Some have argued that the UK Immigration Rules has created a clear path to settlement under each visa category. For example, a visa granted under the Points Based System provides a five year route to settlement which thereafter allows the migrant to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen once he/she has held Indefinite Leave to Remain for a year. Naturalisation is therefore, one of the routes available for acquiring British citizenship.
There are different routes available for acquiring British citizenship depending on when and where an individual was born. To clarify, in circumstances where an individual is born in the UK to British parents, he/she will automatically acquire British citizenship otherwise than by descent. Citizenship obtained otherwise than by descent can be passed on to a child regardless of where a child is born.
In contrast to obtaining citizenship otherwise than by descent, when citizenship is acquired by descent, the citizenship cannot be passed on to a child born outside of the UK. Consequently, an individual born outside of the UK to parents whom hold British citizenship by descent, cannot acquire British citizenship automatically and as such will be required to register as a British citizen.
Contact us if you require further information on the advantages and disadvantages of acquiring the two types of citizenship mentioned above. The type of citizenship acquired is important as this will have an impact on any future children and even grandchildren born outside of the UK.
What are the requirements for obtaining British citizenship by descent?
Under section 2 (1) of the British Nationality Act 1981, an individual born on or after 1 January 1983 is a British citizen by descent if he/she was born outside the UK where at the time of birth, either parent was a:
- British citizen otherwise than by descent; or
- British citizen who was serving outside the UK and where recruitment of the position took place in the UK or a country within the European Union.
In circumstances where an individual is born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother, the requirements are that the applicant:
- was born before January 1983; and
- would have acquired British citizenship by descent if women were permitted to pass on their citizenship to their children; and
- has the right of abode.
In order to satisfy the second requirement, it must be demonstrated that at the time of the applicant’s birth, the applicant’s mother was either:
- born, naturalised or registered in the UK as British; or
- a British citizen before 1 January 1949 and was born in a country protected by the UK.
Alternatively, a further way is if it can be shown that:
- the applicant’s mother was, at the time of the applicant’s birth, a British citizen and either the applicant or the applicant’s mother was in a country protected by the UK or;
- the applicant was born between 1 January 1949 – 31 December 1982 in a country not considered to be part of the Commonwealth; or
- the applicant was born before 1 January 1949 in a country not considered to be part of the Commonwealth, but the applicant’s birth was registered within a year of his/her birth at a British consulate.
To show that the third requirement relating to the right of abode is met, the applicant must demonstrate he/she has the right of abode which was acquired on the basis that:
- at the time of the applicant’s birth, the applicant’s mother was a British citizen by way of birth, naturalisation or registration; or
- one of the applicant’s maternal grandparents was a British citizen by way of birth, naturalisation or registration; or
- one of the applicant’s paternal grandparents was a British citizen by way of birth, naturalisation or registration; or
- the applicant had resided in the UK for a continuous period of five years before 1983.
The above routes to acquiring British citizenship by descent are the most common ways in which an individual can obtain citizenship. If you do not meet the requirements above and wish to confirm if there are any further routes available, please contact us for a consultation during which we can fully assess your immigration history and circumstances to ascertain if you are eligible to apply for registration under an alternative route.
It should be noted that regardless of which option above is relied upon to demonstrate the right of abode, the Home Office must also be satisfied that the applicant is a person of good character. If you are unsure as to whether you meet the good character requirement, please seek legal advice from a specialist. This is an extremely important requirement as the application for registration as a British citizen will be refused if the good character requirement is not despite meeting all of the other requirements for acquiring citizenship by descent.
Will I be required to submit supporting documents with my application?
In order to show that each requirement has been met, the applicant must produce evidentiary documentation to support his/her application. The type of supporting documents required with the submission of the application depend on the route relied upon.
Having said that, the documents generally required may include evidence of the applicant’s parents’ status, the applicant’s birth certificate and/or the birth and marriage certificates for parents and grandparents. The applicant may also be required to evidence that a parent is the biological parent of the applicant, depending on the route relied upon, which may require a paternity/DNA test. It is essential to obtain legal advice from an experienced immigration specialist as the array of documents required will be entirely dependant upon the route to citizenship. Any failure in providing the necessary documents with an application could result in a refusal or an invalid application.
Contact us and we will not only guide you through the requirements in detail, but we will also provide you with a list of all the supporting documents required to make a successful application. Additionally, before submission we will peruse the documents to ensure that the format of the documents is in accordance with the Home Office guidelines.