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What is British citizenship by descent?

Under UK nationality rules British citizens are classed as either having British citizenship by descent or British citizenship otherwise than by descent.  Citizens otherwise than by descent, can normally pass to British citizenship through one generation to children born abroad, although that child will be unable to pass the citizenship to subsequent generations who were born abroad.

Who can automatically acquire British citizenship by descent?

A person will automatically acquire British citizenship by descent if they were born outside the UK on or after 1st January 1983 and one or both of the parents is a British citizen other than by descent. British citizen by descent applies when an individual is born outside the UK and one or both parents are British. Section 14(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 provides an extensive definition of the term British citizen by descent.

What is British citizenship by double descent?

In some cases, people may be eligible for British citizenship based on having a British grandparent and this is known as a British citizenship by double descent. Like the citizenship by descent above, the eligibility for citizenship by double descent depends on where you were born as well as other factors.

How can I apply for registration as a British citizen?

There is a new application to be used to become a British citizen for those who would have been able to become British citizens but for:

  1. Historical legislative unfairness
  2. An act or omission of a public authority
  3. Exceptional circumstances relating to you which prevented you from become a British citizen

What are special circumstances?

Section 4L of the British nationality Act 1981 was introduced by the Nationality & Borders Act 2022 and to open a registration route for adults who would have been able to become British citizens. There are already other measures within the 1981 Act which intended to address historical unfairness, but the 2022 Act created registration routes for people who did not become British Overseas Territory citizens and British citizens because women or unmarried fathers connected to an overseas territory could not pass on citizenship at the time of birth.

What is historical legislative unfairness?

Section 4L(2) states that historical legislative unfairness includes but is not limited to, where the person would have become, or not cease to become a British subject, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or British citizen if an Act of Parliament or subordinate legislation had:

  1. Treated men and women equally
  2. Treated children of unmarried couples in the same way as children of married couples
  3. Treated children of couples where the mother was married to someone other than the natural father in the same was as children of couples where the mother was married to the natural father.

Danielle invites you to take a look at her blog, where you will see the diverse range of clients that she has helped.

If you have any questions about the process or would like to apply for British citizenship by descent, please contact Danielle or call on 020 7267 4133. Danielle will only charge you for the first consultation if you decide to become her client and if she can assist you.

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