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Guide: Time Restrictions & Naturalisation Applications

 An Extensive Guide

The purpose of this guide is to detail the no-time restrictions requirement in the year prior to application for naturalisation as a British Citizen.

This requirement induces that when you apply for naturalisation as a British citizen, you must have been free of any kind of time restrictions in the year prior to your application date.

Time restrictions include various kinds of time limited authorisations to stay in the UK, such as limited leave to enter or limited leave to remain.

It is important to note that this absence of time restrictions is a requirement which does not suffer any exception, but in some specific cases, some time restrictions can be disregarded by administration, please see below concerning this UKBA discretion to disregard.

This ‘no-time restriction’ requirement does not mean neither that you must have been granted an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or to Enter (ILE). For instance, you can meet this requirement even if you are not in the UK, if you have not been granted limited leave, if you have entered the UK illegally, or if you are an EEA or Swiss National.

Nonetheless, you will not be considered as being free of immigration time restrictions if you have overstayed a limited leave to enter or remain, if you are on a temporary admission, in immigration detention, or if you have fled from temporary admission or detention.

Please, note that a person who is outside the United Kingdom will necessarily be free from any time restriction. However, it would be contrary to the spirit of the statutes to allow an application to succeed where the sole or main purpose of applying from abroad was to circumvent the requirement about freedom from immigration time restrictions. In such a case, your naturalisation application will not be successful.

As told previously, the UKBA might use discretion to disregard immigration time restrictions in the final 12 months. Discretion may normally be exercised if:

a-At the date of application, you have had less than 12 months free of restrictions, but have been free of restrictions for more than 12 months by the time your application is considered by the UKBA,

b-A time limit was imposed to you inappropriately on return to the UK after a visit abroad, and you subsequently demonstrates eligibility for returning resident status

c-The period of limited leave was less than 10 days at the beginning of the 12 months period before your application date,

d-The period of limited leave was between 10 and 90 days at the beginning of the 12 month period, if other statutory requirements, including the other residence requirements, are met and you have demonstrated established links through the presence in the UK of your home, family and a substantial part of estate.

e-The period of limited leave was more than 90 days at the beginning of the 12 month period, and the other statutory requirements, including the other residence requirements, are met, only if : you have established links with the UK through presence here of home, family and a substantial part of estate, and you have compelling business or compassionate reasons to justify granting the application now

f-The period of limited leave exceeded 10 days at the beginning of the 12 months period, and the other statutory requirements are not met, only in the most exceptional circumstances

g-Consideration of an application for ILR, made more than 15 months before the citizenship application, had been protracted through no fault of the applicant, providing ILR was eventually granted. This can include applications for asylum which have resulted in the grant of ILR.

h-An application for asylum or leave to remain was refused but later acknowledged to be an incorrect decision and the appropriate leave granted and the applicant could have applied for ILR earlier and met this requirement on the date of consideration.


In all cases, it is important that your representative indicates to UKBA that any special grounds to justify the exercise of discretion in your case. In case of absence of this information, the UKBA will assume that no special circumstances exist and consider your application on the basis of the information available.

Westkin Associates

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

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