Settling in Scotland and becoming a British citizen

We know living and working in Scotland is a wonderful, rewarding experience. An exciting career and enjoyable lifestyle may mean you’ll want to make it home permanently or become a British citizen.

British Passport

Settling or Indefinite Leave to Remain

If you wish to settle in Scotland permanently, after a certain period of time you and your family can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This entitles you to live and work permanently in Scotland and the rest of the UK without restriction on how long you can stay. If you are outside of the UK for two years or longer, you can lose your Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Usually you would be eligible to apply for ILR after living in Scotland for five years. However, this can vary depending on the type of visa you entered the UK on. For example, if you have a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Start-up, Innovator or Tier 2 (General), you can apply after spending five years in Scotland with that particular type of visa.

Applying to settle in Scotland

The type of forms you need to complete to apply for ILR to settle in Scotland depends on the type of visa you currently have. You can apply online on the Home Office website or print and post the completed forms to them. Find out more about eligibility, fees and applying for ILR on the Home Office website.

Becoming a British citizen

Depending on various factors such as how long you’ve been in the UK and your current visa status, you may be eligible to apply for British citizenship. There are several ways to qualify for this. For example:

  • If you hold Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to become a British citizen one year after obtaining ILR. This process is known as ‘naturalisation’ and allows you to have a British passport.
  • If you are from a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you will usually be required to formally hold a Permanent Residence Card before applying for naturalisation as a British citizen. You will usually require to have been in the UK for at least 5 years before obtaining Permanent Residence. You will also need to meet the other criteria for becoming a British citizen such as being of good character and meeting the residence criteria.

Read the requirements for each type of application for citizenship and choose the best one for you and your family. If you are not sure which application to use, contact the Home Office for advice.

Applying for citizenship

Before you apply for citizenship, you need to take a computer-based test to show you are knowledgeable about language and life in the UK. The ‘Life in the UK’ test is made up of multiple choice questions based on the information from the handbook 'Life in the United Kingdom (Third Edition): A Guide for New Residents.' You can only take the test at an accredited Life in the UK Test centre in the UK.

You also need to show that you can communicate in English to a specific level. Unless you hold a degree deemed by UK Naric to be at Bachelor's level and taught in English, it may be necessary to sit an English language test. If you are from a country which the Home Office recognises is a majority English speaking country you won't need show evidence of being able to speak English.

You can apply for citizenship online on the Home Office website or print the forms and submit them by post. Find out more about ways to apply for British citizenship, eligibility, fees, and the handbook and citizenship test on the Home Office website.