Is it better to apply for citizenship with PR or settled status?
Both PR and settled status are routes to citizenship. The key difference is that with settled status, you need to wait 12 months from the decision date unless you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, regardless of how long you have been in the UK. PR can be backdated, unlike settled status. There is also an important legal difference in that settled status only proves you are lawfully resident from the date settled status is granted. Therefore if settled status is used as a route to citizenship, the Home Office will still look at periods before the date your settled status was granted to check that your residence was lawful, and this will include checking if you had CSI during any periods where you were self-sufficient or a student.
If you are unsure about fulfilling the CSI requirement if you were a student or self-sufficient person in the past, it might be a good idea to mitigate the risk by trying to apply for a document confirming you were lawfully resident for your time in the UK to qualify for permanent residence via an application for a Permanent Resident (‘PR’) document first, which costs £65. Unlike settled status, to have permanent residence in the UK, you will need to show you had CSI if you were a student or self-sufficient. This way you will only lose £65 and not the £1330 application fee should you apply to naturalise (in addition to costs such as the Life in the UK test, biometrics appointment and the English Language Test). You can still apply for a PR document until 31 December 2020. Please keep in mind the time frame it will take for a decision on your PR application and how this may impact your citizenship application, since this route may be closed in a few months’ time. If unsure, we recommend you seek legal advice.