How to become a British citizen | FT

How to become a British citizen | FT


I’m Federica. I’m from Italy. And a couple of
years ago I decided to apply for
British citizenship. In reality, I’d been meaning
to do it for a long time because I just wanted to be
able to vote in the country. I’ve been here for 15 years. And it’s taken me a long
while to save the money and get my act together
to apply for citizenship. But two years ago, I just
thought, it’s now or never. And that’s when I started. The first thing I did was to
obtain permanent residence. I sourced two forms
of evidence to prove that I worked in
the UK, and then two more to prove
that I lived here. And I did this for each year. In total, I provided
five years of evidence. That’s all you need. In truth, I’ve been living
here for many more years. And then within a year
of obtaining this, you can apply for citizenship. As it turns out
I had thrown away loads of stuff that would
have been really useful. So it was a bit of a
quest to put together enough stuff to prove it. But I managed easily. Work contracts, tenancy
agreements, bills, council tax, bank statements, P45s, P60s,
certificates from universities, and then if anything is missing,
you just have to be creative. That’s probably the gourmet
burger in Greenwich. 2011 was a bit of
a gap because I used to live with
my ex-boyfriend and he owned the
flat, paid the bills. And so the residence was
a bit difficult to prove. So I had to go back to
Greenwich, speak to the GP, get a letter from the council
to prove that I had voted. And at one point I remember
thinking that actually my cat was better – had more
evidence – more documents to prove its residence. Because she’d been registered
at the same vet since 2009 and had gone there twice a year. I mean, the council
isn’t too far from here. So I think I can just put it
in a trolley and just carry it. Probably even sent
them too much. In the end, they accepted it. And it took them about one
month to send me everything, including my residence permit. So after being officially
recognised as resident, I decided to apply to become
a British national online. But if the internet
is not your thing, you can also do it by post. Basically, it asks you to
repeat all the information that you’ve provided, where
you’ve worked, where you’ve studied, where
you’re registered, your permanent residence
card number, load the details of your documents,
your parents, whether you’ve had any convictions, whether
you have ever been involved, supported, or encouraged
terrorist activities, or whether you’ve committed
any crimes against humanity – fair enough. But wait, there’s more. You need to find two referees. At least one of them has
to hold a British passport and the other one
has to have what they call professional standing. So they need to have
an official job, like a doctor, or an
accountant, or a civil servant. Then, you must list
all the countries that you’ve visited in
the past five years. How did I find this out? I went on Instagram to
check where I have posted. Citizenship application
through selfies on Instagram. Of course, you can’t
become a UK national unless you’ve passed
the Life in the UK test. I studied from the
book, but I found some of the questions
a bit quirky. The answers can also be a bit
outdated, or even factually incorrect I work with statistics,
so I know that nearly half of the population doesn’t
belong to a religion, not a quarter as
stated in the book. Or that it’s not
true to say that 10 per cent of the population
has at least one grandparent born abroad. At last count, it was
actually 25 per cent, so it’s probably even more now. I obviously know that a
quintessential trait of a Brit is to laugh at themselves
rather than have fish and chips every lunchtime. OK, so it’s been a
couple of months, maybe more than a couple. But I finally plucked
up the courage to pay for my citizenship. And it cost me £1,350
because it includes the cost of the ceremony, even though I
haven’t actually been accepted yet for citizenship. So the next step is to book
an appointment at this UK Visa and Citizenship
Application Services, because recently
they’ve changed it. Previously, you used to be able
to go to your local council and have all your
documents checked. Now, I have to go to
one of these places. So let’s see where they are. So interestingly
and conveniently, there’s a couple of places that
are reasonably close to me. So I could just pop out on
my lunch break, I guess. Unfortunately, the places that
are close to me actually are classed as premium
lounges or VIP services, and therefore cost £260 to book. I’m not prepared to spend
that amount of money now. The alternative is to go to
Croydon, the core service point, and that’s actually free. When you go to the
appointment, it’s a bit like when you’re checking
out a flight on Ryanair and they add all
these extra services. So you can also have your
documents translated, or you can have an
interpreter in case you don’t speak English. Which is a bit odd,
considering that one of the key requirements
for citizenship is to be able to speak English. Now, I have to upload my
documents online and then head to Croydon, which
I don’t often go to. So I finally found the
office where they’re going to check my documents. It’s not immediately
obvious that it’s a government contractors
office, but here I am. It’s definitely this one, as
you can see by the long queue. So it looks like I’ll
be here for a while. I’ve got this niggling
feeling that I’ve forgotten something,
a bit like when you’re going to the airport
and you know you must’ve forgotten something. That’s how I feel right now. But I think I have
everything here in my backpack, possibly
more than I need. But yeah, I’m going
to join the queue now. Since the EU
referendum, the number of applications for British
citizenship from EU nationals has skyrocketed. So my application was accepted. Next up, the
ceremony, where I have to affirm my allegiance
to the country, the Queen, her descendants,
and her corgis – just kidding. So 16 years ago, I moved
to London here in Hackney. And it’s taken me that long
to become a British citizen. That’s mainly my fault.
It’s taken me a long time to get my act together. And although it was a
bureaucratic hassle sometimes, it was really a walk in the park
compared to some other people that were in the room with me
– mostly non-European migrants. I could see that
they were much more emotional about the
process than I was. But now, I’ve got
my certificate. And what I’m going to do next
is apply for a British passport. Hopefully that will take
me less than 16 years. And then finally, I
will cast my first vote.

