The loss of British citizenship

By Oshin Shahiean, managing partner at OTS Solicitors   
 
There is a lot of debate in the press on the politics of whether it is right to deprive a nineteen year old of her British Citizenship. The home secretary has made the decision to deprive Shamima Begum, who left London to journey to Syria four years ago to marry an Islamic State fighter, of her British Citizenship
 
Shamima Begum’s case raises many interesting legal and political debates; not least, the dangers of those involved in Immigration cases and deprivation of British Citizenship cases speaking directly to the media. Her case shows how the tide of public perception can turn so easily from naïve child victim to high risk adult.  
 
As a London Immigration solicitor, it is my job to focus on the application of UK immigration law when helping those faced with the prospect of losing their British Citizenship rather than becoming embroiled in the politics of UK Immigration policy. 
 
The home secretary has said that the power to remove British Citizenship in cases of citizens linked to terrorism and serious crime was used 150 times since 2010. The use of the power of deprivation of British Citizenship is on the rise with the Guardian newspaper reporting that the deprivation of citizenship power was used against 104 British citizens in 2017 alone. Those statistics show a need for the best London immigration solicitors to use both UK immigration law and international law to help those at risk of losing their British Citizenship.   
 
How can OTS Solicitors help? 
 
OTS Solicitors are specialist in Immigration law matters and recommended for Immigration law in the Legal 500. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law. 
 
For advice on challenging the loss of British Citizenship or for advice on any aspect of British Citizenship and naturalisation applications please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors.
 
The reported facts of the Shamima Begum case
 
The facts of Shamima Begum’s case will no doubt be closely scrutinised in the planned court challenge to the loss of her British Citizenship but what is not in dispute is that she is a British citizen of Bangladeshi heritage who is living with her son in a refugee camp in northern Syria. 
 
Shamima Begum is not the first and nor will she be the last whose right to retain her British Citizenship is impacted by her family heritage. Whilst she says that, she does not have a Bangladeshi passport and has never even been to the country, the legal question is whether by depriving her of British Citizenship she would become stateless.
 
Statelessness and loss of British Citizenship 
 
top London immigration solicitors advise that it is illegal under international law to deprive someone of their nationality if to do so would leave that person stateless.
 
Bangladeshi law and citizenship by descent
 
The case of Shamima Begum emphasises the need for the top London immigration solicitors to have the resources and contacts to secure international Immigration law advice quickly on citizenship rights across the world. That is because every individual’s loss of British Citizenship case rests on the individual’s personal circumstances, international law and specific country law on citizenship. 
 
According to Bangladeshi law, there is a right of “citizenship by descent” to anyone born to a Bangladeshi parent. Bangladeshi law reportedly states that a citizen by descent automatically has Bangladeshi citizenship on birth even if they or their family do not take any active steps, such as applying for a Bangladeshi passport or even visiting the country of their heritage. However, one quirk of Bangladeshi law is that if a citizen by descent does not make an active effort to retain their Bangladeshi citizenship, it lapses when they reach the age of twenty-one.
 
Bangladeshi law and recent UK Immigration appeal cases
 
In the most recent UK immigration law case on loss of British Citizenship for a person of Bangladeshi heritage, the special Immigration appeals commission ruled in E3& N3 (Exclusion: Preliminary issue) [2018] UKSIAC SC_146_2017 that two terror suspects of Bangladeshi heritage, codenamed E3 and N3, were not dual nationals. As a result, the commission concluded they would be rendered stateless by loss of British Citizenship. That decision was made because, unlike Shamima Begum at age nineteen, the two terror suspects were over twenty-one and under Bangladeshi law, they had lost their ability to acquire Bangladeshi citizenship through heritage because they had not taken any active steps to retain it. The government is appealing against the decision. 
 
The best London immigration solicitors will argue that it is bizarre that a nineteen year old is at greater risk of loss of British Citizenship by virtue of their youth than someone over the age of twenty-one, purely because of the intricacies of Bangladeshi citizenship law.  
 
A person’s right to retain British Citizenship can be impacted by their parent’s decision on their behalf as to whether active steps were taken to secure dual nationality. For many this leaves a sense of unease that for those of Bangladeshi heritage loss of British Citizenship can come down to parental decisions or the individual’s age.
 
Who can lose British Citizenship?
 
The power to deprive UK citizens of their British Citizenship can normally only be used against citizens who are or who have the resources to become nationals of another country and who will therefore not be rendered stateless by the loss of their British Citizenship.
 
Critics of the amended British nationality Act argue that the Act is discriminatory. They contend that why should two individuals who have committed the same terror offences face different outcomes, one will retain his or her British Citizenship and the other could be forced to rely on citizenship with a country that they have no links to, having been born and brought up in the UK. 
 
What are the rules on revoking British Citizenship?
 
Under section 40 of the amended British nationality Act 1981, the home secretary has the power to deprive a person of British Citizenship if: 
• The loss of citizenship is conducive to the public good, and would not make the person stateless;
• The citizen obtained British Citizenship through registration or naturalisation, and the home secretary is satisfied that British Citizenship was obtained by fraud, false representation or the concealment of a material fact. Deprivation of citizenship is permissible even if the British citizen would be left stateless.
• The citizen obtained British Citizenship through naturalisation, and the home secretary thinks deprivation of British Citizenship is conducive to the public good. This has to be because the citizen conducted himself or herself in a manner that is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK and the home secretary has reasonable grounds to believe that the British citizen is able to become a national of another country under its laws. 
 
The best London immigration solicitors state that Shamima Begum’s appeal against the loss of her British Citizenship is not just limited to the statelessness argument. She can also argue that the decision is disproportionate and that there were less punitive measures available to achieve the objective of safeguarding national security.
 
Loss of British Citizenship and the exercise of discretion 
 
The top London immigration solicitors advise that the home office has to follow its nationality guidance when making a decision to deprive a citizen of their British Citizenship. The home office nationality guidance states that the caseworker should consider whether the loss of British Citizenship is a balanced and reasonable step to take, taking into account the seriousness of the fraud, misrepresentation or concealment, the level of evidence, and what information was available to at the time of consideration. 
 
Loss of British Citizenship and the meaning of conducive to the public good
 
The best London immigration solicitors advise that home office guidance states that  “conducive to public good” means ‘’depriving in the public interest on the grounds of involvement in terrorism, espionage, serious organised crime, war crimes or unacceptable behaviours’’.
 
Right of appeal against the decision to deprive a citizen of British Citizenship 
 
The top London immigration solicitors advise that there is a right of appeal against a notice of a British Citizenship deprivation order. An appeal can be made to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration & asylum Chamber) on the legality and the merits of the decision.
 
The appeal has to be made to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) where the home secretary considers that the information relied on to make the deprivation of British Citizenship order should not be made public.
 
 
In the opinion of the best London immigration solicitors, the case of Shamima Begum will raise many Human Rights issues. Her new born baby is a British citizen. He is entitled to come to the UK.  However if he is separated from his mother could this result in a breach of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to family life.
 
How can OTS Solicitors help?
 
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London. OTS Solicitors are recommended for Immigration law in the leading legal directory of solicitors, the Legal 500. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law.
 
For advice on challenging loss of British Citizenship or for information on British Citizenship and naturalisation applications and refusals or any other 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.
 

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