British citizenship applications:
What to do in case of excessive absences

Are you on your path to become a British citizen? We understand that the naturalisation process can be complex, especially when it comes to meeting the absence requirement. Do not worry, we are here to guide you!

When applying for naturalisation, it's crucial to demonstrate that your absences from the UK fall within the specified limits. Depending on the route you choose, you need to keep the maximum limits in mind.

In order to submit the application for naturalisation, you must meet the absence requirement.

You should demonstrate that you have not been absent for more than

5-Year Route: If you opt for the 5-year route under Section 6(1) of The British Nationality Act 1981, you must ensure that your total absences within five years do not exceed 450 days. Additionally, in the 12 months leading up to your application, you should not be absent for more than 90 days. The good news is that usually, the Home Office disregards absences up to 480 days for this application.

3-Year Route: Alternatively, if you decide to take the 3-year route under Section 6(2) of The British Nationality Act 1981, your total absences within five years should not exceed 270 days. Similarly, in the final 12 months prior to your application, you must not be absent for more than 90 days. Typically, absences up to 300 days are disregarded for this application.

But what happens if your absences exceed these limits? The Home Office understands that exceptional circumstances can arise, and they exercise discretion in certain cases. If your absences range from 480 to 900 days (for Section 6(1)) or 300 to 540 days (for Section 6(2)), and you meet all other requirements for naturalisation, the Home Office will consider using discretion if one or more of the following conditions apply:

  • Crown Service or Specific Roles: If your excessive absences are a result of being assigned to work overseas by the UK government in a capacity related to Crown service or in a role specified under Section 2(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981, the Home Office will take that into account.

  • Accompanying a British Citizen Spouse or Civil Partner: If your absences were caused by accompanying your spouse or civil partner, who is a British citizen, on a foreign assignment, the Home Office understands the importance of family ties and will consider your situation.

  • Professionally Required Absences: Certain professions, such as working as a merchant seaman or being employed by a multinational company headquartered in the UK, may necessitate frequent international travel. If your profession falls under this category, the Home Office acknowledges the nature of your work and will take it into consideration.

  • Highly Compelling Reasons: If you can demonstrate highly compelling reasons related to your occupation or of a compassionate nature, the Home Office may exercise discretion for your immediate naturalisation. For example, a firm job offer where British citizenship is a requirement or a situation that warrants compassionate consideration.

  • Overturned Removal Decision or Inability to Return: If you were previously removed from the country but the decision was later overturned, or if circumstances prevented you from resuming permanent residence in the UK after being away, the Home Office will take these factors into account.

  • Global Pandemic Restrictions: If your additional absences were a result of your inability to return to the UK due to the global pandemic, the Home Office understands the unprecedented circumstances and will consider your situation.

If your absence exceeds the limits mentioned earlier due to Crown Service overseas, the Home Office generally exercises discretion in the following cases:

  • You were a resident in the UK and Islands before being posted overseas.
  • Your absence was caused by being away from the UK and Islands during a posting related to Crown Service or accompanying a spouse, civil partner, partner, or parent on a posting on Crown Service.

In this case, individuals serving in Crown Service are required to present evidence of their employment and posting from the relevant Government department.

It's important to note that not only the overall number of absences but also the absences in the 12 months prior to applying are considered. During the final year of the qualifying period, you should not be absent for more than 90 days. However, discretion can be exercised if your naturalisation application demonstrates that your future intentions align with the requirements or if you are applying under the 3-year route.

Absences in the final 12 months are categorized as follows:

  • Discretion may be used if you were absent from the UK for 100 days or less.

  • If you were away from the UK for more than 100 days but not exceeding 180 days, the absences may be disregarded only if all other requirements are met, and you have demonstrated a strong connection with the UK through the presence of family, an established home, and a substantial part of your estate.

  • If you were absent for more than 100 days but not exceeding 180 days and have not met all the residence requirements over the full qualifying period, discretion may be exercised under certain conditions. You need to demonstrate that you made the UK your home by establishing a home, employment, family, property, and finances in the UK. Additionally, you must show that the absence is justified by Crown Service or compelling reasons related to occupation or compassion, including travel restrictions due to the global pandemic.

  • If your absence exceeds 180 days and you do not meet the residence requirement for the full qualifying period, discretion will be used only if you can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, such as Crown Service, and have shown a strong connection to the UK.

At Emigral, we specialize in providing professional services tailored to your immigration needs. We understand the complexities and challenges of the British citizenship process, and our dedicated team is here to assist you throughout your journey. With our expertise and knowledge, we can help you navigate through the intricate rules and regulations, ensuring that your application is well-prepared and showcases your eligibility for British citizenship.

Don't let the complexities of the British citizenship process deter you from pursuing your dreams. Contact Emigral today and let our professional services empower you to achieve your goal of obtaining British citizenship. Together, we can turn your dreams into reality.