British dual nationality
Dual nationality, also referred to as dual citizenship, is when someone holds the nationality of two countries at the same time. The UK government does allow British citizens to hold dual nationality. This means that if you are an overseas national who naturalised as a British citizen you can still retain your original nationality as well. It also means that British citizens who wish to apply for citizenship in another country can retain their British citizenship by holding dual nationality.
Although the UK does allow dual nationality, many countries do not and you cannot hold dual nationality unless both countries allow it, some countries require you to renounce your citizenship if you wish to become a citizen of a new country. For this reason, it’s important that you check the dual nationality rules in the other country.
You do not need to apply for dual citizenship, if both countries allow it you will automatically hold dual nationality once you acquire UK citizenship or another foreign citizenship if you are already a UK citizen.
What are the benefits of dual nationality?
There are many benefits to dual British nationality. As a British citizen you will have the same rights as all other UK nationals. This includes the right to vote in UK elections, the right to stand for office and the right to a British passport. The British passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world, that can be used to travel freely in and out of the country.
You will also be able to live, work and study in the UK permanently free from immigration restrictions. As a dual citizen you will also get the benefits of your other citizenship, giving you greater freedom when it comes to where you live and work.
It’s worth noting however that becoming a dual citizen comes with some duties. You will still be required to carry out the responsibilities of a citizen from both places. For example, British-American dual citizens are still required to pay American taxes, even if living in the UK.
How to acquire British citizenship
The most common way for overseas nationals to acquire UK citizenship is through a process called naturalisation. To be eligible for naturalisation you usually must have lived in the UK for at least 5 years. As well as this you must:
- Have held Indefinite Leave to Remain or another form of settled status for at least 12 months
- Passed the Life in the UK Test
- Demonstrate a knowledge of the English language
- Meet the good character requirement
- Be over the age of 18
- Have not spent more than 450 days outside of the UK during your 5 years of continuous residence
There are two ways that you can apply for naturalisation, you can either make the application yourself or have an agent such as an immigration lawyer submit an application on your behalf. The application process is complex, and even the smallest mistake could result in your application being refused. You will need to fill in the application form and submit a substantial portfolio of supporting evidence to prove that you meet the requirements.
If you are successfully granted citizenship you must attend a British citizenship ceremony. There is no separate application to become a dual citizen, if your home country allows you to retain your citizenship then you will automatically be a dual British citizen.
Other routes to British citizenship
As well as naturalisation, there are several other routes to British citizenship. These include Citizenship by birth, descent and marriage.
Citizenship by marriage is a form of naturalisation, but instead of being required to have 5 years of continuous residence in the UK you are only required to have 3 years. To be eligible for citizenship by marriage you must be able to prove that you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen. As well as this you must be able to meet the other naturalisation requirements including demonstrating a knowledge of the English language, meeting the good character requirement and holding Indefinite Leave to Remain. If applying for citizenship by marriage you don’t have to have held ILR for 12 months, you can apply as soon as you have obtained ILR status.
If you were born in the UK you could be eligible for British citizenship by birth, your eligibility depends on several factors including when you were born, whether your parents were British citizens or had settled status at the time of your birth and how long you have lived in the UK for. If you were born in the UK and one of your parents was a British citizen at the time of your birth then you could automatically be a British citizen. You could also be eligible to register for British citizenship if you were born in the UK and spent the first 10 years of your life living here.
If you were born outside of the UK but one of more of your parents is a British citizen. You could also claim citizenship by double descent if you have a grandparent who is a British citizen.
How can IAS help?
Citizenship and nationality law is a complex subject that can be difficult to understand. Our immigration lawyers are trained in all areas of immigration law and are experienced with handling citizenship and nationality issues. If you want to know more about dual nationality or your British citizenship options then our lawyers are here to help.
Our immigration lawyers can offer you professional advice about your dual nationality and British citizenship options. During an advice session one of our immigration experts can assess your eligibility for British nationality and can let you know whether dual nationality is permitted in the country of your existing citizenship.
Our lawyers can then help you to obtain dual citizenship by assisting you with your application to become a British citizen. To get started on your application today speak to our team on 0333 305 9375.
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