09 Dec 2017
How difficult is it to become a British citizen?
UK citizenship is the stuff dreams are made of, for aspirants around the world, including would be-royal Meghan Markle and self-proclaimed anglophiles.
Those who underwent the process to secure British citizenship term it difficult, costly and frustrating.
Couples awaiting fiancee visas are in for long waits and lots of emotional and financial stress.
How difficult is it to secure a British citizenship? We explain.
The frustrating process to secure a fiancee visa
Freddie O'Farrell, 24, a British man who's waiting for his American partner's fiancee visa, claims that it's a "complicated" and "stressful" procedure.
His fiancee is purportedly stranded in Minnesota while the application is in process.
It will be difficult for her to find work in the UK without a visa. This is putting them under financial stress.
Waiting around gets stressful too, says O'Farrell.
Rules that change at the drop- of-a-hat
Jessica Pan, an American writer, says that the struggle over fiancee visas is part of a "frustrating system."
While she originally planned on applying for a UK citizenship as a skilled-migrant, a sudden change in rules made the option unavailable and forced her to apply for a fiancee visa.
"People plan their entire lives around these rules that change at the drop-of-a-hat," she claims.
Passing the test: A major hurdle
While aspirants from non-English speaking countries have to pass an English language test, Americans must take a "Life in the UK" test containing ambiguous questions.
Karen Marshall, who acquired British citizenship in 2013 describes the test as "a challenge from start to finish."
In her case, although she passed the test the first time, she had to re-appear due to an error in paperwork.
Collating paperwork: Another major challenge
Once the test is cleared, applicants are expected to collate and turn in detailed information on travels in and out of UK over the past 5 years. This is practically challenging and many find it difficult to complete this.
Is the system so difficult on purpose?
"Frankly, the system is very difficult to navigate, prohibitively expensive - though I imagine that is probably on purpose," contemplates O'Farrell, who's waiting for his partner's fiancee visa.
A Home Office spokesman notes that the process is kept expensive to fully fund the system by those who use it the most and to "reduce the burden on the UK taxpayer".
But, is British citizenship really worth it?
According to Marshall, a retired piano teacher, the "fantastic" National Health Services is a key benefit.
"I have lived with both systems (British and American) and, believe me, UK citizens have it made as far as healthcare goes," she states.
While they will lose free-movement privileges through Europe post-Brexit, Mrs. Pan states that "the greatest strength of citizenship is to have a say."