Descendants of British Parents – Your Right to British Citizenship by Descent

There are different ways to obtain British citizenship. You can become a British citizen by naturalisation or you may already be eligible for British citizenship by descent, all you have to do then is simply register and attend a citizenship ceremony.  If you were born outside of the UK but you have a parent who is British, you may be able to register as a British citizen.

Legal advice about registering as a British citizen from LEXVISA London Immigration Lawyers

Register as a British citizen by Descent: Are you eligible?

If you have British parents and you were born outside of the UK, there are two ways you may be eligible to register as a British citizen:

  • You were born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother; or
  • You were born to a British father, even if he was not married to your biological mother.

These are the preliminary eligibility requirements, there are further requirements you may need to satisfy. Further, if you have renounced British nationality previously, you will be governed by different rules.

Register as a British Citizen: Born before 1983 to a British Mother

Before 1 January 1983, children born to British mothers outside of the UK were not eligible to claim British citizenship. This is because prior to 1983 women were not able to automatically pass on citizenship. However the laws have changed, if you were born to a British mother before 1983 outside of the UK, you will be entitled to British citizenship by descent. To obtain this right, you will need to register with UK Visa & Immigration and to attend a citizenship ceremony.

There may be further rules applicable depending on how your mother acquired her British nationality in the first place. If you have any doubts, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration solicitors.

Register as a British Citizen: Born before 1 July 2006 to a British Father

This route applies to descendants who were born outside of the UK, before 1 July 2006, to a British father but your biological parents was not married. Prior to 1 July 2006, British fathers were not permitted to pass on their citizenship to children who were born out of wedlock. The laws have however changed now. If you have never been a British citizen and you would have become a British citizen automatically if your biological parents had been married, you will be entitled to register as a British citizen.

In order to be successful in such an application, you must be able to meet the high standard of evidential proof with regards to your relationship with your biological father. The courts will require you to provide genuine and reliable documents to demonstrate your relationship with your father in order to legally recognise a man as your father. You may need to provide DNA test report or relevant court rulings if your biological father does not appear on your birth certificate.

Register as a British Citizen by Descent vs Naturalise as a British Citizen

Both of the scenarios above warrant you a right to ‘British citizenship by descent’; this is different from British citizenship by naturalisation. Once you are successful in acquiring British citizenship by descent, you will become a British citizen but you will not normally be able to pass on British citizenship to any children born outside of the UK.

Hence, if you are residing in the UK, you may wish to naturalise as a British citizen instead to secure citizenship rights for your children in the future who are born abroad.

Other Requirements for British Citizenship by Descent

As similar to naturalisation, the Secretary of State must be satisfy that you are you are of ‘good character’. Normally, this will mean that you have a clean criminal record in the UK and in any other country. Furthermore, you are expected not to have acted dishonestly in their dealings with the UK government. However, if you do have previous criminal convictions, this does not necessarily mean that you will not succeed in your citizenship application. Each case will be unique and will be dependent on other wider personal circumstances.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible for British citizenship, our experienced immigration solicitors will be able to discuss and assess your situation with you.

Successful UK Citizenship by Descent Applications

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of the law. Please always call us for a telephone case assessment even if you wish to consider other advisers. If you wish to consider your options, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your matter and if necessary advise you of the next steps you should take in a consultation.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

If you need professional legal advice about applying for British citizenship please contact us for a case assessment on 02071830570. You can also reach us via our contact form

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