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British citizenship unlawfully nullified in 100s of cases

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British Citizenship lawyers will be shocked to see that the 10 years between 2007 and 2017 saw a dramatic peak in instances of nullification of British Citizenship – with a massive 176 cases occurring in 2013. Even more startling, it seems that most cases of nullification were unlawful – something that the Home Office admitted in December 2017. The Status Review Unit is now considering the decisions where nullification of British Citizenship was declared – it seems that in many cases, ‘deprivation of citizenship’ will be the outcome, in place of nullification.

Nullification of British Citizenship

Even some Immigration lawyers may be unfamiliar with this process of nullification of British Citizenship. It is a relatively obscure mechanism, involving a common law declaration when one person impersonates another in order to obtain British Citizenship. The result of a decision to nullify British Citizenship is that it is as if the individual was never British. It impacts on any family member who has obtained British Citizenship through the individual whose citizenship is nullified.

Deprivation of British Citizenship derives from section 40 of the British nationality Act 1981. While it has severe consequences for those affected, it does not have the same result as nullification.

Home Office action ‘unlawful’

It is not clear what prompted the spike in instances of nullification of British Citizenship in 2013 – but the Home Office activity has been recognised as unlawful. After all, deception is a ground for deprivation of British Citizenship as it is for nullification of British Citizenship. However, it has been suggested that the relative ease of declaring nullification, as opposed to the process of deprivation of British Citizenship, coupled with the fact that nullification of British Citizenship has no right of appeal, while deprivation of British Citizenship does, may have spurred on some over-zealous Home Office activity.

It will be interesting to see the results of the deliberations by the Status Review Unit. It is not known what that outcome may be – but as already mentioned, the suggestion is that many of those whose British Citizenship was nullified may find that this is substituted with deprivation of their British Citizenship from the relevant date. Although no longer having a right of abode in the UK, previous British Citizenship will not be ‘wiped out’ as would be the case under nullification.

If you have been affected by the Home Office’s use of nullification of British Citizenship or deprivation of British Citizenship and would like to discuss your situation with an experienced London Immigration lawyer, then call on 0203 959 9123 to make an appointment. OTS Solicitors are recommended in the Legal 500 for Immigration and Human Rights matters and we can advise on all aspects of Immigration law.

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