Definition of British Citizenship, Permanent Residence and ILR

The British Government’s Policy Paper dated June 26, 2017, viz. Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK, provides the definitions of British Citizenship, Common Travel Area (CTA),  EU Citizen, Free Movement, Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), Leave to Remain, Permanent Residence,  Right to Reside and UK Nationals. This post provides the details of the aforesaid definitions for enabling a better understanding.

British Citizenship, Permanent Residence, ILR in the UK

Definition of British Citizenship

One may automatically qualify as a British citizen, depending on where he/she was born, when he/she was born and circumstances of the individual parents.

Person Born before Jan 1, 1983

If a person is born before 1 January 1983, in qualifying British overseas territories, except the sovereign base areas of Dhekelia and Akrotiri (in Cyprus) then in most of the cases the person is a British citizen. However, there are a couple of limitations that the may not be British citizen:

  • if the individual’s father was a diplomat working for a non-UK country
  • if the individual’s father was ‘an enemy alien in occupation’ – this only applies to people born in the Channel Islands during World War II

Citizen of UK and Colonies on 31 December 1982 with the right of abode in the UK

A person may have been a UK and Colonies citizen if he/she were born before 1983 in a country that was a UK colony at the time, or if the person had a connection with a colony through his/her father. The person may have lost that status if the country later became independent.

Right of abode means you have the right to live and work in the UK without any immigration restrictions. If this information is shown in the passport then in most cases the person is a British citizen. The only exception is if the person’s mother didn’t become a British citizen on 1 January 1983 and the person had the right of abode because he/she was registered under the British Nationality (No 2) Act 1964. If the information is not shown in the passport then the person is not a British Citizen and might be able to become a British citizen through naturalisation.

Person Born on or after Jan 1, 1983

If a person is born on or after 1 January 1983, in qualifying British overseas territories, except the sovereign base areas of Dhekelia and Akrotiri (in Cyprus) and when the person was born, one of his/her parents a British citizen or legally settled in the UK than in most of the cases, the person might be a British citizen and there is no need to register or naturalise, and the person can live in the UK and get a British passport.  ‘Legally settled’ means the parents had the right to live permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’).

However, such a person won’t be a British citizen through his/her father if all the following apply:

  1. the person was born before 1 July 2006
  2. the person’s parents weren’t married when he/she was born and haven’t married since
  3. the country of person’s father considered his permanent home when the person was born distinguished between children of married and unmarried parents – if the person is not sure then is required to check with the country in which he/she was born

British Citizenship by Descent

If a person is not born in qualifying British overseas territories on or after 1 January 1983,  and when the person was born, either one or both parents a British citizen ‘not by descent‘ then in most cases the person is a British citizen ‘by descent’.  The person does not need to register or naturalise and can live in the UK and get a British passport. ‘Not by descent’ means that:

  • the parent’s gained British citizenship in their own right (and not through their parents or grandparents)
  • they were able to pass their British citizenship on to their children

A person is a citizen ‘by descent’ if all the following apply:

  1. the person was born outside of the UK
  2. one or both of the parents were British citizens at the time of the birth

However, the person’s children will not automatically become British citizens.

A Person Wil Not be a British Citizen ‘by descent’

A person won’t be a British citizen ‘by descent’ through his/her father if all the following apply:

  1. the person was born before 1 July 2006
  2. the parents weren’t married when the person was born and haven’t married since
  3. the country of the person’s father considered his permanent home when the person was born distinguished between children of married and unmarried parents

In this case, you might still be able to register as a British citizen.

Moreover, a person will not be a British citizen ‘not by descent’ if, when he/she was born, one of the parents was a British citizen in Crown service, designated service or service of a European Community (EC) institution.

This means the person can pass on his/her British citizenship to his/her children.

The person’s parent must have been recruited to their service in the UK or EC (if they were serving with an EC institution).

Children born on or after 21 May 2002 also qualify if their parent was recruited in British overseas territories, except the sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (in Cyprus).

Neither Parents a British Citizen ‘not by descent’

If a person is not born in qualifying British overseas territories on or after 1 January 1983,  and when the person was born, neither of the parents a British citizen ‘not by descent then the person is probably not a British citizen. 

In some cases, such an individual might be able to register as a British citizen if he/she is under 18 years of age. If the person is 18 or over then the person can only become a British citizen through naturalisation.

Such person can only be a British citizen if, when the person was born, one of the parents was a British citizen in Crown service, designated service or service of a European Community (EC) institution.

