The United Kingdom is a prominent travel destination known for its rich historical heritage, lively cities, and distinctive cultural experiences. Its economic growth, numerous employment opportunities, and captivating views have made the country a must-go destination for all foreigners. While some foreigners are immigrating through study or sponsorship routes, others are striving to obtain citizenship in the UK.
How and who can obtain citizenship in the UK? This and many more questions will be answered in this article, just keep reading. You may qualify to apply for citizenship if your birth place is outside the UK and your parent/grandparent is classified as British otherwise than by descent.
Meanwhile, after you have obtained UK nationality, you will be entitled to all rights and benefits of a British citizen. These include the right to vote, work, study, and live in the UK without any restrictions. In this article, we will take you through all the processes involved in obtaining citizenship in the UK. Let’s get started!
British Citizenship by Descent
According to British nationality law, all UK citizens are either citizens by descent or British citizens otherwise than by descent. When referring to British citizenship by descent, it means that an individual who was born outside the UK can apply for British citizenship. Based on either their parents or grandparents’ status as British citizens.
British citizens otherwise than by descent are individuals who are British citizens by birth, registration, naturalization, or adoption. As a British citizen by descent, you’ll not go through any immigration restrictions and have most of the same rights as any other British citizen. These benefits include the right to a UK passport and the right to vote in the United Kingdom elections.
However, citizens by descent are not permitted to pass on their British citizenship to their children who were born outside the UK whilst citizens otherwise than by descent are permitted to do so.
Eligibility to Become a British Citizen by Descent
Generally, British citizenship by descent is automatically passed down by one generation to children who were born outside the UK. Therefore, If you were born outside the UK to one of your parents who was a British citizen at the time you were born, then you automatically qualify for British citizenship by descent. If your parents were either born or adopted in the UK, obtained their citizenship after applying for it by themselves, or were working as a crown servant when you were born.
Then, your parents can pass on their citizenship to you automatically. You’ll not be eligible for automatic citizenship by descent if your British parents obtained theirs by descent. If you are an automatic citizen by descent, it will also depend on when you were born, as well as your parent’s immigration status at the time.
However, if your place of birth was outside the UK on or after 1st July 2006 then you’ll automatically qualify for citizenship by descent so far one of your parents was a British citizen otherwise than by descent when you were born. If your place of birth was outside the UK between 1983 and June 2006, then you also qualify automatically for citizenship by descent if one of your parents was a British citizen otherwise than by descent when you were born.
However, they must have been legally married by then, if your father has British citizenship but your mother doesn’t. Before 1983, if your place of birth was outside the UK then you’ll only qualify as an automatic citizen by descent if your father was British and was also a citizen of the UK and Colonies. And must be married to your mother, then he will be able to pass on his citizenship to you.
Eligibility to Register for Citizenship by Descent
Meanwhile, if you don’t automatically have a right to British citizenship, there are some other conditions in which you may qualify to register as a British citizen by descent. Let’s dive in and check out the conditions.
1. If your date of birth was before 1983: You may qualify to register as a citizen by descent if your parents were not legally married when you were born. As well as if your mother was British instead of your father. To be able to register, your mother or father must have been a citizen of the UK and Colonies when you were born. Also, they must have citizenship otherwise than by descent unless they were working as a Crown servant at the time of their birth.
2. If your date of birth falls between 1983 and June 2006: You’ll be able to register for citizenship by descent if your father was not married to your mother at the time of your birth. To qualify, your father must have been a British citizen otherwise than by descent or working as a Crown servant at the time you were born.
3. If your place of birth is outside the UK on or after 1st July 2006: You may still be eligible to register as a British citizen if you’ve lived in the UK with your parents. Your British parents lived in the UK before you were born or you were adopted outside of the UK.
Applying for British Citizenship by Descent
Below, we have compiled the general steps to apply for British citizenship by descent. Read on!
1. Check if you qualify: To qualify for British citizenship by descent, at least one of your parents must have been a British citizen at the time of your birth. As well as become a British citizen by naturalization or registration before you were born. Also, you must meet other eligibility standards like being of good conduct and being without any criminal convictions.
2. Prepare your supporting documents: You must provide supporting documents to demonstrate your eligibility. These include your birth certificate, your parent’s birth certificate/passport, and any marriage certificates if available. You may also show proof of your current nationality and residence status.
