The United Kingdom is one of the countries that allow dual citizenship for its nationals, enabling many Britons to have multiple passports at the same time. This means a foreign national could become a British without losing their original citizenship. However, the persons interested in obtaining British citizenship must consult their home countries’ nationality laws to see whether these allow the same privilege.
What Are the Advantages of Having British Dual Citizenship?
These are some of the benefits of holding British dual citizenship:
- You can live, study, and work in both the UK and your country of origin
- You can travel to both countries with no restrictions
- You can access both countries’ social service and healthcare systems
- You can participate in both countries’ elections
- You have the ability to be issued two passports, with a myriad of travel possibilities
- You enjoy diplomatic protection from both the UK and your other country
What Is the Master Nationality Rule?
The Master Nationality Rule is an international provision that guarantees there’ll be no conflict of nationality laws for people who hold two or more citizenships.
As a rule of thumb, countries (such as the UK) offer diplomatic protection to their nationals when they’re in a foreign country. However, suppose a person has dual citizenship and tries to claim diplomatic protection in the country whose nationality they also possess. In that case, the other State cannot provide this protection, as that would violate article 4 of the Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws 1930.
This does not mean that the consulates or embassies of both countries should stop treating you as a national whenever you are in a different country. Hence, if you are a national of countries A and B, you can ask for their protection whenever you are in country C.
Limitations on Multiple Citizenships
As said earlier, the UK doesn’t force you to relinquish your original nationality nor forbids you to obtain multiple others. The problem arises when the other country is the one enforcing the restrictions.
One iconic example of this is Japan. Japanese nationality law allows dual citizenship but only for people younger than 22. After reaching that age, dual citizenship holders must decide which nationality to retain.
You are also barred from holding multiple citizenships if you are a:
- British subject: If you have connections to Ireland and British India and were born before 1949. You may lose your British subject status upon acquiring a new citizenship
- British protected person: If you are connected with former territories under British control (protectorates, protected states, etc.) that were not fully incorporated as Crown dominions. Just as in the case of British subjects, you forfeit your British protected person status if you attain citizen status in another country.
- British Overseas citizen: If you have ties to former British colonies but not to the United Kingdom or its remaining overseas territories. You can only register for British citizenship as a British overseas citizen if you don’t possess another nationality.
How to Obtain UK Citizenship
Before you apply for British citizenship, you must first assess your particular situation. Preferably, you should get professional help from an immigration advisor, as British nationality laws are highly intricate to navigate, and a plethora of factors would have to be considered.
Let’s quickly summarise the circumstances that could make a person eligible for UK citizenship:
A Child Born in the UK to a British Citizen or Resident
A child born on British soil is not guaranteed British citizenship by that very fact. They should have been born in the UK to a parent who holds British citizenship or who has indefinite leave to remain or settled status.
If you’re a British national or resident with children under 18 who were born in the UK, you don’t need to register them. They will automatically be considered British citizens, and you can directly apply for their British passports, provided that you reached your status before their birth.
A Child Born Overseas to a British Parent
A child born to a British national overseas can be registered for British citizenship by descent in the event that they had a British parent or grandparent. British citizenship by descent is only passed down to one generation, meaning that second-generation descendants will not be eligible.
Generally speaking, you’re entitled to UK citizenship by naturalisation if you lived in the UK under an “eligible visa” and obtained indefinite leave to remain or settled status. You could opt for the 5-year rule if you arrived in the UK while holding a specific type of work visa or a family visa, albeit some visas allow for abbreviated timeframes (such as certain business visas).
After five continuous years, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain, granting you unlimited entry into the UK. After you get your ILR, you’d have to wait 12 months before you can lodge your citizenship application.
Among other prerequisites, you must:
- Have continuous residence in the UK, with no absences beyond 90 days in the previous year or 450 days during the last five years
- Show you have knowledge of the English language at a B1 level (not necessary if you are from a majorly English-speaking country)
- Pass the “Life in the UK” test
- Be of demonstrable good character
- Manifest your intention to make the UK your main place of residence
Civil Partnership or Marriage to a UK Citizen
This is a particular naturalisation route with specific timescale rules. In that sense, you’d have to ensure the following is true before applying.
- You’ve lived in the UK with your partner or spouse for three years or more
- You have ILR or “settled status” according to the EU Settlement Scheme (you won’t need to wait 12 months before requesting citizen status)
You’d likewise have to meet the other conditions set out for the ordinary naturalisation route, save for those concerning residency time (see above).
Your application for British citizenship could take around six months to get processed. In some situations, it may take longer depending on the flow of petitions submitted simultaneously and other administrative reasons.
If the Home Office asks you to provide further data or documentation, the processing times can be longer than usual.
Once it’s processed, you’ll be asked to make an appointment for the citizenship ceremony, in which you’ll receive your citizenship certificate. This certificate will permit you to request your British passport.