Losing British Citizenship Could get Easier
Immigration solicitors take a look at The Nationality and Borders Bill
Unless you are a British citizenship lawyer you probably have not been studying the passage of The Nationality and Borders Bill through parliament. If the Bill becomes law in its current form, then losing British citizenship could get easier. Our immigration solicitors look at the proposed change in the law on losing British citizenship and explains why we should all be interested.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and British Citizenship Lawyers
Changes to losing British citizenship
Under The Nationality and Borders Bill there is a new provision that says a person losing their British citizenship will not need to be notified of their loss of nationality if:
- It is not reasonably practicable to tell them or
- It is in the interests of national security to not give notice or
- It is in the interests of the relationship between the UK and another country to not give notice or
- There are public interest reasons to not give notice.
British citizenship lawyers say that the power to deprive a person of their British citizenship is already a draconian measure and that it will be even more of a threat if British citizenship can be lost without advance notice.
Under the current laws, the Home Secretary has to give notice of the intention to remove British citizenship. All immigration solicitors accept that serving notice on someone at risk of losing British citizenship is not normally easy but the Home Secretary is under an obligation to at least attempt notice. For example, by attempting service at the person’s last known address or through family or a friend if they are known to be in contact with them.
If the clause in the Bill is not removed (or amended) then potentially a person who had been deprived of their British citizenship would only find out that they had lost their British citizenship if they attempted to return to the UK.
From the Home Office point of view, amending the notice requirements on deprivation of British citizenship makes sense. That is because at present if the Home Secretary exercises discretion and removes a person’s British citizenship the decision can be challenged, initially on the basis of failure to give proper written notice of the intention to deprive the person of British citizenship. The court has ruled that the current law and regulations mean that the Home Office has to at least attempt notice- the Home Secretary cannot decide to simply ignore the notice requirements.
If the changes to notice and losing British citizenship are brought into force, immigration solicitors question who will provide independent overview on whether, at the time the Home Secretary makes the decision that providing notice is not practicable, that the decision is a reasonable one to take. Furthermore, on what evidence will the decision be made that there are public interest reasons to give no notice to the person losing their British citizenship?
Are the changes to the notice requirements on loss of British citizenship important?
British citizenship lawyers believe that the changes on notice and losing British citizenship are important because once the principle has been established that notice can be waived if it is not practicable or in the public interest to give notice of a decision then will those changes creep into other areas where the state finds it inconvenient to notify a citizen of planned action.
Although loss of British citizenship only affects a tiny proportion of people each year, and the general UK public often has little sympathy for those British citizens at risk of loss of British citizenship, immigration solicitors are nonetheless concerned with the erosion of human rights about something as basic as being told that you are being deprived of your citizenship. In addition, once the person who has lost their British citizenship without notice finds out about the deprivation, how can they have a fair hearing over whether the deprivation of British citizenship without notice was a legitimate exercise of power if time has elapsed from the loss of British citizenship to the court proceedings because the former British citizen was not told that their citizenship had been taken away.
One of the general concerns about deprivation of British citizenship is that it further marginalises the person and shifts either a perceived or real risk of terrorist activity by that person to a third country who may not have the same degree of security measures to protect their own nationals from acts of terrorism committed by former British nationals who only have a tenuous link to the country where they can claim nationality rather than face statelessness. If deprivation of British citizenship can in future take place without notice then how will this affect the countries where these former British citizens can claim nationality?
These are difficult questions and there are no ready answers but certainly individual immigration solicitors who have studied The Nationality and Borders Bill are left feeling rather uncomfortable and asking what next?
It was Samuel Johnson who said ‘ The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good’. For clarity this is the writer Samuel Johnson from the 1700s , and so far as we are aware, he was no relation to Stanley or Boris Johnson. The quote may be old but it is still true today as those at risk of losing British citizenship have few advocates willing to ask unpopular and difficult questions about the inclusion of the notice provisions in The Nationality and Borders Bill. However, it is important that what is meant to be an added protection to the UK in The Nationality and Borders Bill does not make some sections of UK society feel more unwanted and marginalised and that these questions are asked.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and British citizenship Lawyers