The Home Office guidance on registration as a British citizen states that before considering applying for citizenship, parents should check whether the child is already registered. In some cases, having gone to the time and expense of preparing an application, parents have indeed gone on to discover that their child was already a fully-fledged British citizen.
If the child was born in the UK before 1983, they should have been automatically registered as a British citizen. If a child was born in the UK on or after 1st January 1983 when one parent was a British citizen or €˜settled' in the UK, then they should also have been automatically registered as a British citizen. In these cases, you should not need to apply for British citizenship for the child in question.
In this article, however, we will make the assumption that this has been checked, or it is already known that the child is not a citizen of the UK.
In accordance with the British Nationality Act 1981 (the Act), there are several scenarios that might lead to a child applying for British Citizenship. Children who are not currently registered but can apply for citizenship may have been born in the UK, outside of the UK, born to parents in the armed forces, and in some cases may be stateless. The Act covers the following scenarios:
Given the wide range of potential routes to UK citizenship as a child, it is essential that the person making the application chooses the appropriate section. As the Home Office guidance states, this is to avoid the situation of a child being given citizenship by descent, when it should be given as an €˜entitlement', or vice versa.
Read also: Get prepared - Top Tips on Passing the British Citizen Test
Registration as a British citizen for a child under 18 can be completed within or outside of the UK using an online form.
The supporting evidence required will depend on the section being relied on (as per the list above). The type of evidence which may be requested includes (this list is not exhaustive):
As part of the application process, you will be advised which items of evidence are required to support the child's UK citizenship application.
The application fee for UK nationality registration as a child is £1,012 or £810 if the child is a British overseas territory citizen, British overseas citizen, British Subject, or British protected persons.
In some cases, the Home Office can use its discretion to grant registration as a UK citizen, but only if:
If the child has some form of association or family relationship with any person who has been or who are engaged in terrorism, or extremist behaviour or who has raised security concerns, this will typically lead to a refusal of citizenship. It is important to seek the advice of immigration experts for any case on which there may be a reliance on the discretion of the Home Office to grant citizenship. This is because immigration Solicitors will be able to prepare a case that mitigates as many concerns which the Home Office may raise, and the strongest possible rationale for why the child should be registered as a UK citizen. This will include ensuring that there is no basis for refusal on the basis of character, or objections raised by one of the child's parents.
Citizenship of a child in the UK can be fraught with complexity if not well understood. If you are in any way unsure of the best route to use to apply for citizenship as a child, or if you have received a refusal and are now unsure what to do, it is vital to seek the help of an immigration lawyer. Sometimes refusal letters from the Home Office do not provide a clear reason for the decision made, and hence applicants may not be aware that by making a minor change or waiting for a particular event to be completed (e.g. the adoption process if applicable), an application will then achieve a successful outcome.
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