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There are a number of routes for children to apply for British citizenship. Some routes give children a right under British nationality law to apply and be registered as British citizens. These are entitlements.
Other routes allow children to be granted citizenship on the decision of the Home Secretary. In these cases, applications must show that the child meets existing criteria that the Home Secretary has already agreed should allow children to be registered as British. Or, in other cases, they should demonstrate that it would be right for the Home Secretary exceptionally to allow a child to be registered as a British citizen because of the compelling nature of the child’s circumstances. These are at the Home Secretary’s discretion.
Who qualifies for registration?
Children must be under 18 years old when the application is made. Once they reach the age of 18 they must apply for British citizenship as adults, either by registration if they have an entitlement, or by naturalisation.
If under 18, the child can register if they:
- are born in the UK to parent(s) who became British after their birth
- are born in the UK to parent(s) who became settled (indefinite leave to remain or settled status) in the UK after their birth; or
- are born in the UK, or qualifying territory, to parents one of whom is a member of the British armed forces; or
- are born in the UK and have lived there for the first ten years of their life; or
- are born abroad to parents who are British by descent and have lived in the UK or a British overseas territory for at least three years before the time of the child’s birth; or
- are born abroad to parents who are British by descent but are now living in the UK or a British overseas territory.
Is there a cost for children to register as British citizens?
Yes, there is a fee. Previously, it cost £1012 for a child to register as a British citizenship, but this fee was ruled unlawful. As a consequence, the prices are set to be lowered to the administrative cost of the application. This will probably be about £300-£350, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
Can adults register as British nationals?
In very limited circumstances, adults can be entitled to British citizenship by registration as well. These circumstances are:
- Those born overseas to British mothers before 1983 (when such women were able to pass their nationality to their children) can register as British irrespective of where they were born. Applications are made on form UKM.
- British Nationals (Overseas) can be registered as British citizens if they do not hold any other citizenship or nationality.
- Illegitimate children born between 1 January 1983 and 30 June 2006 and who would have been British has their mother been married to their father at the time of their birth.
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