UK Immigration & Nationality Lawyers

British citizenship

British citizenship

British citizenship is an ultimate form of belonging to British society. It will give you an entitlement to vote in referendums and general elections and entitlement to apply for a British passport. British passport is not issued automatically and there is no mandatory requirement to have one.

British citizenship is granted for life and is not lost as a result of absence from the UK for any length of time. It may be revoked if obtained by deception or following a serious conviction.

What is the difference between citizenship and indefinite leave to remain?

Holders of indefinite leave to remain have the right to live and work in the UK without restrictions. However, this right is lost after an absence from the UK for two years or longer.

Children born outside the UK to holders of indefinite leave to remain are not British by birth. Children born outside the UK to naturalised British citizens are born British (this type of citizenship is called “by descent”.

Holders of indefinite leave to remain are not entitled to a British passport. They have to naturalise first, i.e. become British citizens and then apply for a British passport.

Britain allows dual nationality and does not require you to renounce other citizenship before applying to become a British citizen.

How to acquire British citizenship?

For those who are not British by birth, there are two ways of acquiring British citizenship: through naturalisation or registration.

Naturalisation is reserved for persons over 18 years of age. It requires an oath of allegiance to the Queen, knowledge of Life in the UK and knowledge of English (an exemption applies for applicants over 65 years of age).

Citizenship through naturalisation is granted at the discretion of the Secretary of State. There is no right of appeal against refusal of an application for citizenship. Judicial Review is the only way of challenging an unfavourable decision.

Are UK-born children British citizens?

Not every child born in the UK is a British citizen. Nationality of the child depends on the immigration status of his or her parents.

A child born in the UK to a British parent or a person settled in the UK is a British citizen by birth.  It is possible to obtain confirmation of British citizenship for a child where there is a risk that his nationality may be disputed.

Children born before 1 July 2006 do not automatically inherit their British nationality from their father if the father is not married to their mother. They have to be registered at the discretion of the Secretary of State to remedy this legal deficiency, or they may become British once their parents get married. There is no time limit on this latter provision.

We strongly advise prospective applicants to seek legal advice before applying.


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