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British Citizenship for Child Born Abroad

A child born outside the UK to a person with British citizenship can register to become a British citizen. As a British citizen, your child will have the right to live in the UK for the rest of their lives, work, study, claim benefits, apply for a British passport, and use the NHS.

Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your child’s British citizenship application.

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British citizenship for a child born abroad general requirements

A child born to a British citizen abroad can be registered for British citizenship by descent if they have a parent or grandparent who is a UK national.

Unlike people who are born in the UK to a British parent who automatically gains citizenship, people born outside the UK sometimes have to register to gain this status. With British citizenship, it is possible to remain in the UK permanently, work, and study, claim benefits, apply for a British passport, and access the NHS.

Once a child born abroad has received citizenship it is then possible to apply for a British passport on their behalf, meaning they will be free of immigration control. They will then be able to travel into and out of the UK freely without the need for a visa.

British citizenship by descent is passed down a maximum of one generation child born to a British citizen abroad. Unlike a person who is born in the UK and has British citizenship ‘other than by descent’, a person with ‘citizenship by descent’ cannot pass down citizenship to their children.

We recommend checking if your child is already a citizen as they may have automatically been registered. To check, go to the Home Office British citizenship checking website1 or speak to one of our immigration solicitor on 020 3744 2797 who can help.

Requirements to register as British citizenship for a child born abroad

In order to register a child as British citizen born abroad, the following requirements must be met:

  • Child born abroad to British mother or father.
    The child must be born outside the UK and have at least one parent who was a British citizen at the time of their birth
  • The applicant must be of good character (this only applies to children over 10 years)
  • Granting British citizenship by descent must be in the best interests of the child
  • The child and their parents must have resided in the UK for three years prior to the application being submitted. If the child’s parents lived in the UK before they were born, they must have done so for at least 3 years.

To check if your child is eligible for British citizenship as a child born outside the UK, speak to one of our helpful immigration Solicitors. Call us on 020 3744 2797 or email at info@reissedwards.co.uk for advice on how to apply for British citizenship for a child born abroad.

Apply for British citizenship for a child born abroad

If a child was born outside the UK to a British parent, they may be automatically a British citizen or you may need to apply to register for British citizenship on their behalf.

Automatically eligible for British citizenship

Whether they will have automatically become British citizenship as a child born outside the UK depends on when they were born, as follows:

If they were born on or after 1st July 2006

Your child may automatically get a British citizenship if:

  • they were born on or after 1st July 2006, and
  • one of their parents was a British national when they were born, and
  • their British parent was able to pass down their citizenship. This means their British parent was either born or adopted in the UK, gained citizenship after applying for it in their own right, or worked as a Crown servant at the time the child was born.

If they were born between 1983 and June 2006

Your child may automatically get a British citizenship if:

  • they were born between 1st January 1983 and the 30th June 2006, and
  • one of their parents was a British citizen when they were born (there is no requirement for them to have been married if your father held British citizenship but their mother did not), and
  • their British parent was able to pass down their citizenship. This means the British parent was either born or adopted in the UK, given citizenship after applying for it in their own right, or worked as a Crown servant when the child was born.

If they were born before 1983

Your child may automatically get a British citizenship if they were born outside the UK and their father is British. According to the immigration rules, the father must have been all of the following when they were born:

  • a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies
  • married to the child’s mother
  • able to pass on his citizenship. This means the British parent was either born or adopted in the UK, given citizenship after applying for it in their own right, or worked as a Crown servant when the child was born.

Register child as a British citizen by descent

If a child was not automatically a British citizen as a person who was born outside the UK, they may be able to register as a British citizen by descent. The rules depend on when they were born.

If your child was born on or after 1st July 2006

Your child may be eligible to register for British citizenship as a child born outside the UK if:

  • they have lived in the UK with their parents, or
  • their British parent lived in the UK before they were born, or
  • they were adopted outside the UK

If the child has lived with their British parent/s in the UK:

  • they must be under 18, and
  • their mother or father must have been a British citizen when they were born, and
  • they must have lived in the UK with their parents for the 3 years before the date of application, and
  • the child and their parent/s must not have spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the 3 year period, and
  • the child and their parent/s must have been in the UK exactly 3 years before the date of application (i.e. the date it is received by the Home Office)

If the child’s parents lived in the UK before the child was born:

  • they must be under 18, and
  • their mother or father must have been a British citizen when they were born, and
  • their parent/s must have lived in the UK for 3 years before they were born
  • their parent/s must not have spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the 3 year period, and
  • their British parent had a British mother or father who could pass on their citizenship to them. This means that their British parent’s mother or father was either born or adopted in the UK, given citizenship after applying for it in their own right, or if they worked as a Crown servant when their parent was born.

If your child was born between 1983 and June 2006

A child born outside the UK may be able to register for British citizenship if their British father was not married to their mother. However, you will need to show he was British when the child was born. You will also need to show that he was either born or adopted in the UK, given citizenship after applying for it in their own right, or that he worked as a Crown servant when the child was born.

If your child was born before 1983

They may be able to register for British citizenship as a child born outside the UK if:

  • their parents were not married when they were born, or,
  • their mother was British but their father was not

Their mother or father must have been a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time they were born. They must also have been born or adopted in the UK, given citizenship after applying for it in their own right, or worked as a Crown servant when the child was born.

The eligibility rules for British citizenship for a child born abroad can be confusing. Call us on 020 3744 2797 or email at info@reissedwards.co.uk for advice on how to apply for British citizenship for a child born abroad.

Child born outside the UK to settled parents

A child born outside of the UK to parents who are settled in the UK can apply for British citizenship once they have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for one year. To gain ILR the child must live in the UK with both parents and both parents must be settled and residing in the UK

A child can also apply for ILR if one parent is settled in the UK, but only if any of the following are true:

  • the parent has primary legal responsibility the child
  • the other parent is decease
  • there are genuine and compelling reasons why the child should be allowed to stay in the UK.

For more information on this matter, please see our article on applying for citizenship for a child born outside UK to settled parents.

Registration vs Naturalisation

Registration is the legal process used by a child of a British parent to gain British citizenship by descent. On the other hand, naturalisation is the process used by other immigrants to the UK to gain citizenship. Registration is simpler than applying to become a citizen through naturalisation. Applicants are not required to pass the Life in the UK test and there is no need to pass an English language test.

British citizenship for child born abroad required documents

There are several items of evidence that are needed applying to register for British citizenship for a child born abroad, including:

  • the child’s birth certificate showing parents’ details
  • evidence of the parent’s British citizenship by descent at the time of the child’s birth
  • if the claim is through the father and the child was born before 1st July 2006, the parent’s marriage certificate
  • passports or alternative evidence of residence for the children and the parents to confirm residence in the UK for three years immediately before the date of application, and they had not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days in that three year period
  • if one of the parents has died, the death certificate for the deceased parent
  • if the parent’s marriage or civil partnership has ended in divorce, either:
    • the parents’ divorce certificate
    • a formal letter confirming nullity
    • evidence of dissolution of civil partnership
    • a formal letter confirming judicial separation

The Home Office will explain which documents to provide with your child’s application. Due to the importance of keeping children safe Home Office case officers are particularly careful when it comes to checking documents for registration applications.

To check if you have the necessary documents to support your child’s application, speak to one of our immigration Solicitors. We can handle your child’s British citizenship application, providing you with the best chance of receiving a quick and positive decision. Call us on 020 3744 2797 for a free telephone consultation.

Reference:

1GOV.UK: Check if you have British Citizenship

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"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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