British Citizenship by Birth
Children can apply for British citizenship by Registration under The British Nationality Act 1981. The act specifies numerous provisions for Citizenship. Contact us for an assessment today.
British Citizenship by Birth
British Nationality Law has experienced many reforms over the years. The British Citizenship by Birth eligibility of an applicant will depend on factors such as date of birth, parent’s nationality, country of birth and character requirements.
If your children are already British, you are not required to make an application for Naturalisation or Registration under the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA).
- Birth or adoption in the UK on or after 1 January 1983
- Acquisition by registration of children or adults born in the UK due to early years spent in the UK – s1(4) BNA 1981
- By registration on parents becoming British or settled
- Minors adopted by British citizens (automatic acquisition) – s1(5) BNA 1981
- Born outside the UK – automatic acquisition by descent
- Acquisition by registration of children born outside the UK due to a connection with the UK – ss3(2), (4) &(5), and s4D BNA 1981
- Acquisition by registration of children under the discretion in s3(1) BNA 1981
Birth or adoption in the UK on or after 1 January 1983
The plain fact of birth in the United Kingdom since 1 January 1983 does not usually create any entitlement to citizenship unless it is combined with a parental link to a person settled in the United Kingdom.
This form of acquisition of citizenship operates by law, so no registration or other forms need be completed. However, proof that a person meets the above criteria will be required to prove citizenship and apply for a passport.
Acquisition by registration of children or adults born in the UK due to early years spent in the UK – Section 1(4) BNA 1981
Adults or minors are entitled to registration under s.1(4) of the BNA 1981 if they:
- were born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
- were not a British citizen at birth because at the time neither parent was a British citizen or settled here; and
- were aged 10 years or more on the date of application; and
- have lived in the United Kingdom for the first 10 years of their life; and
- during that 10 years have not been out of the United Kingdom for more than 90 days in any one of those years.
By registration on parents becoming British or settled
Acquisition by registration of children born in the UK upon parents becoming British or settled – s1(3) BNA 1981
Minors are entitled to registration under s.1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981 if:
- they were born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983; and
- they were not British citizens at birth because at the time neither parent was a British citizen or settled here; and
- while they are minors, either parent becomes a British citizen or becomes settled in the United Kingdom (NB: unlike for naturalisation of adult EEA nationals, no prior issue of permanent residence documentation is required, only evidence of acquisition of PR by the parent); and
- they are minors on the date of application.
Minors adopted by British citizens (automatic acquisition) – Section 1(5) BNA 1981
Section 1(5) of the British Nationality Act 1981, as amended, explains which children adopted on or after 1 January 1983 acquired British citizenship automatically because of their adoption.
Under s1(5), a child who is not already a British citizen becomes a British citizen from the date of an adoption order if
- the adoption is authorised by order of a court in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983 or, on or after 21 May 2002, by an order of a court in a qualifying territory; and
- the adopter or, in the case of a joint adoption, one of the adopters is a British citizen on the date of the adoption order
- it is a Convention adoption under the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions; and
- the adoption is effected on or after 1 June 2003; and
- the adopter or, in the case of a joint adoption, one of the adopters is a British citizen on the date of the Convention adoption; and
- the adopter or, in the case of a joint adoption, both of the adopters is habitually resident in the United Kingdom on the date of the Convention adoption.
- The current guidance is set out in Nationality policy Registration as a British citizen: children
- For adoptions non-compliant with the requirements set out in the policy, the old policy recommended registration if demonstrably in the child’s best interests, whereas the new policy allows registration only if there are exceptionally compassionate or compelling circumstances.
Born outside the UK – automatic acquisition by descent
Section 2(1) of the BNA 1981 covers this category and reads as follows:
A person born outside the United Kingdom after commencement shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother – is a British citizen otherwise than by descent
This form of transmission of nationality operates by law, so no registration form need be completed, but evidence may be required that the person does meet the above requirements.
- Any time up to the age of 18
- On residence in the UK with British Citizen parents for 3 years
- If the parent is or becomes a member of the armed forces
Acquisition by registration of children under the discretion in Section 3(1) BNA 1981
Section 3(1) can be used to register a variety of complex cases as it is a very wide discretion and states that if while a person is a minor an application is made for his registration as a British citizen, the Secretary of State may if he thinks fit, cause him to be registered as such a citizen.
Applications may be made either outright on Form MN1.
Acquisition by registration of children born outside the UK due to a connection with the UK – Section 3(2), (4) &(5), and Section 4D BNA 1981
Section 3(2) BNA permits registration where there is a sufficiently strong link with the UK, looking back across the generations, as to make it unfair to decline to permit access to full British citizenship.
The requirements, in the normal case, are as follows:
- As of 13 January 2010, the child to be registered must be under the age of 18.
- The child’s parent has the weak form of nationality (‘by descent’) but their grandparent has the strong form of nationality (‘otherwise than by descent’).
- The child’s parent has a residential link with the UK, in that they have lived here for a three year period sometime prior to the birth of the child, and did not leave the UK for more than 270 days within that period. However, for a child born stateless, this requirement is waived.
- With effect from 13 January 2010, s4D of the BNA 1981 permits registration of certain children born outside the UK to a parent serving overseas in the UK armed forces.
This section permits another form of registration. This does not require the grandparent connection, nor does it require the historic three-year stay in the UK that that section demands. However, it does require that the family including the child were in the UK for the three years leading up to the application for registration, and did not leave the UK for more than 270 days within that period. The application can only be made whilst the child is a minor.
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