Proposed changes to UK citizenship laws

On 14 July 2009 the UKBA announced that the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill is being considered by Parliament. The Government in the bill intends to make a number of changes to British nationality law.

One change is to amend the British Nationality Act 1981 so that a person born in the United Kingdom to a parent in the armed forces will be a British citizen. This currently happens anyway; The change will clarify the situation further.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill will insert a new section 4D into the British Nationality Act 1981. It will then be possible for Children born overseas to those in the armed forces to be registered as British citizens under the following circumstances:

  • The child was born to a Foreign and Commonwealth member of the United Kingdom armed forces
  • AND
  • The parent was serving outside the United Kingdom at the time of birth
  • AND
  • Both parents agree to the registration.

It is also the intention that changes will be made to section 3(2) of the British Nationality Act. Currently children of British citizens by descent can only be registered if an application is made within twelve months of the birth; six years if allowed by the Home Secretary. The proposed changes will allow applications to be made any time before the child's 18th birthday.

Another change will allow British nationals (Overseas) to be registered under section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 if they do not hold any other citizenship or nationality. However, you do not qualify if you have done anything after 19 March 2009 that resulted in the loss of another nationality.

If you have a British mother currently you have a right to register as a British citizen under section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981 under the following circumstances:

  • If you were born between 7 February 1961 and 1 January 1983;
  • AND
  • You would have become a British citizen if women had been able to pass on citizenship in the same way as men at that time.

The intention of the Bill is to extend the provisions of section 4C to those born before 1961.

The Government also intends to make changes to the requirements for naturalisation, to introduce the concept of earned citizenship.