3. Fill out the application form: You can apply for British citizenship by descent online through the UK government’s application website. Meanwhile, you’ll be required to provide personal details, your parent’s information, and details of your past nationality or residence status.
4. Pay the application fee: You will be required to pay an application fee for applying for British citizenship by descent. It will depend on the type of application and where you are applying from. However, you can access information about the current fees on the UK government’s website.
Processing Time for British Citizenship Application
After submitting your British citizenship application and you go for your biometrics appointment, you’ll get a decision within 3-6 months. Although, it may take longer depending on how complex your application is.
British Citizenship by Double Descent
Although British citizenship by descent can only be obtained by citizenship being passed down one generation by a parent. But, in some cases, people may qualify for British citizenship because of a British grandparent, this is known as British citizenship by double descent. For instance, with citizenship by descent, your eligibility for citizenship by double descent will be determined by the time of your birth and some other factors.
1. If your date of birth was after 1st January 1983
You may qualify for citizenship by double descent if:
- You had a UK-born grandfather who was in the Crown Service when your parents were born.
- You or a parent were born in a former British colony.
- Your parents had a British-born mother and not a British-born father and were registered as British citizens between February 2nd and December 31st, 1982.
2. If your date of birth was before 1st January 1983
Some cases have occurred in the past where individuals were allowed to claim British citizenship by descent (or double descent). Such cases include:
- You or your parents were born in a former British territory (excluding the main Commonwealth countries of 1949).
- You or your parents were registered as British citizens.
- Your parents were in Crown service at the time of your birth.
- Your parents got married before 1949 and your father’s father was born in the UK.
- Your mother’s father was born in the UK and you were born outside the EEA.
3. If your date of birth was before 1949
You may also qualify to claim British citizenship by descent from a grandparent under certain conditions. However, the most common types of claims happen in the following situations.
- You and your parents were not in a Commonwealth country (must have been born before 1915).
- You or your parents were born in a former British territory.
- Your grandparents or parents were married to a British man before 1949.
How to Prove Your Citizenship if it’s Automatic
If you’ve automatically obtained British nationality then you can prove this by either applying for a British passport or applying for a letter confirming your immigration status. Furthermore, if you are below 16 years of age, you’ll need to apply for a child’s passport. But, if you are over 16 years of age, then you must apply for an adult’s passport.
You can apply for a passport either online or by post. If you do not wish to apply for a passport then you can request a letter confirming your British citizenship status by completing the form online. It’s available on the gov.uk website.
However, you cannot use your letter to prove your immigration status for work, immigration, or travel purposes. You will be required to have a UK passport to do this.
What Next After you Obtain British Citizenship by Descent?
After you obtain British citizenship by descent, you will be granted the right to stay indefinitely in the UK. As well as acquire the same rights and benefits as a UK-born. As a British citizen, you will have the right of abode, which implies that you do not need a visa to visit the UK.
Also, there is no set duration of time you can spend here. Meanwhile, you can apply for a Certificate of Entitlement or just use your passport to show you have the right of abode in the UK. The Certificate of Entitlement is an official document that demonstrates your permanent right of abode in the UK.
The Benefits of British Citizenship
If you decide to acquire British citizenship, you will be entitled to the same rights as all other UK citizens. Some of these benefits include:
1. Live in the UK indefinitely
After you have obtained British citizenship, you are free to live in the UK without any restrictions. You can also exit and return to the country whenever you feel like and there’s no time-frame to stay overseas. Furthermore, it’s easier to enter the country with a British passport, as you won’t be subject to immigration checks.
2. Work and study freely in the UK
Obtaining British citizenship permits you to freely work and study in the UK. You do not need to apply for a study or work permit to study or work. This means you can take a job with any employer, not just one that is capable of sponsoring your work visa.
This also removes any restrictions on how much you need to earn to be able to secure a visa. For many people, this freedom is life-changing, as it allows them to live freely and follow their passion rather than being stuck in a job just for the visa. You’ll also find it easier to change jobs, which can greatly advance your career potential.
3. Free healthcare
UK residents are proud of their publicly funded healthcare system. As a British citizen, you will have unlimited access to free healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS).
4. You can claim public funds
Generally, people with visas cannot claim public funds, but British Citizens have full access to claim UK state benefits. These benefits include Job seeker’s Allowance or Child Benefit, as a couple. Benefits can help to support you when you are unable to work or provide extra support if you are disabled, have children, or are elderly.