A lot of people want to apply for British naturalisation but, due to COVID-19, they could exceed the number of absences allowed to be eligible.
It is possible to apply for British naturalisation to gain British citizenship if a person has been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain or settled status, provided that this person also meets the other requirements.
One of the requirements which causes the most problem is the limited number of absences from the UK allowed. In fact, the applicant should not have been absent from the UK more than 450 days for the past 5 years and more than 90 days for the past 12 months at the date of the application.
However, in some circumstances, the Home Office will exercise discretion to waive the absences. This is the case, for example, when the applicant exceeds the permitted absences for 30 days or less or if the excess absences were an unavoidable consequence of the nature of the applicant’s career, such as frequent trips abroad in relation to employment with a multinational company based in the UK.
We understand that a lot of applicants have been travelling outside the UK for work or family related reasons, so it is important to know when discretion for their absences should be exercised.
The Home Office, on 1st September 2020, has added that exercising discretion should be considered if the excess absences were due to the applicant being unable to return to the UK because of global pandemic. This covers situations for British naturalisation applications, where the absences are due to COVID-19. This will come as a relief for a lot of applicants as an important number of migrants have been staying outside the UK due to the coronavirus.
However, applicants should keep their absences lower than 900 days outside the UK for the past 5 years for the discretion to apply.
It is important to note that the discretion due to global pandemic has not yet been added for people applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settled status, which are also subject to a limited number of absences from the UK to be eligible.
Hopefully, the Home Office will take a practical and reasonable approach and include the global pandemic as a reason to exercise discretion for ILR and settled status applications as well.
You can access the full guidance on naturalisation as a British citizen by discretion via this link:
If you require any assistance with your British naturalisation application or UK visa applications, please contact our expert team of London immigration lawyers at Barar & Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7487 8370. You can access more information about us via https://bararassociates.com/.