Ladies and gentlemen, on Saturday I became a British citizen. I must admit it was a long road, mainly paved with paperwork. But at last, I can have the same passport as the kiddos.
I thought I would go into a little bit of detail on the process of becoming a citizen so as to be of help to you ladies who may be going through the process.
(1) If you have indefinite leave to remain, you’ve done most of the work. If you’ve received indefinite leave, then you’ve done the majority of the work. The application is much more lengthy than the citizenship application. Words of advice: Always make copies of all of your applications. The indefinite leave application is very similar to the citizenship application. For example, you’ll have to list every time you’ve been out of the country in the last five years. If you have that as a copy, you’re golden. If you’re having trouble trying to figure out all the paperwork and red tape, don’t worry. There are plenty of good immigration law firms such as Swift Immigration and others that can help you sort it all out. Once you have your documents sorted, it’s time to get them checked.
(2) Make the appointment to have your citizenship application checked. After you’ve completed your application for citizenship, you can have it reviewed by a member at your local town hall. I met with the sweetest lady at Chelsea Old Town Hall, and she made sure my application was perfect. ALSO, you won’t have to send away your US Passport or documents because the application-checker person can make certified copies. (If you’re a member of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, you can find out more, here.)
(3) Have £ £ £ £ in the bank. A few weeks after your submit your application you’ll be billed. During my application it meant I needed to have a spare £1,100 in the bank. If you don’t have the funds your application will be rejected. More about the fees, here.
(4) Wait for your biometics paperwork. A few weeks after you’ve been charged you will receive a paper for your biometrics. You only have a two week window here to complete this so it’s really important that between the time that you are billed and this letter comes, you aren’t out of town. If you don’t submit your biometrics in the timeframe, you’ll have to start the process again. The good news…. If you’ve been to Croydon to have your biometrics done for your visa, you won’t have to go again. There are multiple post offices all over London when you have have your photograph, fingerprints, and signature taken. If all of these become too tiresome or confusing, you could get help from a UK immigration lawyer who might be able to help you go through the entire process.
(5) Hurry up and wait. After you submit your biometics you have to wait for another piece of paper. This is the longest waiting time. Mine took about 6 weeks, but I’ve heard others have had to wait for months.
(6) Citizneship Ceremony. This final piece of paper will ask you to schedule a citizenship ceremony at your local town hall. You can either do a public ceremony or private. A pubic ceremony will be with other people completing their ceremony and you have more restrictions on date/time and number of people you are allowed to invite. If you want to have a private ceremony then you pay £190 and can invite whomever you want. It also then lasts about 15 minutes instead of an hour. I invited my Husband and two girlfriends. The ceremony consists of repeating the following oath,
I (xxxx) swear by Almighty God that on becoming a British Citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law.
and this pledge of Commitment:
I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British Citizen.
Afterwards you face the photo of the Queen (I am not kidding), and they play the national anthem on a boom box. You are supposed to use this time to reflect on all the wonders of becoming British. It sounds silly, but it was actually rather inspiring and even a little bit emotional. However, there did seem to be a lack of things such as telescopic flagpoles and flags in the town hall. This may be different in other town halls however for my ceremony the photo of the queen was the only thing I seemed to pledge allegiance to. British citizenship ceremonies I imagine are very different compared to American ones and it felt nice to experience this version of patriotism UK styled. More about citizenship ceremonies, here.
(7) Party time. At the end of the ceremony you receive your British Nationalization Papers, and it’s time to have a gin and tonic (or in my case an espresso martini at The Ivy Chelsea Garden).
(8) Next step: passport application. Its. Still. Not. Over. After you receive your citizenship, you still need to apply for your passport. You can go to a company like British Connections to make the process easier but the paperwork still continues…
More information on becoming a British citizen, here: https://www.gov.uk/becoming-a-british-citizen/check-if-you-can-apply