British Citizenship

British Citizenship by Automatic Acquisition

Before seeking status in the United Kingdom as a foreign national or stateless person, it is worth considering whether you may already be a British citizen by law.

Individuals who are able to demonstrate that they are British citizens have the right to enter and reside in the United Kingdom free of immigration restrictions.

Eligibility for British Citizenship by Automatic Acquisition

You will already be a British citizen if:

  • You were born in the United Kingdom before 1 January 1983; or

On 31 December 1982 you were:

  • A citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies; and
  • Had at any time before 31 December 1982 been settled in the United Kingdom; and
  • Had at that time been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for the last five years or more while a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies; or

On 31 December 1982 you were:

  • A Commonwealth citizen; and
  • At the time of birth your parents were married; and
  • At the time of birth your father was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth in the United Kingdom; or

You were:

  • Born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
  • At the time of birth your father was a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom; and
  • At the time of birth your mother and father were married; or

You were:

  • Born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
  • At the time of birth your mother was a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom (irrespective of marriage); or

You were:

  • Born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 July 2006; and
  • At the time of birth your father was a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom (irrespective of marriage).

Alternatively, you may automatically be a British citizen by descent if:

You were:

  • Born outside the United Kingdom before 1 January 1983; and
  • At the date of birth your father was a British citizen otherwise than by descent; and
  • At the date of birth your mother and father were married; or

You were:

  • Born outside the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
  • At the time of birth your father was a British citizen otherwise than by descent; and
  • At the date of birth your mother and father were married; or

You were:

  • Born outside the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
  • At the date of birth your mother was a British citizen otherwise than by descent.

British nationality law is complex. If you were born in circumstances other than those set out above then you may still have an automatic claim to British citizenship – for example if your parents were not married at the time of birth and subsequently married, you were adopted, or at the time of birth your mother or father was serving in HM Armed Forces.

Whatever your circumstances, it is necessary to provide documentary evidence in support of your claim to be a British citizen.

For expert advice and assistance in relation to your entitlement to British citizenship by automatic acquisition or any other aspect of applying for British citizenship, contact our immigration solicitors in London on 0207 467 5767 or e-mail d.winnie@rfblegal.co.uk

  

British Citizenship by Naturalisation

If you are an adult and have no restrictions on the period of time for which you can reside in the United Kingdom, then you may be eligible to apply to be naturalised as a British citizen.

You will have no time restrictions on the period for which you can reside in the United Kingdom if you have been granted indefinite leave to remain by the Home Office, or if you have acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK under European law.

Applications for naturalisation from persons married to a British citizen

If you are married to, or the civil partner of, a British citizen and meet the following requirements, then you may apply to be naturalised as a British citizen. The requirements are that you:

  • Are aged 18 or over; and
  • Are of sound mind; and
  • Are able to communicate in the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language to a sufficient standard (for example you can express opinions on abstract / cultural matters in a limited way and understand instructions and public announcements); and
  • Have sufficient knowledge of the United Kingdom; and
  • Are of good character; and
  • Have been in the United Kingdom for the last 3 years; and
  • Have not been in the United Kingdom in breach of the immigration laws in the last 3 years; and
  • Have not been absent from the United Kingdom for more than 270 days during the last 3 years; and
  • Have not been absent from the United Kingdom for more than 90 days during the last 12 months; and
  • Do not have a restriction on the period of time that you may lawfully stay in the United Kingdom.

Applications for naturalisation from persons not married to a British citizen

If you are not married to a British citizen then you may still apply to be naturalised as a British citizen if you:

  • Are aged 18 or over; and
  • Are of sound mind; and
  • Are able to communicate in the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language to a sufficient standard; and
  • Have sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom; and
  • Intend that your principal home will be in the United Kingdom; and
  • Are of good character; and
  • Have been in the United Kingdom for the last 5 years; and
  • Have not been in the United Kingdom in breach of the immigration laws in the last 5 years; and
  • Have not been absent from the United Kingdom for more than 450 days during the last 5 years; and
  • Have not been absent from the United Kingdom for more than 90 days during the last 12 months; and
  • Do not have a restriction on the period of time that you may lawfully stay in the United Kingdom; and
  • Did not have any restriction on the period of time that you could lawfully stay in the United Kingdom at any time during the last 12 months.

