Dual Citizenship UK
Dual British/UK citizenship in the United Kingdom is a rather interesting subject, since it covers a wide spectrum of areas such as the different classes of British citizens and ways in and conditions under which UK citizenship can be acquired. As a country that has become the home of many people, a variety of specifications form part of the British immigration and British citizenship laws. These UK Citizenship laws are enacted to control the immigration of non-British subjects, while offering rights and privileges of UK citizenship.
The UK nationality law allows for the acquisition of British/UK citizenship by birth, ancestry, naturalization, registration and adoption, while it outlines the different sub groupings which are used to explain the different status that a person may acquire within the British system. These include British subjects, British Overseas citizens, British Overseas territories citizens, British nationals and British protected persons.
British subjects, for example, are those persons that were not Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) or any other Commonwealth country, particularly those from British India or the Republic of Ireland as they existed before 1949. The term “British subject” however, is hardly ever used today and has at different times acquired different meanings.
The term British Overseas citizen (BOC) is used to refer to persons from former British colonies particularly from Malaysia and Kenya who did not qualify to be British or British Dependent Territories citizens.
Thirdly, a British protected person (BPP) is someone who was born in any British protectorate, protected state, mandated territory and trust territory that did not officially form part of the Crown’s territories. British protected persons have very limited rights in regards to voting, holding certain public offices, residency and employment in the UK, and are not regarded as nationals of the United Kingdom by the European Community. However, they are considered UK nationals, can own a British passport and be assisted and protected by any overseas based British Diplomatic representative.
British National (Overseas) (BNO) is the status that was acquired by British overseas territories citizens who lost their British citizenship when Hong Kong’s sovereignty returned to China in June 1997.
Finally, British Overseas Territories citizens are persons to whom British citizenship is conferred as a result of their connection with an existing overseas territory.
Though dual citizenship is accepted by the UK Government, restrictive measures have been put in place to curtail the influx of immigrants seeking British/UK citizenship or residency. Up till January 1st 1983, all children born within the United Kingdom, with the exception of those born to certain persons of diplomatic and consular status, automatically became British. From then, however, a child was only considered British if he was born to a British citizen or permanent resident in the UK or a legally qualifying territory. This rule also included children born between January, 1, 1983 and October 2, 2000, if either parent was a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) and was exercising Treaty rights, as well as children born on or before October 2nd 2000 in the UK to EEA nationals who have an unconditional right of residence under EC laws.
Additionally, a child born in the UK and is considered stateless or in a foreign country to someone who is a British citizen by descent qualifies to be registered as a British citizen if he remains in the UK until the age of 10. Registering to become a citizen also applies to former British citizens who renounced UK citizenship and children under 18 who are adopted outside of the UK by British citizens.
In regards to becoming naturalized in the UK, one must secure permanent residency in order to do so. The naturalization requirement vary from one group of persons to another, such as in the case of investors, writers, composers, artists, holders of work permits, sole representatives and businessmen years, and foreign spouses of British citizens who must reside in the UK for at least 5 and 3 years respectively. Anyone who has been in the UK illegally must have lived there for at least 14 years before requesting naturalization.
UK citizenship may also be granted to a Commonwealth national who is the descendant of a UK citizen born in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man. Also, after five years of residing in the UK, the holder of a UK ancestry visa may request to become a naturalized citizen. Anyone who acquires UK citizenship through naturalization should intend to live in the UK, enter the Crown service abroad, be of sound character and mind, capable of communicating in the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic and be 18 years of age or over. The naturalization process generally takes 6 to 7 months.
The British system has also made allowances for trained international professionals through the International Graduates Scheme. Through this program, any graduate who has completed a bachelor’s or Master’s degree, postgraduate certificate or Post Graduate Diploma in Education at a recognized British learning institution is capable of working in the UK for one year, after which he may qualify to become part of the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) now replaced by the Tier 1 (General) system, and eventually be granted permanent residency.
All of the information presented shows that dual citizenship or dual nationality is not restricted in the UK. Hence, a UK citizen does not have to renounce his UK citizenship in order to acquire another nor is a foreigner required to give up his to become British. A person, however, may be deprived of his UK citizenship if he is found guilty of jeopardizing the United Kingdom or an Overseas Territory’s vital interest.