Naturalisation as a British citizen
Citizenship is one of those funny concepts, difficult for anyone who is not a top London Immigration solicitor to define, but we all know that citizenship is important. It helps define us and who we are. In the UK, citizenship is gained through:
• Birth; or
• Parentage; or
What does naturalisation mean?
If you apply to a country to become a naturalised citizen, then you become a citizen of the new country provided of course that you qualify for naturalisation under the particular countries’ rules. Unsurprisingly, every country has different criteria for eligibility for naturalisation and different procedures. That does not make it easy for anyone to navigate the laws on naturalisation.
The benefits of British naturalisation
If you successfully become a naturalised British citizen you will be able to:
• Apply for a British passport;
• Live in the UK free of Immigration controls and restrictions;
• Work in the UK without having to have a work visa or being subject to other forms of Immigration control save for the standard right to work checks that employers are obliged to carry out on all workers, including British citizens;
• Gain access to free National Health Service treatment;
• Vote in local and national elections.
The potential drawbacks of British naturalisation
If you become a British citizen through naturalisation you may either:
• Gain dual nationality as if you can elect to also retain your original nationality; or
• Automatically lose your original country of citizenship.
Whether you take British Citizenship or dual nationality will not necessarily be your decision. That is because some countries do not allow dual citizenship. That is why it is important to get the best London immigration solicitors advice on your options before you commit to British naturalisation, as you need to know the impact and consequences of acquiring British Citizenship or losing your country of origin citizenship.
If your country of origin does provide for dual citizenship then you should be able to retain a passport for your original country of citizenship as well as acquire a British passport. If you have dual citizenship and need help in the country where you hold the dual passport then then you will not be eligible for diplomatic help if you are living or travelling in the country where you hold dual nationality.
Some European Union citizens may wonder about their options, including naturalisation. In the fast-paced world of Brexit negotiations all options can seem worthwhile exploring, although the government has said that there will be no change in the current rights and status of EU citizens until 2021.
If you are a European national then if you apply for or have already been granted permanent residence status then your status as a permanent resident will not impact on your nationality. In other worlds you will keep your country of origin passport and will not become a British citizen.
However, if you are an EU citizen and you do want to become a British citizen then in order to meet current UK naturalisation criteria you would first have to secure permanent resident status before being eligible to apply for British naturalisation.
You may lose citizenship of your country of origin when applying for British Citizenship through naturalisation. It all depends on the rules of the country where you are a citizen. It is also speculated by top London immigration solicitors that EU countries might change their dual nationality options in light of the Brexit negotiations, potentially at some point in time leaving you with the starker choice of British Citizenship or retaining your EU citizenship, with no middle ground of dual nationality.
At the present time there are a number of countries that do not allow its citizens to acquire dual nationality through British naturalisation namely Estonia, Lithuania and Norway.
Do you qualify for naturalisation?
You will be eligible to apply for British naturalisation if:
• You have lived in the UK for the past 5 years ;and
• You have obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain for the last 12 months; or
• You are the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen and you have lived in the UK for the last 3 years and if you are not from the EEA you have Indefinite Leave to Remain status and if you are from the EEA you have permanent residence; or
• You have a British parent ;
• You have another type of British nationality, i.e. from an overseas territory.
Renouncing British Citizenship
If you are a British citizen by birth or by naturalisation, you can elect to renounce or give up your British Citizenship. In the experience of top London immigration solicitors’, renunciation of British Citizenship normally occurs when someone wants to become a citizen of another country and that country, unlike the UK, does not allow for dual nationality.
The best London immigration solicitors would caution against renunciation of British Citizenship without first taking expert advice from a London Immigration solicitor because if you give up your British Citizenship you may lose the right to live in the UK and any children you might have in the future might not have British Citizenship. Renunciation of British Citizenship is therefore not a step to be taken lightly.
How OTS Solicitors can help
Whether you are considering applying for British Citizenship or thinking about renouncing your British Citizenship, it is sensible to get top London immigration solicitors' advice on your Immigration and citizenship options before making any final decisions.
OTS Solicitors are specialist in Immigration law matters. The firm is recommended for Immigration law in the Legal 500. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law. For more information on naturalisation and Immigration law or any alternative aspect of personal or business immigration law, please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.