British Citizenship – What Does it Mean to be British?


What Does it Mean to be British? 

The Question What Does it Mean To be British is a common one in UK immigration law for those who are seeking a path to British Citizenship 

Do you live, or are you interested in living in the United Kingdom of Great Britain? Would you consider yourself British if you lived in the country for some time, say, a couple of years?  

Well, living in the UK and forming a queue for pretty much anything or being able to talk at length about the weather does not give you an express right to be considered British. It’s not even a matter of a “Fancy a cuppa” accent. 

Perhaps you’re almost giving up with this mind-boggling exploration of trying to find out what exactly makes an individual be a British national. Well, stay tuned in here for the next couple of minutes to understand the legal perspective of British citizenship from expert immigration solicitors. 

The British Nationality Act 1981 

The British nationality Act 1981 sheds sufficient light on the issue of UK citizenship. Enacted on January 1st 1983, the UK’s Act of Parliament spells out the conditions in which an individual can become a British citizen 

British by Birth

According to section 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981, you can be regarded as a British citizen by birth if any of the following scenarios applies to you at the time of your birth:- 

  • Your parents were married, and one of them was a British citizen
  • Your parents were married, and one of them had settled in the UK
  • Your parents were married, and one of them was part of the armed forces.

However, your eligibility to the status will also depend on your year of birth, and this is even if any of the conditions highlighted above apply to you.  

For instance, under the provisions of the Act, specifically Immigration Rules Appendix EU) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, a non-British child who’s born in the UK from July 1st, 2021, going forward, gets British citizenship automatically if:  

  • His/her parent successfully attains Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the E.U. settlement scheme following the birth of the child, and the citizenship application was made by June 30th 2021  
  • His or her parent gets indefinite Leave to Remain under the E.U. settlement scheme successfully after the birth of the child and:
  •  The citizenship application was made on June 30th 2021, by a parent with permanent residence rights; the outcome of the application had not been determined by the time the child was born.
  • The submission of the application is made after June 30th 2021, and accepted after the birth of the child, and the parent can prove, on reasonable grounds, the cause of the late submission and demonstrate that they would have met EUSS ILR requirements by June 30th if they submitted the application then.

You also stand high chances of acquiring British citizenship if you were born in a British colony before January 1983 and had the right to live and work in the UK without restriction by any immigration controls.  

Discussed here are a few of the many possible scenarios whereby UK law can consider you a British by birth. You can consult our immigration lawyers London to find out your eligibility status for UK citizenship and get expert help on the way forward if you want to become a UK citizen.  

British by Naturalization 

If you don’t meet the criteria of being British, you can be naturalized to become a British citizen. The term, Naturalization, relates to the legal process by which an adult person who is not a citizen of a certain country acquires the citizenship or nationality of the country. 

However, acquiring British nationality or citizenship is not an automatic process. You have to need to meet certain statutory requirements for your application to be successful. Your character, intentions, length of residence in the UK, English knowledge and immigration status are among the key factors that will influence the determination of your application. If your spouse is a British citizen, your requirements will be different from those whose spouses are non-British.  

Let’s say your spouse is not a British citizen. If this is the case, the Home Office will need to ascertain that you have not left the UK for over 450 days within the intervening period of five years. Besides, it has to be established that you had been in the UK over the five years preceding the date of your citizenship application, and you didn’t breach any immigration law during the five-year period. Those are just some of the requirements.  

Moreover, if you are applying for UK citizenship while married to a British citizen, the Home Office has to establish that you had been in the UK throughout the three years preceding the date of the application. Besides, the British government department has to be satisfied that you didn’t leave the UK for more than 270 days within the intervening period of five years. However, these are just a few of the basic minimum requirements. You may want to

 consult immigration lawyers for expert advice if you want to acquire British citizenship by Naturalization, whether you’re married or single, and irrespective of whether your spouse is British or not.   

What Comes with British Citizenship?

If you really want to live in the UK and this is something you must achieve, then you might find it necessary to apply for British citizenship.  

This status gives you unrestricted right to live in the country. As such, you can work, participate in political elections, study, access public funds as well as free medical treatment freely. 

Unlike the holders of UK Visas, with British citizenship, you have a right to go to or from the country freely, without getting subjected to the country’s immigration control measures. Such provisions appear under section 2 of the Immigration Act 1971.  

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British Citizenship Might not Be Forever. 

Getting UK citizenship is one thing, and maintaining it is another, especially for the naturalized British. In short, we are telling you that you can lose the status under certain conditions. Here are some of the circumstances that can prompt the UK’s Home Office to revoke your British citizenship: 

  • Upon realization that you didn’t deserve to get citizenship. Using falsified information during the citizenship application is among the key reasons that can make you an undeserving applicant. Concealing a material fact is also a possible cause. 
  • Confirmation that you were involved in fraudulent activity.
  • If the Home Office finds the revocation favourable for the public good. For example, because you had obtained your indefinite leave to remain by fraud.

There may be some instances where an individual might not be bothered to cease to be a British national for reasons best known to themselves. However, if you want to continue enjoying the rights and freedoms that come with being a British or UK citizen, it is advisable that you pursue expert help. Get in touch with our immigration lawyers, who are award-winning experts, for legal advice, guidance and any other possible assistance to defend your citizenship.  

You can be British automatically through birth or apply to become one through Naturalization. When you are a UK national or citizen, you are entitled to an array of rights and freedoms that a non-British can’t enjoy. However, remember to uphold the highest level of integrity when applying for and even after getting the citizenship to avoid issues with the home office that might cause the revocation of the citizenship. Feel free to contact us at Gulbenkian Andonian if you have any challenges concerning your British Citizenship or application for the same, and you’ll get first-rate professional help.

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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

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