Children younger than 18 years old who don’t become British citizens automatically after birth can secure British citizenship through the way of entitlement or discretion under section 3 (1) of the British Nationality Act 1981. Discretion allows the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make decisions on the basis of each applicant’s specific circumstances.
Who Can Be Registered As A British Citizen?
While children cannot be naturalized for British citizenship, they can still be registered as British citizens by way of entitlement or discretion. Let’s talk about the requirements a child must fulfill to be registered as a British citizen;
- Either of the child’s parents should be British by descent when the child was born in the UK.
- Similarly, the child’s father or mother should be British by any means, whether the child was born in the UK or in another country, to apply for registration as a British citizen.
- If a child born outside the UK has a parent who is British by descent but was born outside the UK, then both of them must have lived in the UK for 3 years without being away for 270 days or more.
Registering A Child Born In The UK For British Citizenship
When it comes to registering a child born in the UK as a British citizen, it must be done before the child’s 18th birthday.
According to Section 1 (4) of the British Nationality Act 1981, a child who was born in the UK and has lived there until the age of 10 can go for registration as a British citizen before or after the age of 10. Apart from having a good character, the child must not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days in a year in the 10-year period while living in the UK since birth.
On the other hand, children who don’t meet the criteria discussed here can register by way of discretion. Here’s a checklist the Home Office uses to make decisions about granting citizenship to a child by way of discretion.
- Parent’s consent
- Child’s future intentions
- Child’s character
- The total time the child has spent living in the UK
- Child’s interests
- The citizenship and immigration status of the parents of the child
Registering An Adopted Child For British Citizenship
A child who is adopted by a British citizen in the UK automatically becomes a British citizen if the adoption was done under Hague Convention. This is because the British Nationality Act 1981 doesn’t recognize other adoptions.
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