Naturalisation at Discretion

All applications for naturalisation as a British citizen are subject to the discretion of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. This means that even if you meet the requirements set out above (whether or not as the partner of a British citizen) your application may still be refused if there are good grounds.

You may also be naturalised as a British citizen on a discretionary basis if you do not meet all of the above requirements (for example, if you have been absent from the United Kingdom for too long or were in the United Kingdom in breach of immigration laws for part of the relevant period).  You must have been in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the 3 or 5 year period and must be free from any time restrictions on your stay in the United Kingdom.

Ceremony

If your application for naturalisation as a British citizen is successful, you will have to attend a naturalisation ceremony, during which you will be required to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen and make a pledge of loyalty to the United Kingdom.  You will be naturalised as a British citizen once you have attended this ceremony.

For advice and assistance with applying to be naturalised as a British citizen, contact our immigration solicitors in London on 0207 467 5767 or e-mail d.winnie@rfblegal.co.uk

British Citizenship by Registration

Before seeking status in the United Kingdom as a foreign national or stateless person, it may be worth considering whether you, or your family member(s) (including children), are eligible to be registered as a British citizen.

Registration as a British citizen will enable you or your family member to apply for a British passport and provide a right to enter and reside in the United Kingdom free of immigration restrictions.

Eligibility for Registration as a British Citizen

  • Registration as a British Citizen by Entitlement
  • You will have an automatic entitlement to be registered as a British citizen if, for example:

You:

  • Were born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
  • Are not automatically a British citizen by birth; and
  • Were absent from the United Kingdom for no more than 90 days in each of the first 10 years of your life; and
  • An application for you to be registered as a British citizen is made at any time after your 10th birthday; and
  • You are of good character; or

You:

  • Were born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
  • Are not automatically a British citizen by birth; and
  • Either your mother or father subsequently became a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom before your 18th birthday; and
  • An application for you to be registered as a British citizen is made at any time before your 18th birthday; and (if the application is submitted after your 10th birthday)
  • You are of good character; or

You:

  • Were born outside the United Kingdom; and
  • At the time of birth one of your parents was a British citizen by descent (for example they were born outside the United Kingdom to British citizen parents); and
  • That parent’s father or mother was a British citizen otherwise than by descent (for example they were born in the United Kingdom before 1 January 1983); and
  • Prior to your birth that parent had been in the United Kingdom for a consecutive period of at least three years; and
  • During that three year period that parent had not been absent from the United Kingdom for more than 270 days; and
  • An application for you to be registered as a British citizen is made at any time before your 18th birthday; and
  • You are of good character; or

You:

  • Were born outside the United Kingdom; and
  • At the time of birth one of your parents was a British citizen by descent (for example they were born outside the United Kingdom to British citizen parents); and
  • An application for you to be registered as a British citizen is made at any time before your 18th birthday; and
  • You and your parents were in the United Kingdom on the day 3 years before the application is made; and
  • During the intervening 3 year period you and each of your parents have not been absent from the United Kingdom for more than 270 days; and
  • Both your mother and your father consent to the registration; and
  • You are of good character.

Registration as a British Citizen by Discretion

Alternatively, you may be registered as a British citizen at the discretion of the Secretary of State for the Home Department if:

  • An application is made for you to be registered as a British citizen before your 18th birthday; and, if the application is made after your 10th birthday
  • You are of good character.

If your circumstances are other than those set out above you may still have a claim to be registered as a British citizen – for example if:

  • You were born before 1 January 1983, were unable to inherit citizenship from your mother in specific circumstances, would have had a right of abode in the United Kingdom on 31 December 1982 had you been able to inherit citizenship from your mother, and are of good character; or
  • You were born before 1 July 2006, your parents were not married at the time of your birth, you have never been a British citizen, you are of good character, and you would have become a British citizen in certain specific circumstances had your parents been married at the time of your birth.

Applications for registration as a British citizen need to be supported by documentary evidence which confirms eligibility and registration as a British Citizen will only be possible if you are not already a British Citizen by Automatic Acquisition.

For advice and assistance with regard to the possibility of applying for yourself or a family member to be registered as a British citizen, contact our immigration solicitors in London on 0207 467 5767 or e-mail d.winnie@rfblegal.co.uk

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