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IMMIGRATION
FAQs: British Citizenship

Please note that the above questions and answers have been prepared from the emails, telephone calls and actual cases that we have dealt and have therefore not provided any names and addresses in order to keep cleint confidentiality.

Question:
I have recently obtained indefinite leave to remain in the UK on the basis of residing in the UK for a complete 5 year period in a combination of work permit and HSMP leave. My question is regarding my child who was born in the UK before I got ILR. Do I now need to make an indefinite leave to remain application for my son as well?

Answer:
No. You do not need to make a separate application for your child now. Your child can be registered as a British Citizen (under section 1 of the 1981 British Nationality Act) as he was born in the UK to a parent who now has ILR in the UK. You, however, can only apply for British Citizenship once you have completed 12 months after the grant of your ILR and this will be by way of naturalization as a British citizen.

Question:
I am a male British Citizen and my daughter was born in the UK in April 2006 from a relationship with my unmarried partner. My partner is from Ukraine and has not got any visa here. My question is regarding my daughter: can I apply for her British passport?

Answer:
Please note that any children born out of wedlock before 1st July 2006 would take the nationality of the mother only. So, your daughter would take the Ukrainian nationality of her mother and cannot therefore apply for a British passport. However, if you get married with your partner, your daughter will become legitimized and can take your nationality.  You can also apply for your daughter to be registered as a British citizen at the discretion of the Home Office and this would normally be granted.

Question:
The UK Border Agency has refused my application for naturalization. Can I lodge an appeal against it?

Answer:
Unfortunately there is no right of appeal against a refusal of an application for naturalization. However you can write to the UK Border Agency to ask them to review their decision or lodge an application for Judicial Review in the High Court. You can also, if you wish, lodge a fresh application by providing fresh documentary evidence to the UK Border Agency addressing the issues raised by them in the refusal.

Question:
My wife came to the UK in March 2010 on an “Indefinite Leave to Enter visa” (based on the fact that we had been married and living together abroad for more than 4 years at that point). How long must we wait before she can apply for citizenship?

Answer:
It depends on your citizenship.  If you are a British Citizen she can apply for naturalization on completing three years’ residence in the UK. If you are not a British Citizen and only a permanent resident, then she would have to wait for five years before making the application.

Question:
When can I apply for naturalization as a British Citizen if I am not married to a British Citizen? Is it 5 years or 6 years in total?

Answer:
The general principle when making an application for British Citizenship is a residence requirement of a minimum of five years’ legal residence including a minimum 12 months spent with ILR / Permanent Residence. So, it could be five years or six years or more, depending on when you got your ILR. For example, if you have completed your five years residence in the UK on the basis of a work permit, you can apply for ILR.  After completing one year with ILR you can apply for British Citizenship so that would make a total 6 years residence in the UK.
For spouses of British citizens you only need to have ILR when you apply for citizenship and there is no need to have held it for 12 months.  They also need only to have lawfully resided in the UK for three years.  Of course, since the probationary period for spouses has been increased to five years this 3-year residence requirement has become largely academic.  So, in the case of someone who came to the UK as a the spouse of a British citizen under the new rules with a 5-year probationary period they could apply for naturalisation on receiving ILR after five years in the UK.

Question:
I am an American born in New York in 1982. My mother is British but she did not get me a British passport when I was born as she was in the process of divorcing from my American father when I was born and we moved to another country straight after I was born. Although I am over 18 now, I believe I can still obtain British citizenship.  Is this true?

Answer:
Yes under Section 4C of the 1981 British Nationality Act, you are able to register as a British citizen if your mother was British at the time of your birth, and you were born outside the UK  before 1983. This provision was introduced in order to even up the previous imbalance in nationality law whereby only British fathers could pass on British citizenship to their children. It does not matter if your parents were married/unmarried/divorced at the time of your birth.

Question:
I am a British Overseas Citizen,  and was born in a former British colony (Sierra Leone) in 1954. I now live in South Africa but do not hold South African citizenship. I believe I can now apply to be registered as a full British citizen as I hold no other nationality or citizenship.  Is this correct?

Answer:
Yes, that is right. Provided that you only hold British Overseas citizenship and do not hold, and have never held, any other nationality or citizenship, you can be registered as a full British citizen under section 4B of the 1981 British Nationality Act.  The other requirement is that you must not have ever given up any other nationality/citizenship nor lost any nationality/citizenship through either action or inaction. Sometimes it is possible to be deemed to be a citizen of another country even though you never applied for the citizenship of that country. You would need to provide proof of where/when you were born and you would also need to obtain a letter from the authorities of the country where you were born confirming that you never applied for, nor were granted, the citizenship of that country.