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Experience post: Applying for British Citizenship 
20th-Oct-2011 11:47 am [citizenship]
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This month, I applied for British citizenship. Here's my timeline:

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.

So...


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.
Comments 
20th-Oct-2011 11:48 am (UTC)
No questions, but congrats on a major milestone! I used NCS too when I applied and ended up using the council in Market Harborough even though I live in Worcestershire. Birmingham had a 3 month wait when I called! I'm glad I pick Market Harborough though, it was clean, tidy, and the lady dealing with it was very nice and helpful.

Even though I applied for citizenship from Mkt Harborough, I did my ceremony in Worcester, so it may be more likely that it'll happen where you live.
22nd-Oct-2011 11:24 am (UTC)
A three month wait for Birmingham! At least you were able to call. I tried hard to go to Worcester (didn't think they'd have a wait) but they kept sending me to other departments and saying they'd call me back or call back later and no one would help.

I'd love to go to Market Harborough, it always looks so nice and clean on TV. Worcester's OK to me (the town itself) although it seems to be more and more infested with chavs every time I go.
20th-Oct-2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
This is interesting as a Brit to read. Seems quite simple, I'm led to believe that becoming an American citizen can be quite difficult?
20th-Oct-2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
You are correct. As an American I've been extremely averse to putting my poor British husband through the whole rigamarole. Therefore we live in the UK where spousal immigration is a sane process. Plus I like it here!
20th-Oct-2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
My mom's a naturalized US citizen and the path was very easy. She'd been in the US since 1979 (she's from Mexico) as a permanent resident card holder. Then in 1996 she decided she wanted to be a US citizen and had the paperwork filed and had to study for the test. She took the test in fall 1997 (we moved from Texas to New Mexico so she had to learn the names of NM's congress reps / senate) and was interviewed at the time and by the end of the interview was told she passed then a date was given for the ceremony. It was pretty easy to do back in 1997 and my dad's co-worker's wife (who is British) just went through it this past July and said it was a pretty easy process as long as you meet the residency requirements.
22nd-Oct-2011 11:24 am (UTC)
I've heard it costs lots of money to become an American citizen but I don't know much about the process.

Thanks for reading though. :)
25th-Oct-2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
It wasn't that hard. Just a lot of waiting and it was expensive.
20th-Oct-2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
We did the NCS in Newcastle and hubby had the citizenship ceremony in South Tyneside
22nd-Oct-2011 11:25 am (UTC)
Those aren't too far away from each other, are they?

Oh well I don't mind doing the ceremony in Staffordshire or (where I live), as long as I can do it. In fact, Lichfield is cleaner and less crowded.
20th-Oct-2011 11:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this - I had no idea this existed!
22nd-Oct-2011 11:19 am (UTC)
You're welcome :)
21st-Oct-2011 01:02 am (UTC)
For what it's worth, I used the Warwick NCS when I lived in Oxfordshire (they grumbled about taking me, but they hadn't officially closed it off yet for people outside Warwick I guess) and my ceremony was in Oxford.
22nd-Oct-2011 11:19 am (UTC)
Excellent. I wanted to use them, I didn't think that they'd have much of a waiting list but the online thing said Coventry and Warwick residents only!
21st-Oct-2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
The process seems pretty similar to when I went through it in early 2009, though I know the fees have increased. I did the NCS and had my citizenship ceremony here in Liverpool.
22nd-Oct-2011 11:20 am (UTC)
Yeah, the citizenship fees increase twice a year I think, but I'm not sure about the NCS fees.
21st-Oct-2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on your achievement. As a Brit who has done the route the other way (from the UK to the US to be with my husband) I can only feel envy in how simple this process is to get into the UK compared with getting into the US from the UK.
My husband and I were forced to live apart after we were married for a total of 18 months while my visa was processed. I'd rather still be in the UK to be honest, but as I became disabled and had to resort to government benefits to survive, before I met my husband, I did not fulfil the criteria for us both to be able to live in the UK, because I could not support him here.
22nd-Oct-2011 11:05 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting! Fingers crossed for your application. I'm eligible but don't have the crazy £800 they want to steal from me...
22nd-Oct-2011 11:21 am (UTC)
You are welcome!

My father was in an accident at work and got some money so my parents sent me £600 so I was able to make it. Otherwise, I would have had the money either!
23rd-Oct-2011 11:02 am (UTC)
So finally there's a way to get a UK passport without giving up the US one for months?
Fantastic - I will thwap my mother with the paperwork!
She's lived here since 1970 but never got a UK passport for that reason, to the extent that Heathrow immigration staff tell her 'God, you again woman, fill in this bloody form already will you?' regularly...

24th-Oct-2011 10:27 am (UTC)
Give her this link: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/applying/checkingservice/

and this is a list of where the checking service is available (which councils): http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/applying/checkingservice/checkingservicelocations/ncs_england/

(That's assuming your family live in England!)

Tell her not to be afraid to go to other councils for the service as long as they'll take her.
24th-Oct-2011 11:38 am (UTC)
Indeed - Surrey doesn't have any but it looks like any London borough will do, and she's in London at least weekly.
Though I predict her arguing that she's got to 70 without becoming a Brit so why bother paying... might have to remind her about those red-eye queues at Heathrow T3!
7th-Jan-2012 04:23 am (UTC)
hi i WANT TO GET SOME THINGS CLARIFIED. I AM A US CITIZEN I RECENTLY MARRIED MY HUSBAND A UK CITIZEN AND NOW I NEED TO FILE A SPOUSE VISA BUT ALL I SEE IS DOING IT ONLINE. IS THERE A ACTUAL OFFICE WE CAN GO IN AND SUBMIT THE FORMS. ALSO WAS YOUR HUSBAND PRESENT AS MINE IS BACK IN UK DO I NEED HIS PASSPORT OR A LETTER STATING I AM FILING; AS I HAVE SO MANY SITES GIVING SO MUCH INFO I AM NOT SURE WHAT IS CORRECT. I WOULD LOVE ANY HELP YOU CAN OFFER. WHAT STATE DID YOU FILE FOR YOUR SPOUSAL VISA OR DID YOU DO IT ONLINE. THANKS A MILLION. C
7th-Jan-2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
I got married in the US and I did it online, but back in 2007 (practically a hundred years ago in terms of money and visas) you could go to a consulate and apply in person. The consulates were in Chicago, New York, and a few other places.

I used these links when doing research but you have to remember this was in 2007!

http://talk.uk-yankee.com/index.php?topic=29814.0
http://www.ljnelson.com/personal/musings/ustouk.htm#bankaccounts (take off bank accounts or scroll up)
http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/
http://yankandbritlove.livejournal.com/153822.html#cutid1 ---> a story about someone who went to the British consulate

Looking in the archives of this community might help too.

My actual process:
1. Got married in county office (September 4th)
2. Sent off info the next day (September 5th) to consulate. We filled out some sort of online form and sent it through the mail. It was a HUGE amount of money so my bank called immediately asking if I did this. My husband was only in the US for two weeks so I had to have a certified copy of his passport made. This was not a problem because I was a dog walker for an immigration lawyer! I don't remember where I sent this off to unfortunately at all. It was some address they gave me on the online form.
3. Consulate e-mails me to tell me I was approved and they are sending the info back.
4. Passport arrives.

This all took about... hmm... less than 10 days? But you have to remember this was back in 2007!

The British consulates were located in places like Chicago/New York/LA and I lived in North Carolina. It wasn't worth it for us to spend an extra $600 + hotel just to fly out and do it in person.
14th-Jan-2013 10:26 am (UTC)
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