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Can You Lose British Citizenship?

For many immigrants, gaining British Citizenship is the ultimate goal, however, to reach this stage can be a long, complex, and costly process. The ability to remain in the UK and become a British national has many benefits for immigrants, including the ability to acquire a British passport, to travel into and out of the country freely, and greater protection when abroad. Unfortunately, there are certain circumstances whereby Citizenship can be revoked. In this article, we are going to look at reasons why someone’s British Citizenship may be revoked and what you can do if you are facing this situation.

On what grounds can British Citizenship be revoked?

A person may be deprived of their British Citizenship (i.e. have their citizenship revoked / removed) in accordance with Section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 on 2 main grounds, as follows:

  • Ground 1: Fraud - If citizenship is found to have been obtained by fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact. This includes where a person has made false claims on their citizenship application or any other immigration application.
  • Ground 2: Conducive to the public good - If the Home Secretary believes it would be in the public interest to do so, and you would not thereby be made stateless. This might include where a UK citizen has:
    • encouraged or assisted others to commit acts of terrorism;
    • committed war crimes, public order offences or other serious crime; or
    • carried out acts seriously prejudicial to vital national interests, including espionage and acts of terrorism directed at the United Kingdom or an allied power.

In addition, a person may have their British Citizenship nullified (meaning it is removed because it was granted incorrectly) where a UK migrant:

  • already holds the status of British Citizenship – i.e. if they are granted British Citizenship, but because they already hold this status, the additional registration or naturalisation can be nullified.
  • where the applicant has concealed their personal attributes (e.g. a false name, place of birth, date of birth, or nationality) or impersonated another person meaning they are not the intended recipient of the citizenship grant.

It is important to note that British Citizenship can be removed from a person born in the UK or outside the UK, but only if they hold citizenship of another country – i.e. it can only be revoked where a person would not be left “stateless”.

Deprivation vs nullity of British Citizenship

The nullification of a person’s British Citizenship is aimed at removing the citizenship from someone who was granted it incorrectly and, therefore, puts them back to a state whereby they were never granted it in the first place. This is usually down to a genuine omission rather than a deliberate one. Deprivation, on the other hand, is aimed at those who have tried purposefully to defraud the system.

Deprivation is punished much more severely than nullification, and if you were previously in the country with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you will still be able to remain in the country if your British Citizenship is nullified. This is less likely to be the case if you are deprived of your British Citizenship as action is more likely to be taken against you.

Can you lose your British Citizenship if you live abroad?

According to the Home Office rules, your UK citizenship will not be affected if you decide to move or retire in a country outside the UK. In other words, you will not lose your British Citizenship if you move to another country.

Because dual citizenship is permitted by the UK authorities, you can apply for and gain citizenship in your new home country without losing your UK citizenship.

Will family members be affected If you lose your British Citizenship?

Potentially, yes. If the immigration status of your family member relies on the British Citizenship held by the person whose citizenship is to be revoked, it is possible they will also need to leave the UK.

They may also be affected if they are found to have been complicit with any actions that led to the citizenship being removed. The rules make it clear that all adults are expected to take responsibility for the information they provided on the acquisition of citizenship. As such, a person cannot simply claim that their family member acted on their behalf, a representative or interpreter made a mistake, or they were coerced as a way to argue they should be allowed to stay. If the person was a child at the time of any fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact being made, it would likely be assumed that they were not complicit in any deception by their parent or guardian, and hence not be affected by the loss of citizenship.

It may be possible for a family member to avoid removal if it can be shown there is a mental or physical impairment that impacted the person’s judgement at the time of the fraud, or there was coercion whereby the person was unable to make independent decisions.

Where a family member is affected, if they held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) before gaining Citizenship, they may simply revert back to this status and hence be able to stay in the UK – this applies mostly in cases of nullification.

Can I appeal if I lose my British Citizenship?

If you are deprived of your British Citizenship, you will most likely have a right to appeal. This is because, under section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, a person deprived of their Citizenship has a statutory right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. The British Nationality Act 1981 also states that the right of appeal does not apply where the decision made by the Secretary of State to deprive a person of their Citizenship was made based on information that should be kept secret (e.g. in the interests of national security or in the interests of the relationship between the United Kingdom and another country). In this case, you may be able to appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC).

In the case of nullification, you are not entitled to appeal to a first-tier tribunal. This is because you are put back to a status of never having been given British Citizenship in the first place. However, you may still have options available to you. Firstly, you may be able to request a Judicial Review against the Home Office before the Upper Tribunal. This will allow you to challenge the legal basis for the decision made against you. It is vital that you have legal protection in the event of a Judicial Review as the legal process can be complex and require intimate, technical knowledge of immigration law.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

The citizenship immigration team at Reiss Edwards have a wealth of experience in helping UK citizens and their family members to gain citizenship and dealing with cases of deprivation and nullification of Citizenship. Our team of specialist family immigration solicitors can:

  • Ensure the secure and immediate immigration status of you and your children
  • Quickly review your situation in the UK and that of your affected family members
  • Explain all of your options and recommend the best strategy to overcome nullification or deprivation of British Citizenship
  • Deal with the Home Office
  • Handle appeals, Administrative Reviews and Judicial Reviews on your behalf, ensuring you have the very best chance of success.
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