Experience post: Applying for British Citizenship
Early September 2007 -- married British citizen in USA, applied for spousal visa the next day
Early-Mid September 2007 -- receive spousal visa something like seven days later
Late-Late September 2007 -- moved to England
Late August 2009 -- Applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain (through the post) by sending off my passport and my husband's passport
Mid December 2009 -- Received ILR
October 2011 -- Applied for British Citizenship
Instead of sending my application off in the mail/post I decided to use the Nationality Checking Service. I decided on using this service because
A. You don't have to send your passport(s) in the mail -- you can keep it (them)!
B. They would check over my application and make sure I didn't do anything wrong or leave anything out
C. They would send off the application for me (and give me a tracking number later)
The Nationality Checking Service is a council service, done by the council or registry office. I live in the West Midlands. The councils that surround me (and that I can get to easily/comfortably) are: Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell & Dudley, Solihull, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, and Warwick. (Wyre Forest doesn't seem to have this service -- Telford & Wrekin do but too hard to get to maybe.)
Birmingham had some sort of weird form (you print it off, send it off in the post and wait) and a 6+ week wait, so that was out. Wolverhampton I couldn't get in contact with. Dudley's webpage was down. Sandwell & Dudley suspended their service until a few weeks later (it's back now). Solihull doesn't do it anymore. Worcestershire kept transferring me to various people and said they'd call back and didn't, and Warwick does only Coventry and Warwick residents due to "high demand."
So Staffordshire it was.
I called Staffordshire and they asked where I live. This was so they could find an office that was close to my house. It was not a problem that I did not live in Staffordshire. They got me an appointment for ten days later at 10AM on a Tuesday. In Lichfield.
On the day of, there was a problem with the trains. I asked an employee how long it would take to get to Lichfield City from Birmingham New Street and he said 20- 25 minutes. This turned out to be untrue. It was more like 45. (Yes I know I should have checked here!) The train was also delayed by 20 minutes. I arrived at Lichfield about 30 minutes later than I expected and had to take a taxi, let out war cries while running, etc. and made it at exactly 10AM.
Lichfield was very clean. The woman at the registry office said they just had a lottery grant, so the local park (Beacon Park) had its statues sandblasted and new flowers were being planted. The guy who built the Titanic had a statue there, apparently he's from Stoke on Trent.
Anyway, a woman who worked for the registry office took me to a room they use for civil weddings and looked over my application, then made copies of my passport and my husband's passport. Then she stamped all the pages. Then it was over.
Time it took me to get an appointment: 10 days
Time it took once I got there 20 minutes
What I had to bring: My passport, my husband's passport, the application (I had to print it out), fee (no cash!), marriage certificate, photograph (passport sized)
Fee: £50, although my local councils charged anything from £40 to £65
Would you recommend using the Nationality Checking Service and why? Yes, because you can keep your passport and someone can check over your application.
Recommendations Call for an appointment early if you live in a busy area. If your local council doesn't do it, don't be afraid to travel further out. As long as the council will take you, it doesn't really matter where it is!
If you apply from another council: I don't live in Staffordshire, but I was told I may have to come there for a citizenship ceremony because that's where I applied from. I don't care -- it won't take me that long to get there but this is something to keep in mind.
If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.