British Citizen by Birth

All children born in the UK or overseas to UK parents do not automatically acquire British citizenship according to current UK immigration laws.

In order to claim British citizenship by birth, a qualifying child will have to be registered.

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    What is British Citizenship by Birth?

    British citizenship by birth is an application process for children born under certain circumstances to at least one parent who is a UK citizen. Children born in the UK can gain British citizenship automatically when both parents are British nationals. In most other cases, children must register for citizenship.

    In some cases, a child born abroad who is registered for British citizenship by birth may then achieve dual citizenship. In other cases, a child can be granted sole British citizenship in order to legally stay in the UK permanently and claim British nationality based on certain eligibility requirements.

    Because the application process for British citizenship by birth can be complex, many applicants consult a dedicated immigration lawyer to navigate the process. How you should apply for British nationality status for yourself or your child depends on your personal circumstances. Each category has its own requirements for eligibility.

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    Eligibility for British Citizenship by Birth

    When applying for British citizenship by birth, both the child applicant and the sponsoring parent must meet certain eligibility requirements to be granted British citizenship at birth:

    • The child is at least 10 years old at the time of application
    • The applicant and parents must have resided in the UK for three years prior to the date the application is submitted
    • In the three years prior to applying for citizenship, the applicant and parent have not spent more than 270 days outside of the UK
    • The citizenship application must be approved by both parents
    • All applicants over the age of 10 must be determined to be of good character

    There are a variety of circumstances in which you may obtain British citizenship by birth.

    British Citizenship by Descent

    This category is typically meant for those who are born in a non-UK country. British citizenship by descent is based on the nationality and immigration status of the parent. To register for UK nationality based on British citizenship by descent you must meet one of the following requirements:

    • Born on or after 1st July 2006 with at least one British parent at the time of the birth are automatically granted British citizenship.
    • Born between 1983 and June 2006 with at least one British parent at the time of the birth may acquire British citizenship by applying.
    • Born before 1983 with a father who is a British citizen are automatically granted British citizenship.

    When applying through this category, applicants will use Form MN1.

    British Citizenship by Adoption

    With the 1981 British Nationality Act, an adopted child who was adopted on or after 1st January 1983 can automatically acquire British nationality if one of the parents is a British citizen.

    Adopted children who are subject to a parental order of responsibility made in a UK court can also become British citizens if the parent in question is a UK national. UK citizenship acquired by adoption remains in place even if the adoption or parental order is ended.

    British Citizenship for Children Born Through Surrogacy

    UK immigration laws around surrogacy can be complex. A qualified immigration lawyer can help you to navigate the application process if you qualify for this category.

    In the event that a parental responsibility confirming the order has been granted in the UK on or after 6th April 2010, the child can become a British national through the parent’s name.

    In the event that the parents are of the same sex, the parent who is listed first on the parental order will be considered mother or “parent 1.”

    Good Character Requirement

    All applicants for British citizenship who are over the age of 10 must meet the requirement of “good character” according to UK immigration laws. The good character requirement ensures that those who are granted British citizenship have the following attributes:

    • Not broken previous visa or immigration regulations
    • Not have a police record of breaking the law
    • Not be involved in criminal or terrorist activity

    Ultimately the decision on good character is determined by the UK home office.

    Required Documents

    The exact supporting documents needed may vary depending on your circumstances. Generally, they include:

    • Full birth certificate or adoption certificate
    • Previous or current passports
    • Biometric residence permit
    • Evidence the applicant is a British citizen by birth

    Note that certificates must be in their original form and may not be submitted as photocopies. Documents that are not originally in English or Welsh must be provided along with certified translated copies.

    How to Apply

    The fastest way to apply for UK citizenship by birth is by completing the application form T online at the UKVIS website. You will need to pay the application fee at the time of submission. When applying online, you can upload your documents directly into the system. You can also choose to have your documents scanned when you attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services centre to have your biometric information taken. Biometric information consists of fingerprints and a photograph. You will have to pay a small fee for this service.

    Once your application is approved, you may need to schedule a citizenship ceremony.

    When you attend the ceremony you will receive your citizenship certificate and the process will be complete. Successful applicants will have British nationality, or perhaps dual nationality. Then you can apply for a British passport.

    While you are able to apply by post, processing of physical applications is experiencing delays due to coronavirus. In addition, if you physically send your supporting documents in, it may take a while to have them returned.

    Note that if you are applying from the Isle of Man, British overseas territory, or the Channel Islands, you will be required to apply by post.

    British Citizenship Ceremony

    All applicants aged 18 and over are required to attend a citizenship ceremony and take an oath of allegiance to the UK to receive their citizenship certificate. You will need your citizenship certificate in order to apply for a British passport.

    You may attend the citizenship ceremony with your child. Applicants under the age of 18 are not required to attend a ceremony and may receive their citizenship certificate by post to the address you provide on your application.

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      Costs and Fees

      Costs and fees for British citizenship by birth can vary depending on your personal circumstances, but generally include:

      • £1,012 application fee per child under the age of 18 who is being registered as a British citizen
      • £1,206 application fee per applicant over the age of 18
      • £80 citizenship ceremony fee, mandatory for applicants aged 18 and over
      • £19.20 for biometric information (fingerprints and photos)

      If you are under the age of 18 and cannot afford the fee for the citizenship by birth application, you may be eligible to have the citizenship application fee waived.

      Processing Times

      The fastest way to apply for citizenship by birth is online. Applying by post can take significantly longer. Typically it takes about 6 months to receive a decision although processing may be delayed due to coronavirus.

      Once you receive a decision you will also need to consider additional time to book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) center to provide your biometric information including fingerprints and a photograph. Once your application is approved, you will need to schedule and attend your citizenship ceremony.

      Common Reasons for Denial of British Citizenship by Birth

      The most common reasons that an application for British citizenship by birth is rejected are:

      • Incomplete documents
      • Inaccurate or incomplete application
      • Applying under the wrong category

      Carefully checking your application before submitting it can help to ensure that your application is not delayed or rejected. Confirm that you meet all requirements for eligibility prior to submitting your application as different categories have different eligibility requirements.

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        How Can Total Law Help?

        With Total Law, our team of professional immigration lawyers can advise you on the best route to acquire citizenship in the UK.

        A lawyer’s legal knowledge can help to ensure your required documentation is complete and your or your child’s citizenship application has the best chance of being approved according to UK immigration laws.

        Your Total Law advisor will provide you with current information and advice regarding British citizenship by birth.

        For further information, contact us today at 0333 305 9375 or use our online contact form to get in touch with our team of qualified immigration lawyers.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  British passports are only available for UK citizens. If your child was born in the UK but does not automatically have citizenship and has not been registered for citizenship, then they will be unable to apply for a passport until they receive their citizenship certificate. A child born in the UK is not always considered a British citizen. Citizenship depends on the citizenship status of the parents and the specific circumstances. If you are unsure if your child is eligible for British citizenship or a passport, contact a dedicated immigration lawyer at Total Law who can advise you on your situation.

                  If the parents hold settled status or citizenship in the UK, then the child will automatically acquire British citizenship by birth. However, if the parents do not have qualifying status when the child is born, but achieve it after, then the child will have to be registered for British citizenship.

                  You are not required to use a lawyer to pursue British citizenship by birth for yourself or your child, however many applicants choose to use one. Qualified immigration experts such as at Total Law can help to demystify the application process, advise you on up-to-date immigration law, and recommend the best course of action for your specific situation, saving you time and money.