear and a lot of things can happen in that time. My main concerns are A can we simply apply for a British passport with her British Birth cert? B can she go to school in the UK without issues if we have to take her in on her Malaysian passport? & C If I do have to use her Malaysian passport, can we get an extended visa before leaving for 5 years in the UK? There is a lot of reference to situations being assessed at the discretion of the UK government, but how do I contact them for such an assessment?Everyone I have contacted simply gives a link, the link takes me in circles until I'm confused & end up back where I started. THANK YOU. A thousand times for replying, I feel so so grateful to you for a human response, you have no idea how terrified we are and how quickly we need to organise this.
Em J - 27-Nov-15 @ 3:46 AM
Em J - Your Question:
I am facing a real dilemma. 13 years ago I married a Malaysian and we had a daughter in 2004. when she was born I got her a British Birth Certificate from the British Embassy here. Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship. I have scoured all the appropriate websites but can't work out exactly what to do as they are quite vague. My husband has got into enormous debt, with a loan shark and I fear for our safety! I want to bring my daughter to the UK and attend school with her cousins there for at least 5 years, but I am broke. I need to find work, but at 45 and having not worked for 14 years (the Malaysian government does not allow me to), that is going to be a struggle! If I bring her to the UK (HOPEFULLY BEFORE christmas) on her Malaysian passport I know I can't afford the extension application in 6 months. What can I do to get us to safety? Will she be allowed to school there? I won't be be to get any financial aide for her I know.we will be poverty stricken.but staying puts our lives in danger.please please help.PLEASE

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear of your situation. First of all it is difficult to answer your question without knowing whether you are a British citizen or not. However, I'm assuming you are. Therefore, if you're a British citizen you have an automatic right to reside in the UK, as well as in Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. With regards to benefits please see CAB link here. My main concern is whether if you bring your child to the UK without the father's consent could be classified as abduction. The Hague convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction 1980 stipulates that one parent cannot take a child from its country of “habitual residence” without the consent of the other and it would need to be settled in that country's family court. You would need to do some research on order to see whether this applies to you. You may also be able to get advice from the British Embassy regarding your situation. I hope this helps and I hope you manage to resolve your dilemma.
AboutImmigration - 26-Nov-15 @ 12:47 PM
I am facing a real dilemma. 13 years ago I married a Malaysian and we had a daughter in 2004. when she was born I got her a British Birth Certificate from the British Embassy here. Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship.I have scoured all the appropriate websites but can't work out exactly what to do as they are quite vague. My husband has got into enormous debt, with a loan shark and I fear for our safety! I want to bring my daughter to the UK and attend school with her cousins there for at least 5 years, but I am broke. I need to find work, but at 45 and having not worked for 14 years (the Malaysian government does not allow me to), that is going to be a struggle! If I bring her to the UK (HOPEFULLY BEFORE christmas) on her Malaysian passport I know I can't afford the extension application in 6 months. What can I do to get us to safety? Will she be allowed to school there? I won't be be to get any financial aide for her I know....we will be poverty stricken....but staying puts our lives in danger.....please please help....PLEASE
Em J - 26-Nov-15 @ 3:26 AM
HI I married with the uk citizen in Pakistan but later we had divorced because after marriage I came to know that he is already 6 kids who are living in uk.now I have one daughter from him she is of 6 month can I registered my child as a British national kindly guide me because am not getting the accurate answer on any website which is related to my case.which proceure should I sdopt for his daughter. His father has no contact with us.
asma - 2-Oct-15 @ 9:01 PM
Hi My name is Nick I am an australian citizen born to australian parents however my mother was born in the uk in 1962 and her birth was registered there. she has never spent any time in the uk other than about the 6 weeks she was there as a baby. so im wondering if my mother is a uk citizen because she was born there? also im wondering if i would be entitled to uk citizenship through her? my parents were married before i was born, and my mother has never applied for uk citizenship or been naturalised there (unless this happened automatically by being born there) thanks Nick
Nick - 24-Aug-15 @ 11:31 PM
hi just a little enquiry.. my family are coming to the uk on holiday in september for the rugby world cup ,, my god daughter has 2 children 1 aged 4 and 1 aged 1 ,, they live in south africa both parents hold british passports ,, the 4 year old holds a british passport , as does my cousin and her husband ,, and their parents ,, the little one holds a south african passport and is in process of getting a british passport ,, what i would like to know is ,, does the little 1 year old need a visa ???? thank you H Cairns
heather - 28-Jul-15 @ 7:44 PM
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