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British Citizenship

British Citizenship policy law is set out in the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA) and sometimes is referred as the British Citizenship Act 1981. Proving that a person holds British Citizenship burden is placed by the Immigration Act 1971, as it requires for a person to hold a right of abode to remain in the UK & be able to exercise rights as a British Citizen.

This was set out correctly in the case of Kessori Khatun (4272) held that "the standard of proof applicable to the right of abode, whether that right be dependent on citizenship or relationship, is that of the normal balance of probabilities".

The British Nationality Act 1948 continues to impact the current appeals decisions at both the Tribunal & Courts. The Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) was the status given prior 31st of December 1982, however 6 different British Nationalities were created through the British Nationality Act 1981, which depends on your connection to the British Empire. British Citizenship can also be lost through independence of that British territory and although the country may have become part of the Commonwealth, it did not mean that a person was able to acquire British Citizenship post 1st of January 1983.

Various forms of British Citizenship

There are 6 different forms of British Citizenship. We look in brief the various routes and their benefits:

  1. A person that holds British Citizenship in full, otherwise referred as a British Citizen, allows a person to live and work in the UK free of any immigration controls. You will be able to also apply for a British passport and this is applied through the Identity and Passport Agency. There are 3 routes of becoming a British Citizen, first if you were born in the UK to parents holding settled status or they were British Citizen. The second by descent depending on your parent’s nationality status as well as how they have acquired it. Lastly, if you are free from immigration control & have applied through the application of naturalisation.

  2. British Overseas Territories (BOTC) Citizenship was also referred to the “British Dependent Territories Citizenship” before February 2002. A person became a BOTC if you are CUKC on 31st of December 1982 and one of your parents and grandparents who was born, registered or have been naturalised in the British overseas territories. Where a person holds BOTC status, you will not have any automatic right to live or work in the UK.

  3. British Overseas Citizen (BOC) is a person holding connections to Hong Kong. The UK came to an agreement hat on the 30th of June 1997, Hong Kong will be returned to China. The British Nationality Act of 1981, granted British Citizenship if you were Stateless or if you was born on or after 1st of July 1997, would have become a Stateless person. A person can still apply for a BOC status, if you were born in the UK/overseas territory and one of your parents is a British Overseas Citizen.

  4. The British Nationality Act 1948 defined who were a “British Subject” and everyone who had close connections to the UK until 1949, held that status. Following the changes in the British Nationality Act of 1981, it was restricted to certain people who gained British Subject status. There are certain instances whereby British Subject status was preserved, for example a woman who registered as a British Subject on the basis of your marriage prior to 1st January 1983.

  5. British National (Overseas) also termed as BNO, is a category with those having connections to Hong Kong. A person having connections to Hong Kong, were able to register as a BNO on 30th of June 1997 if they held no other forms of nationalities. Those who were not a BNO cannot register to become a British National (Overseas).

  6. British Protected Person also referred as BPP, retained that status on 1st January 1983, if they were a citizen or national of Brunei, was already a BPP status holder and would have been born stateless. Usually, a person holding BPP status would lose this if they have become a national of another country.

The above provides a summary of the types of British Citizenship may have gained either through independence of the country that was part of the British Empire or by registration or was born in the British territory. Applying for British Citizenship is not a straight forward application, as the status of your parents and grandparents matters in those decisions.

Applying for British Citizenship through the Immigration Act 1971

We move towards the Immigration Act 1971, which implements the Immigration Rules HC395. A person is able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, also referred as ILR, once they have lived in the UK for 5 years.

There are certain categories that may permit a person to acquire ILR once they have lived in the UK for 3 years however residency requirement is applicable when applying for British Citizenship through the naturalisation process.

British Citizenship cannot be applied if certain requirements as set out by the British Nationality Act 1981 is not met and this is set out in Regulation 6 of the Act.

