‘Descent’ or ‘Double-descent’ – An immigration route to British Citizenship

Shahid Azeem

21 September 2021

A person born overseas can claim ‘British Citizenship’ by ‘descent’ because of one or both parents’ British Citizenship. The applicant proves the eligibility with documentary evidence. The claimant can establish claim by proving ‘descent’ or ‘double-descent’ with supporting documents. The supporting documents should prove the immigration status of one or both parents. The application is sent to the Home Office. Each application of British Citizenship by descent is an individual case. The Home Office deals with the application on case-by-case basis according to the British nationality and immigration laws.

Generally, a British citizen is either a citizen by ‘descent’ or ‘otherwise than by descent’. A citizen ‘otherwise than by descent’ is a born, registered, naturalised, or adopted citizen. A citizen ‘otherwise than by descent’ can transfer British citizenship to children born outside the UK. A citizen by ‘descent’ is a British citizen who acquired citizenship right from parents. If the claim of the overseas born applicant is based on parents’ British citizenship, it is claim of British Citizenship by ‘descent’. British citizens by ‘descent’ and ‘other than by descent’ have most of the similar rights, for example, freedom from immigration restrictions, a UK Passport, and the right to vote in elections. However, if parents have acquired their citizenship by ‘descent’, they (‘citizens by descent’) cannot pass on their British citizenship to their children born outside the UK unless they were born to a parent (i.e., applicant’s grandparent) in Crown nominated or EU service. Simply, this passing on citizenship right was valid only for one generation, other than exceptions.  

Automatic Eligibility:

British citizenship by ‘descent’ is usually transferred automatically to the children born outside the UK. It also differs depending on when you were born and immigration status of your parents at that time. For example, situation one, if you were born on or after 1st July 2006, you can acquire British citizenship by ‘descent’ automatically if you were born overseas and at that time at least one of your parents was British citizen ‘otherwise than by descent’ (means, either born or adopted in the UK or obtained citizenship applying for it directly by own right) or working as a Crown servant; situation two, you were born overseas between 1983 and June 2006, you can be an automatic citizen by ‘descent’ if one of your parents was a British citizen ‘otherwise than by descent’ and other parent was not British, however, your parents must be married at the time; situation three, you were born overseas before 1983, you can be an automatic citizen by ‘descent’ if your father was a British and also a ‘citizen of the UK and Colonies’, married to your mother and able to pass on his citizenship right to you. If you do not have automatic right to British citizenship, you may be eligible for registration as a British citizen by ‘descent’ in certain circumstances.   

Eligibility By Registration:

You can be eligible to register, for example, you were born overseas before 1983, situation one, your (British) parents were not married at that time; situation two, your parents were married but your mother was British and your father was not British; situation three, your mother or father must be a ‘citizen of the UK and Colonies’, and they must have citizenship ‘otherwise than by descent’ unless they were working as a Crown servant. If you were born overseas between 1983 and June 2006, you can register for citizenship by descent if your father was not married to your mother, and your father must be British citizen ‘otherwise than by descent’ or working as a crown servant. If you were born overseas on or after 1st July 2006, you can qualify to register as a British citizen if, situation one, either you have lived in the UK with your parents, or situation two, your British parent lived in the UK before your birth or situation three, you were adopted overseas.

Double-Descent:

Some persons may be eligible to claim the British Citizenship by ‘double-descent’. It is applied on the basis that the applicant has British grandparent. The eligibility depends on when you were born and the nationality or immigration status of one or both grandparents and one or both parents.

You can be eligible for British citizenship by ‘double-descent’, if you were born after 1st January 1983: Either, you had a UK born grandfather who was in the Crown Service at the time of your parent’s birth or you or a parent were born in a former British Colony or your grandmother was British and your grandfather was not a British but was registered as a British citizen between February 2nd and December 31st, 1982.   

If you were born overseas before 1st January 1983, you can be eligible to claim British citizenship by ‘double-descent’ in a situation where your parent was born in a former British territory (excluding main Commonwealth countries of 1949) or your parent was registered as a British citizen or your parent was in a Crown Service or your father was born in the UK and your parents married before 1949 or your mother’s father (maternal grandfather) was born in the UK and you were born outside EEA.   

If you were born before 1949, you may claim British citizenship by ‘double-descent’ under certain circumstances: Either you and your parent were not in a Commonwealth country (may be born before 1915) or you or your parent were born in a former British territory (excluding 1949 Commonwealth countries), or your maternal grandparent was married to a British man before 1949.

Post Eligibility:

You can apply online or in the post anywhere in the world. When you apply, you may need to attend an appointment at UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre in your country or nearest to your residence for biometrics (photos and fingerprints). If ‘descent’ or ‘double-descent’ is proved, you may have to attend a British citizenship ceremony. you can apply for either British Passport or a letter validating your immigration status. However, a letter is not enough for your identification, traveling, and work purposes, and you may need a passport. If you feel that you have a valid claim of British Citizenship by ‘descent’ or ‘double-descent’, and you find nationality and immigration laws, rules, and regulations numerous and complex, our immigration consultants and lawyers can advise you on all stages of your application of British Citizenship by ‘descent’ or ‘double-descent’.

 

For assistance in any immigration and asylum matters, please contact our immigration team on 0203 5000 699 or e-mail us on info@morganhillsolicitors.com.
Shahid Azeem

Shahid Azeem

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