One of the key aspects in an application for British Citizenship by naturalisation is the amount of time the applicant has spent in the United Kingdom. The Home Office will expect applicants to have made the UK their home and spent the majority of their time in the UK in the five years before they make the application. Under certain circumstances, large absences from the UK can be allowed in an application. This article looks at the absence requirements in a citizenship by naturalisation application, and when the Home Office will consider allowing large absences from the UK.
What are the absence requirements?
When making an application for citizenship by naturalisation here are specific requirements about how long a person may be absent from the United Kingdom. These are:
The absence requirements are different if the applicant is married to a British citizen. These are:
The application requires that an applicant provides full details of their absences from the UK in the five or three year period.
Days of departure and arrival do not count as days of absence from the UK. For example, if the applicant left the UK on Friday and returned on the following Monday, only the Saturday and Sunday will be counted as absence from the UK. The whole trip will be counted as 2 days absence.
The Home Office will check the schedule submitted by the applicant against their passport stamps and their own internal records.
Applicants who are unsure about their absences from the UK may make a Freedom of Information request from the Home Office to check their own internal records.
The Home Office is allowed to exercise discretion to allow absences which have exceeded the requirements. Discretion exists to allow absences up to 900 days in the five year period or 540 days in the three year period (for applicants who are married to British citizens).
If applicants have exceeded the absence requirements, they will be expected to show that they have strong connections to the UK, in particular that they have established their home, employment, family and finances in the UK. Additionally, they will require information about why the absence occurred. For example, if it was the unavoidable nature of a UK career, or if the absence occurred for compassionate reasons.
The Home Office have a discretion to allow absences from the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, when travel was severely restricted.
If the excess absences of up to 180 days occurred in the final year before a naturalisation application, the Home Office will look at whether there is evidence to show that applicant has the intention to live in the UK in the future. This is is known as the “future intentions” requirement. The Home Office principally want to see that an applicant does not intend to break their links with the UK. They regard the applicants past behaviour as the clearest indicator of their future intentions. They will need to be satisfied than the applicant has an established residence, family and a substantial proportion of any estate here.
If you think that your absences from the UK may reach the thresholds please feel free to get in touch!.