In this case, the person will be a British citizen ‘not by descent’ and can pass the British citizenship on to his/her children.

The person’s parent must have been recruited to their service in the UK or EC (if they were serving with an EC institution).

Children born on or after 21 May 2002 also qualify if their parent was recruited in British overseas territories, except the sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (in Cyprus).

British Citizenship

People born before 1 January 1983 became British citizens if they were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies with the right of abode in the UK immediately before that date. This generally included people born in the UK or a former colony who had a connection with the UK through birth, descent or residence. Since 1983 British citizenship can be acquired through birth in the UK to a British or settled parent, adoption in the UK by a British citizen, descent from a parent, or through registration or naturalisation. All British citizens have the right of abode in the UK.

Common Travel Area (CTA)

The CTA comprises the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and the Republic of Ireland. Movement without immigration controls for nationals of the CTA is important in the special relationship that exists between these states.

EU Citizen

Refers to any person who holds EU citizenship as established under Article 20 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, save that for current purposes, persons who are EU citizens solely by way of their British nationality are excluded from the scope of this term. That Article provides “Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a member state shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship”. However, member states may withhold EU citizenship from certain groups of citizens, most commonly those in overseas territories of member states outside the EU.

Free Movement

Free movement of people is one of the founding principles of the EU and is enshrined in the Treaties. The Directive 2004/38/EC (commonly known as the ‘Free Movement Directive’), provides further detail on the rights of entry and residence and is currently implemented in the UK through the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016.

The right of free movement allows EU citizens exercising Treaty rights, and their family members, to move and reside freely within the territory of the EU. Under free movement, EU citizens also enjoy equal treatment with domestic nationals in terms of access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax benefits.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Indefinite leave to remain is also known as settlement or ‘settled status’, and having this means that a person can stay in the UK without any time restrictions. Indefinite leave can lapse, if the holder stays outside the UK for a continuous period of more than two years.

Leave to Remain

A person who holds this immigration status has a time limit on his or her stay. In the context of this document, resident EU citizens granted this status under our proposed scheme would not be subject to further conditions, for example restrictions on employment or study.

Permanent Residence

Under EU law, permanent residence is the right to live permanently in the UK. This right can be gained by European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals and their family members. Permanent residence is automatically gained when an EEA or Swiss national has lived legally in the UK for, in most cases, five years as a ‘qualifying person’ under the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016. This means they have been exercising their Treaty rights, for example, through working or studying. This status is equivalent to having indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration Act 1971 (see above).

Permission to Stay in the UK

Permission to stay in the UK as described in this document means that a person has leave to enter or remain under the Immigration Act 1971.

Right to Reside

This is a term used specifically for EEA nationals or their family members. They have an initial right to reside for three months, and then can reside in the UK if they are qualified persons (exercising a Treaty right). Following five years’ residence in the UK in accordance with the EEA regulations, they automatically acquire a permanent right to reside.

UK Nationals

A UK national is the term referred to in this document to describe those people who are regarded as UK nationals for EU law purposes. The term ‘United Kingdom national’ is not defined in the nationality law of the United Kingdom. However, the UK has made various declarations setting out the definition of its nationals for Community/EU law purposes. As of the declaration made by the United Kingdom in 1982 (OJ C 23), the term ‘UK national’ generally when used for EU purposes is ‘to be understood to refer to: a) British citizens, b) Persons who are British subjects by virtue of Part IV of the British Nationality Act 1981 and who have the right of abode in the United Kingdom and are therefore exempt from United Kingdom immigration control, and c) British Dependent Territories citizens who acquire their citizenship from a connection with Gibraltar’. The UK affirmed this definition in a further declaration annexed to the Final Act of the Intergovernmental Conference which Adopted the Treaty of Lisbon (OJ 2010 C 83/335), with the exception of an update so that the reference to ‘British Dependent Territories Citizens’ (as referenced above at point c) should be read as meaning ‘British overseas territories citizens’.

UK-Insured Individual

An individual who is subject to the legislation of the UK under social security coordination rules. For the purpose of healthcare, it is the member state responsible for covering an entitled individual’s healthcare when they move/travel around the EU.

via safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK

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Posts on Naturalisation and British Citizenship:

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  3. British Citizenship Application under Section 6 of 1981 Act
  4. British Citizenship Grants by Previous Country of Nationality
  5. British Citizenship, Naturalisation, Registration Types & Grants
  6. Full Capacity Requirement for British Citizenship
  7. British Citizenship Refusal Rate
  8. British Citizenship Reasons for Rejection

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