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Giving up British Citizenship

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Giving up your British citizenship isn’t a step to be taken lightly. An immigration solicitor will want to ask why, to double check that the renunciation application is in your best interests and that you fully understand the impact of renouncing your British nationality on your ability to remain in the UK or to return to the UK in future.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and British Citizenship Lawyers

For advice on renouncing British citizenship and immigration status call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Giving up British nationality 

British nationality is for life but you can choose to give it up. If you want to end your British citizenship it is referred to as ‘renunciation of British citizenship’,

Once you have lost your British citizenship it isn’t always easy to get it back so expect your British citizenship solicitors to doublecheck why you want to take this step.

There can be many reasons why you may want to give up your British citizenship, including political, personal and financial. A British citizenship solicitor may want to check if there is a middle ground. For example:

  • Securing immigration status in a second country – you could apply for a work visa or family visa in the country you want to live or work in. That immigration status will allow you to retain your British citizenship as you don’t lose it just because you have left the UK to live or work overseas or
  • Dual nationality – so you retain your British citizenship but also take on a second nationality. Once you are sure about your future plans you can renounce your British nationality at that stage, if there is a reason to do so, such as tax. Not all countries allow for dual nationality but the UK does do so

How do you lose British citizenship?

If you want to lose your British nationality you will need to take a positive step as British citizenship doesn’t just lapse. You will need to make an application to the Home Office. If you are successful the Home Office will issue you with a declaration of renunciation. This is official proof that you are no longer a British citizen.

What types of British citizenship can you renounce?

There are various types of British citizenship that you can apply to renounce, such as:

  • Standard British citizenship or
  • BNO citizenship or British national (overseas) status or
  • British overseas territories citizenship

Whatever type of British citizenship you currently hold its best to get immigration advice on your options before you make long term decisions that could affect your ability to remain living in the UK or to secure entry clearance to return. That’s because whilst you may be clear about your plans, those plans could change over time.

Can anyone give up their British citizenship?

You can give up your British citizenship if you meet the eligibility criteria but your decision won't affect the British citizenship status of other members of your family. However, if you renounce British citizenship this will impact on the ability of future children to acquire British citizenship.

You can apply for a declaration of renunciation if you are:

  • Age 18 or over or under 18 but married and
  • Have capacity to make the decision (of sound mind) unless the application is deemed to be in your best interests and
  • You already have another nationality or you can apply for another citizenship after you have lost your British citizenship (so you won't be stateless)

You can give up your British citizenship before you get a new nationality but what happens if things go wrong and your new nationality application is refused? To avoid people being left stateless the rules say that the certificate  of renunciation is registered on the basis that you will obtain another citizenship or nationality and if you don’t do so within six months from the date of registration, you are treated as if you retained your original status.

Documents needed to renounce British citizenship

If you want to proceed with an application for a renunciation certificate you will need:

  • Your birth certificate - to prove your age
  • Your marriage certificate - if you are under 18
  • Evidence you are a British citizen – such as your passport
  • Evidence that you have another nationality or that you can secure nationality of another country once you have lost your British nationality

Living in the UK after renouncing British citizenship

If you don’t want to be a British citizen then it is your right to make a renunciation application if you meet the eligibility criteria. However, your right to live in the UK will be affected if you give up British nationality.

You may be assuming that if you were granted British citizenship after entering the UK on a work visa or family visa and you then secured indefinite leave to remain, that you can revert to indefinite leave to remain status when you lose your British nationality. That isn’t how the immigration rules work.

Home Office guidance confirms that if you lose your British citizenship then your previous indefinite leave to remain status doesn’t revive. Instead, you are back to square one if you want to remain in the UK or later decide to return to the UK. That means you will be subject to UK immigration controls and you will need a visa and to meet eligibility criteria under the UK points based immigration system.

The decision to renounce British citizenship should therefore only be made once you have carefully considered the short and long term consequences for you and your family and your alternative options, such as dual nationality.

In addition, you should not assume that just because you meet the eligibility criteria for a UK visa now that you will meet the eligibility criteria at a time when you decide that you want to return to the UK to live. For example, the Home Office recently closed the investor route to new applicants and changed the intra company transfer visa to the senior or specialist worker visa under the new global business mobility visa.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and British Citizenship Lawyers

For advice on immigration law call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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