Do Parents Get Citizenship Through the Birth of Their Child in the UK?
We are regularly asked by foreign parents of children born in the UK, “can I get British citizenship through my child?” Contrary to what many believe, it is not possible for a foreign national to claim citizenship or even leave to remain in the UK purely due to their relationship as a parent of a child born in the UK.
In addition, even if a child is born in the UK, this does not necessarily mean the child will be eligible for citizenship; rather they would need to have at least one parent who is themselves a British citizen, or a settled person in the UK (i.e. they have indefinite leave to remain or EU settled status). If you are the mother or father of a child born in Britain, but you are a national of another country, you will most likely be wondering what your rights are, and if you can settle and/or become a British citizen on the basis of your relationship to your child.
Can I Get British Citizenship Through My Child?
Unfortunately, there is no immigration provision which means that a foreign parent of a child born in the UK has an automatic right to leave to remain or citizenship. This may come as a surprise to many. There are, however, some possible immigration routes that can be considered once the child has been living in the UK for seven years.
How Can I Acquire Indefinite Leave to Remain as A Parent of a Child Born in the UK?
Foreign parents living in the UK can acquire leave to remain as a parent of a child who was born in the UK, under the family visa system. Under this immigration route, you will typically be given a visa for 2.5 years, which can be extended for a further 2.5 years, after which you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), and then British citizenship after a further year.
Meeting the Eligibility Criteria
Appendix FM of the immigration rules states in order to be eligible for a family visa as a parent of a child born in the UK, one of the following must apply:
- Your child must be under 18 on the date you apply
- Your child must have been under 18 when you were first granted leave and not live an independent life
- Your child must be living an independent life, i.e. they have not left home, got married and had children, or be financially independent.
Your child must currently be living in the UK and one of the following must apply:
- They are a British citizen
- They have settled in the UK – i.e. they have ILR, settled status, or proof of permanent residence
- If you are applying in the UK, they have lived in the UK for seven years continuously and it would not be reasonable for them to leave
This is why it is important to check if your child is either automatically a British citizen, or they are eligible to be registered as a British citizen, before you apply for a visa. If you are unsure of the citizenship status of your child, it is advisable to speak to immigration lawyers who will be able to tell you. If they are neither a UK citizen nor settled, then you will need to wait until they reach the age of seven until you can apply for a family visa.
You will also need to prove you have sufficient knowledge of English and you can financially support yourself and your family without claiming public funds.
Proving Parental Responsibility
In order to apply for a family visa as a foreign parent of a child born in the UK, you will need to have sole or shared parental responsibility for your child. If you do share parental responsibility, the child’s other parent must not be your partner or be a British citizen or settled in the UK.
In the situation whereby your child lives with their other parent, you must have legal access to the child in person, as agreed with the other parent in the form of a court order.
If you do not have parental responsibility, shared or sole, then you will not be eligible to apply for a family visa as a parent.
In order to show that you have sole or shared responsibility, you will need to provide evidence that you take an active role in their upbringing. This can be demonstrated by providing:
- A letter from your child’s school confirming you take them to school or go to parent evenings
- A letter from your child’s dentist confirming you take them to appointments
- A letter from the other parent confirming how much contact you have with your child (you’ll need to include proof of their identity, such as their passport)
The immigration rules also state that you can add other children to your family visa application as your dependents if they are under 18 on the date you apply or they were under 18 when they were first granted leave on a family visa, and they do not live an independent life.
If you have a child who was born in the UK, you may be eligible to apply under the UK family immigration route once they have been living here continuously for seven or more years. If you need to understand your immigration options until that time, it is highly recommended that you speak to experienced immigration Solicitors who will be able to help you work towards your desired goal of remaining in the UK with your child.