46 thoughts on “How to become a British citizen | FT

  1. Do you really need to show that you eat Gourmet Burgers in Greenwich?…must be wealthy living in London i suppose it beats Treading Grapes in Calabria

  2. So she can now vote in two countries…in Italy and in Britain; and have two passports. Just imagine, statistically, calculating the world population as everyone with the right to a passport ie the total number of passports issuable equating to the total number of people in the world…
    As for her wanting citizenship nationality merely to gain a right to vote…seems to me a bit shallow if not bordering on the presumptuous and selfish…but then on the other hand it isnโ€™t cheap and s/o really selfish wouldnโ€™t wish to pay so much….unless with other motives…but then some effort has to be made to test the good faith of the applicant, and bent people wouldnโ€™t have the strength of character to be bothered, unless they were really desperate, or sponsored by shady interests elsewhere. But of course these donโ€™t exist do they?

  3. If you do want to be a brutish citizen donโ€™t.
    Itโ€™s not a dream, itโ€™s a nightmare. Wet, cold, no leaves on trees. Catch my drift. High rent prices, traffic light after traffic light.

  4. Why would you want to become a British citizen? We have been told for the last three
    years we are racist, are white supremacists, bigots, hate filled, suffer from trans phobia and Islamaphobia.
    We are also nazis, facists and anti Europe. If I were you I would stay well away!

  5. Proof of residency is not that complicated, you just have to show 5 years of your current account bank statement and that's it.

  6. Britain welcomes people who respect our way of life & our laws.

    If you don't like the idea of Brexit Britain.
    If you don't like British people
    then leave.

  7. Sadly we are a nation of beurocrats and worse, immigration is a deliberately unwelcoming area of government.
    Sad but true

  8. Dear Financial Times, and friends,
    Thank you for posting.
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  9. Why would any UK citizen would want to stay there, the states offers more opportunity! Plus, your country men are all-over the place.

  10. Wealthy upper middle class European immigrant looking to vote against the British people who have welcomed her into their country. Cheers love.

  11. So you had to provide a bit of paperwork – other European countries are just as convoluted, if not more! The journalist does at least have one key requirement for being British…..moaning about bugger all!

  12. I think , now you are not Tired. Something is real Sweet only when achieved by Tiring Long Journey. Congratulations.

  13. Your attempt is too late!!! we leave EU on 31st October, no you won't get more migrants in, voting against us in our own damn country. We are England, we are English, British citerzenship don't hold no ground with us.

  14. Why bothered with being a British citizen where it will be soon run over by Muslims. Britain will then become BRITANISTAN!

  15. How to become a British citizen? Thats easy|! Conver to islam and yell like crazy "allahu akbar", citizenship guaranteed!

  16. You are European you can vote in every elections expect the general election.
    At least that how it work for French People

  17. What a surprise! The FT encouraging non nationals to vote just as we're about to exit the EU and an election looming. No doubt another George Soros funded idea. The pro-eu establishment is really lifting up its skirts up and what a stench underneath.

  18. By the looks of it the person who wrote that "Life In The United Kingdom" exam isn't even British themselves.

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