Update: 19 Aug 2018

Things have changed since I obtained my British citizenship and passport. Now, EU nationals must provide evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance:

9.11 For any period in which you were, or your sponsor was, a student or self-sufficient person, indicate below how you/they met the requirement to hold comprehensive sickness insurance cover (the insurance must also cover family members in the UK).

CSI has become a mandatory requirement which you won’t be able to meet unless you can turn back time and pay for such insurance.

Also, it’s unclear what comprehensive sickness insurance really entails. Not to mention that since the NHS is free, foreign nationals living in the UK aren’t obligated to purchase health cover.

What’s the solution? Traditionally, you would get a document certifying permanent residence, then apply for British citizenship and passport. Take a different route if you don’t have CSI. Apply for Settled Status first.

Original Post: 27 Sep 2017

I’m a Bulgarian national who has applied for British citizenship and passport via naturalization. I attended a citizenship ceremony on 01/02/2018 at Leeds Town Hall. I’d like to share my journey to obtaining British citizenship, including the mistakes I’ve made and the valuable advice I was given by the Nationality Checking Service in Leeds.

My life in the UK during the 6-year qualifying period.

I came to Leeds in September 2011 to study at university and graduated in 2014. I did my first job in the UK from 2013 to July 2015, and a second job from March 2015 till now, September 2017. I’ve lived on 4 UK addresses and I’ve met the residency requirement.

Best source of information on how to apply for British passport.

I began reading on how to apply for a GB passport 5 years after I first arrived in the UK. I used a computer with internet access to visit Britain’s official website for government services and information, the most legitimate of sources: www.gov.uk

I checked if I was eligible for passport and came across the following documents:

(1) Application for naturalisation as a British citizen: form AN
This is the most current application form at the time of writing (version Feb 2017).

(2) Naturalisation as a British citizen – a guide for applicants: guide AN
This is a guide on how to fill in the application form.

(3) Naturalisation booklet – the requirements: booklet AN
This document explains the requirements you need to meet before you apply for British citizenship and passport.

These three documents contain all of the information you need to know in order to be successful with your application, including which supporting documents to provide.

Personally, I was unsure if had filled in the form correctly so I decide to have my application checked by an authorized local service called Nationality checking service at the cost of £100. Your local NCS will provide the following services:

  • check that your application form has been filled in correctly
  • copy and certify your original documents
  • send it for you to the Home Office by secure mail

The supporting document I was required.

It was an absolute struggle to get an appointment with my local nationality checking service. I kept calling them at various times of the day with no success. It wasn’t until I emailed them when I got a call back on the following day. They asked me if I had obtained a residence permit which I had not. I didn’t think I needed one because my birth country was part of the European Union. I was told I not only needed a permanent residence card but I also must have had it for at least 1 year.

I applied for a residence permit and it arrived two months later. I waited a few months until I had spent a total of six years since I first entered the UK and contacted my local NCS again to arrange an appointment.

The weaknesses of my application.

My application was reviewed by a very stern British woman who identified several documents I had to provide before submitting the application.

(1) I didn’t bring my passport application in addition to my citizenship application. I genuinely thought I would be given a blank passport application form to fill in on the day of my appointment with the NCS. I was told I should have collected a passport application form from the post office.

(2) I was told I had to provide a letter from my university (Confirmation of Attendance) confirming I was a full-time student from 2011 to 2014. I presented my original Bachelor of Arts degree certificate but my advisor thought it didn’t prove I had lived in the UK while at university.

(3) I had missing payslips for 2015, the year in which I changed jobs. I had to provide either payslips or a P60 to prove I was physically present in the UK during that year. I had brought a P45 and a P60 for 2015-2016 but it somehow wasn’t enough evidence.

(4) The referee declarations had expired. Since I began working on my citizenship application a year before I got the appointment with the NCS, my two referee declarations had got more than 6 months out of date on the day I wanted to submit it. The advisor explained I had to get the referree pages resigned and redated.

My strongest evidence of living in the UK for the last 6 years.

The adviser looked at my supporting documents and classed the following as insufficient proof of my residence in the UK for the last 6 years:

  • Tenancy agreements
  • Council tax, electricity, gas and water bills
  • Letters from the Student Loans Company
  • International payments to my UK bank account

The adviser considered the following documents as sufficient evidence of my residence in the UK for the last 6 years:

  • PAYE forms: P45, P60
  • Payslips
  • Bank statements

What’s next for my citizenship application?

I had a second appointment with the NCS on 16th October 2017. This time, my adviser was very satisfied with all my supporting evidence and I was at last able to successfully submit my application for British citizenship and UK passport.

On the 10th January 2018, I received a letter dated 20/12/2017 notifying me that my citizenship application has been approved, and inviting me to book a citizenship ceremony within 21 days. I immediately called the Nationality Checking Service and my call was promptly answered. The soonest available date I could attend a group ceremony was 01/02/2018.

My advice to EU nationals applying for British citizenship and nationalization.

  • Do not throw away any letters that arrive in the post for you, apart from marketing mail.
  • Do not delete emails with important documents attached to them.
  • Keep and preserve all of your payslips and P60 forms in a folder.
  • Do not destroy bank statements. I regret recycling a big pile of paper bank statements from 2011.
  • Do not worry about your annual income. My advisor told me the success of my application didn’t depend on the amount of money I make.

Your feedback, please.

I hope this article has been useful. Feel free to leave a comment about your experience applying for British citizenship and do not hesitate to ask me any questions.