Registering under British Citizenship Act 1981

A person can register as a British Citizen in various forms and here is a summary of those:

  1. A person can apply under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997, when certain requirements are met. The policy law set out on Section 1(1) of the Act, permits a person to register as a British Citizen if they were domicile in Hong Kong, was in Hong Kong prior to 4th of February 1997, held BDTC status and would have become stateless otherwise. The above criteria’s can be used to confirm that a person has no other claim to any other forms of nationalities on the relevant date by confirming that they hold no other nationalities other than British, neither parents were born outside of Hong Kong and both parents hold British Citizenship without holding any other nationalities.

  2. We move towards children acquiring British Citizenship. A number of legislation changes have impacted the British Nationality Act1 981. Prior to 1st of January 1983, a British women was not able to pass on their British Citizenship to their children as the same way a man was able to do so. The amendments were made by various legislation and Section 4C of the British Nationality Act1 981 permits a child to register as a British Citizen. Further changes have been made to the Act, and children born prior to 1st July 2006, unmarried father’s can register their child under Section 4G to 4I of the BNA 1981 Act.

  3. There are other ways a child can also register as a British Citizen, for example if their parents have become settled post the relevant date or the child have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 10 years.

  4. As discussed above, there are 6 categories of British Citizenship and except a person holding British Citizen status, the other 5 categories can acquire British Citizenship under the British Nationality Act1 981 once they have lived in the UK for 5 years. Sections 4(2), 4(5), 4A and 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 allows a person to acquire British Citizenship with a right of abode. This will then allow a person to live in the UK without any restrictions. By applying under this route, a person benefits from a number of exemptions. For example, the KoLL requirements do not need to be met. There are other discretions applied normally not available on the normal British Naturalisation process.

British Citizenship following Stateless Status

A person cannot choose to become Stateless and then become a British Citizen. The British Nationality Act 1981 will not allow a person to acquire British Citizenship simply because a person wishes to hold British Citizen and refuses to acquire a form of nationality or citizenship that they are entitled to.

First of all, an individual who was either born in the UK or at a British Overseas Territory is permitted to lodge an application under the British Nationality Act 1981 if they meet the following requirements:

  1. The person was born on or after 1st of January 1983.

  2. Born stateless and has remain stateless, without being entitled of any other forms of nationalities or citizenship.

  3. At the date of application, the person was under the age of 22 years.

  4. The person has been in the UK for the last 5 years, with limited absences of no more than 450 days over the 5 years period.

Similar policy is applied for those born outside of the UK. It is important to note that if the person’s parents hold or has held other forms of British Citizenship; they will only acquire that status and not British Citizen status. For example, a person’s mother or father or both have held BOC status, then the person can only acquire this after registration.

Further to this, the extension of Schedule 2 of the British Nationality Act 1981 allows a person who was born prior to 1st of January 1983, to register as a British Citizen because their mother was a UK and Colonies citizen, born within a British territories or the UK, and remain stateless without having any entitlement to apply for citizenship or nationality of a country.

In all cases, when applying to register as a British Citizen, it is not a simple question of lodging your application but you must be clear on which policy law you wish to rely on as well as providing specified evidences as set out by the British Nationality Act 1981. We understand that sometimes this may not be possible due to the time duration however without careful evidences being supplied, an application for registration as a British Citizen will simply fall for refusal if you fail to meet the requirements as set out by the British Nationality Act 1981. For example, providing a full birth certificate is not sufficient to prove you are a British Citizen. It can act a form of evidence to demonstrate the identity of a person is met, but this would not be sufficient in all cases to satisfy the requirements.

Registering for British Citizenship following renunciation

First of all, the British Nationality Act 1981, namely Section 13(1) allows a person to register as a British Citizen. In short, it requires the person to be of full capacity, a person of good character and most importantly, renunciation was required for them to acquire another form of citizenship or nationality.

 The law expands further to those born prior to 1st of January 1983. As we know that a person would have held CUKC status also known as Citizens of the UK and Colonies. As with the above requirements, the person applying for British Citizenship must also demonstrate that they have a qualifying connection to the UK or have been married to a person who held such a connection as defined under Section 10(2) of the BNA 1981 Act.

Finally, Secretary of State can apply discretion in line with Section 13(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981 if renunciation was only done due to a career move and their marriage/civil partnership have ended.

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