Social Justice. Equality. Enterprise.

Applying for British Citizenship, Part 2

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Andrea Aldridge, CERC BME worker, is originally from the United States. Although she has been married to a UK citizen and living in England for over thirteen years, she has never exercised her right to become a UK national and hold a passport issued from the UK. She has been sharing with us her journey to citizenship...

"What a warm and positive response I have had from my last article; many thanks to everyone who emailed or called to share their own experiences and to offer me assistance on becoming a UK citizen. It will cost £780.00 to put my application for citizenship through the bureaucratic machine. That is not the only expense, merely the biggest.

I made an appointment to see Kleanth Labo (Tel: 07748615652), who works for the Cumbria County Council Multicultural Service, with outposts in Maryport, Carlisle, Penrith, Windermere and Barrow. I met Kleanth in Penrith at Eden Rural Foyer where he sees people each Thursday from 10am to 4pm. It wasn’t very private, but I didn’t ask for a separate meeting room; I was comfortable enough and we sat for about an hour in Foyer’s cafe.

I have a straightforward case because I am married to a British citizen. I only need to have lived in the UK for 3 years, as opposed to 5 years, in order to be eligible for citizenship. I’ll need to prove that I have lived here as my primary residence for that length of time with no significant gaps, using letters from employers or government departments or payslips.

I have been employed all this time, so I hope I can dig out three years payslips, not every month, but quarterly, as Kleanth has advised. I do indeed need the Adult AN Form, downloadable at:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/nationality/form_an.pdf

and children need the Child MN1 Form:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/nationality/form_mn1.pdf 

Kleanth gave me a copy of the form and went through it with me, which was reassuring. My situation is pretty straightforward, but there is still a fair bit of evidence to collect to complete the form, for example, all of the addresses where I’ve lived in the past five years, two references from professional people who have known me for at least two years, a new passport photo, the details of my mother and father and husband including their dates and places of birth, every absence (for example, every holiday) taken away from the UK in the last five years with dates.

The AN Form includes space to record that I have passed the Citizenship exam, so I need to take this first. From the Home Office UK Border Agency website I found the info I needed to take the citizenship test. The only place I can take it in Cumbria is at English Gate Plaza, Botchergate, Carlisle, Cumbria CA1 1RP; I called Penny Cairns on 01228 574000, penny.cairns@system-training.com who is the only person who can book me in for a place in the exam room. She wasn’t in, but her assistant told me that the tests are held once a fortnight, usually on Mondays 10am and 1pm. It costs £34.73 inclusive of VAT and you can pay by cash only. She also said you get your exam results that day, as soon as everyone in the exam room finishes.

Kleanth gave me a sample exam and I discovered I and anyone else intending to take the exam will need to study hard. If I pass the test I’ll include the test number and my pass certificate on my AN Form, then send it off with my money and other evidence to the Home Office.

The Cumbria County Council Registrar, Portland Square, Carlisle, can provide a checking service for £45, where they check and make copies of your evidence such as, in my case, both my marriage and birth certificate and my husband’s passport; this saves us sending the originals off to London. You can phone up to make an appointment on 01228 226359.

Cumbria County Council will then send a letter congratulating me and inviting me to a mandatory ceremony held somewhere in Cumbria several times a year. I have been told that I can invite 10 guests.

Hooray, I get a certificate and a passport application costing another £78. Kleanth tells me to act fast in case they may put the price up. Kleanth gives me a tip, when applying for your British passport, don’t cut the corner of your present passport because, if you still want to use your current passport, you don’t want it casually invalidated by some civil servant with a scissors.

The Cumbria Multicultural Service website is useful:

http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/communityinformation/communities/mcs/default.asp

Their welcome packs are really well done, thorough and easy to read.

I now need to call Penny Cairns at the test centre and make an appointment. I will need to focus on studying for the test! I will let you know how I get on....”