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The proposed changes to the UK Nationality law

30 April 2021 – Just useful and interesting UK & EEA Immigration Law news and updates from the Legal Centre – Open 7 days a week - www.legalcentre.org - +44(0)3300010342, +44(0)7791145923 (WhatsApp/Viber)

>>> The proposed changes to the UK Nationality law: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-plan-for-immigration

The New Plan for Immigration Policy Statement of March 2021 (the New Plan) contains proposals to make significant changes to immigration and nationality law and policy. The most interesting are the proposals set out in Chapter 3, which concern changes to British nationality law, in the hope of enabling affected people and organisations to respond constructively to the consultation. The consultation closes on 6 May 2021.

Many of the proposals in this area are welcome, particularly those affecting British Overseas Territories Citizens and the Windrush Generation. Some others are far more troubling. Of particular concern is the proposal to introduce new and more onerous requirements for children born in the UK as stateless to register as British citizens.

Mothers who could not pass on their citizenship & Fathers who could not pass on their citizenship

Proposed change


What is being proposed is a similar route for the children of BOTC mothers as has been provided within section 4C of the 1981 Act for the children of British citizens. It also appears that the intention is to give those who are eligible the retrospective benefit of section 3 of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002 by enabling them to become BOTCs and British citizens.

If the process introduced is similar to the process for applicants under section 4C then the only fee payable should be a ceremony fee but it is also likely that the nationality granted will be BOTC by descent and British Citizenship by descent so as to avoid putting applicants in a better position than if there had been no discrimination.

In terms of the children of unmarried fathers, it again appears that the intention is to introduce the equivalent of sections 4E to 4J of the 1981 Act for BOTCs who will further be eligible to become British citizens as well as BOTCs.

Children of fathers who are not the husband of their mothers


Proposed change


The proposed change looks likely to be an amendment to the underlying legislation in order to create a specific registration route for children whose mothers were married (or in a civil partnership) but not to the child’s biological fathers when the child was born.

It seems unlikely that there will be any change to the definition of “father” within section 50(9A) and these children will continue to be unable to acquire British citizenship automatically at birth.

Discretionary adult registration route

Proposed change


The proposal is to introduce a new discretionary adult registration route. It is hoped that this additional discretion will enable the Secretary of State, in appropriate cases to take a pragmatic approach that prevents a person from having their lives upended when there is no public interest in that course of action.

Naturalisation for Windrush victims

Proposed change


The proposed change is to give the Secretary of State the power to waive the residence requirements, including the five-year requirement, where people have been unable to return to the UK through no fault of their own.

The precise nature of the amendment and the circumstances in which the power will be exercised are not yet known, however it would be very welcome if this power were used to grant British citizenship to those Returning Residents who have returned under Windrush Scheme.

It is hoped that this amendment will not be restrictive and will also assist a wider range of people who have compelling reasons why they cannot meet the residence requirement where it would still be just to grant them naturalisation at an earlier stage.

Registration of stateless children

Proposed change


It is anticipated that the proposal will involve bringing nationality law into line with existing immigration rules for stateless children who are seeking limited leave to remain in the UK. The requirements for limited leave to remain as a stateless person are set out at paragraph 403 of the Immigration Rules and include a requirement for children to provide evidence that they have attempted to register their birth with the relevant authorities but have been unable to do so (and that they have not been able to obtain an alternative nationality).


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