In May 2014, the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent allowing a series of reforms to ensure the UK Immigration System is fairer to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tougher on illegal migrants. One the reforms, was a proposal from Lord Avebury‘s who suggested allowing anyone born before 1983 and whose parents were unmarried at the time of birth to be able to register as a British citizen. Here we will discuss the previous legislation and the amendments to the Immigration Act.
Old Law Acquiring British Citizenship
Previously, children born outside the UK to British fathers who are not married to their non-British mothers have not been able to inherit their father’s British citizenship. Since 1983, this also applies to those born in the UK to such fathers and to a mother who was not British nor settled in the UK. Only the child’s father could pass on a right of citizenship to his child, provided he was married to the child’s mother. Before 1983, a child born in the UK was automatically born a British citizen.
The Home Office amended regulations section 9 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, inserting section 4C into the British Nationality Act 1981. This allowed women to confer their British citizenship to their children who were born out side the UK. This regulation came into force on 1 July 2006 and applied only if:
- The father was named on the birth certificate and as long as the birth certificate was issued within one year of the child’s birth; or
- The father could provide evidence to the Home Secretary that he is the biological father of the child. Such as taking a DNA test or providing other relevant evidence.
This proved to be a disadvantage for those born before 1 January 1983 and whose parents were not married at the time of their birth. Considering there was very limited avenues to obtaining British citizenship.
New Law Acquiring British Citizenship
When the new Immigration Act 2014 was going through its readings at Parliament, Lord Avebury proposed an amendment to the legislation. His proposal was to allow anyone born before 1983 and whose parents were not married to have the right to register as a British citizen. The UK Government accepted the proposal and the Act received Royal Assent in May 2014.
Under section 65 of the Immigration Act 2014, any person born outside of the UK before the 1 January 1983 to a British person or a person settled in the UK, will have the ability to register as a British citizen. This will be regardless whether their parents are married or not.
Successful UK Naturalisation/British Citizenship Applications & Appeals
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