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UK Right of Abode

Right of abode allows for exemption from UK immigration controls. The right of abode is an immigration status which means a person is free to live in, work in, enter, and leave the UK without being subject to immigration controls. A person with the right of abode does not need a visa to enter the UK and there are no limits on the length of time they can spend in the UK.

If you’re interested in learning more about the UK right of abode or would like to ask other questions about how you can immigrate to the UK, reach out to trusted immigration advisers today. You may call Immigration Advice Service on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.


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Overview of UK Right of Abode

Right of abode allows you to work or live in the UK without the need for a visa to come to the UK or the amount of time you can spend in the country. The origins of the right of abode stem from the British Nationality Act 1948.

Individuals who have the right of abode in the UK may enjoy rights and privileges such as unconditional right to enter, work, study, and live in the UK. In addition to this, they can use the UK/EEA/Switzerland immigration channels. They may also benefit from the right to vote and stand for public office, and be entitled to apply for social security and welfare benefits in the UK.

Eligibility Requirements for UK Right of Abode

You can get right of abode through your parents if the following applies to you:

  • Have a parent that was born in the UK and a citizen of the UK and colonies when you were born or adopted.
  • You were a Commonwealth citizen on 31 December 1982
  • Did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen after 31 December 1982

It is important to consider that the right of abode can be revoked, restricted, or taken away if:

  • It is found that you don’t have sufficient evidence of a right of abode in the UK
  • You have another passport with a valid certificate of entitlement
  • You are married to a polygamous person with the right of abode and another wife has already been given a certificate of entitlement.
  • An order was made to take away your right of abode

Someone with a right of abode may still be subject to checks to make sure that they actually have the right to be in the UK through the UK Right of Abode.

UK Right of Abode Eligibility Requirements for British Citizens and the Windrush Generation

What counts as a legitimate “good reason” for missing your visa’s expiration date is covered by Home Office guidance and you must be able to support your claim with proof.

UK Right of Abode Eligibility Requirements for British Citizens

British citizens automatically get right of abode in the UK. Commonwealth citizens may also have the right of abode, depending on the commonwealth nation they are from.

Eligibility of Individuals from the Windrush Generation for UK Right of Abode

Those from the Windrush generation can meet the requirements of right of abode in the UK but a separate application process may need to be used. The process is known as the Windrush Scheme.

Contact us if you are looking to establish your permanent residency in the United Kingdom.

Right of Abode Eligibility Requirements for Citizens from Commonwealth Countries

A citizen from a Commonwealth country that is listed in Schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981 may be eligible for UK right of abode. Even with a Commonwealth country listed in Schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981, if an individual’s Commonwealth country was not part of the Commonwealth by 31 December 1982 or left it after that date, they won’t have right of abode. This may be the case despite other requirements for right of abode being met.

An example of how one can be ineligible even when from a Commonwealth country can be found when Pakistan and South Africa as Commonwealth countries left the Commonwealth in 1972 and 1961 respectively. They rejoined the Commonwealth in 1989 and 1994. Despite rejoining, this did not establish the claims of their citizens for the right of abode in the UK. There are exceptions to this, however.

Zimbabwe and Gambia left the Commonwealth in 2003 and 2013 but for nationality purposes, they are still on the list of Commonwealth countries in Schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981.

It’s not common for citizens from Commonwealth countries to have the right of abode in the UK as their parents should have been a citizen of UK and Colonies and the parent must have been born in the UK.

Requirements for People from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

You can apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme if you or your family started living in the UK by 31 December 2020. While the deadline for applications was 30 June 2021 for most people, you may still be able to apply if:

  • Reasonable grounds for not being able to apply by 30 June 2021
  • You have a later deadline

Irish citizens don’t have to make applications for visas or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

UK Right of Abode Eligibility Requirements for Married Applicants

Right of abode through marriage is possible in limited circumstances. You can get right of abode if you’re a female Commonwealth citizen who has been married to someone with right of abode before 1 January 1983 and you did not stop being a commonwealth citizen after 31 December 1982.

You could still get right of abode even if you don’t meet the above requirements. This is possible if you entered the UK while married before August 1 1988 and if you’ve been in the UK since your marriage.

It’s unlikely for one to get right of abode if the person they were married to someone who already had a living wife or widow who is in the UK or has been in the UK since the marriage.

What Documents Do I Need to Provide?

Documents that need to be provided to get approval of UK right of abode include:

  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Two photographs of yourself taken no more than 6 months before the date of your application
  • Specific evidence that shows how, based on your unique circumstances, you obtained right of abode in UK
  • Certificate of entitlement

As a British Citizen, you will need to show proof of your status with your British passport.

Other ways you can prove your right of abode in UK provide :

  • A UK passport that describes you as a British subject with the right of abode in UK
  • Certificate of entitlement inside your passport or travel document

Our team of experienced immigration professionals have in-depth knowledge of the UK Right of Abode application process.

Certificate of Entitlement

The certificate of entitlement is a document placed in your passport that proves you have the right of abode in the UK. If you don’t have a British passport to prove you are a British citizen with the right of abode in the UK, you will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement for work and immigration purposes.

To get a certificate of entitlement, you will need to visit the Gov.UK website where you can make an application using a Form ROA. The form is only available to those applying for the certification from within the UK. If you’re applying from outside of the UK for the certificate, you will be able to make an application using an online form.

What are the Fees and Processing Times for UK Right of Abode?

Certificate of entitlement in the UK can cost £372. The cost of applying for a certificate of entitlement from outside of the UK is £388.

An application for a certificate of entitlement may be decided on in weeks. After you attend your interview at the visa application center, you may receive a decision in 3 – 8 weeks.

What Happens After Getting UK Right of Abode?

After an application for right of abode is approved, the certificate of entitlement gets placed in your passport or travel document. The right of abode, along with the certificate of entitlement last indefinitely. With the right of abode, you will be able to live and work in the UK without any immigration restrictions. There won’t be a limit on how long you can stay in the UK and you won’t need a visa to enter the UK.

The Home Secretary can revoke the right of abode of a non-British citizen without prior notification. In such cases, the right of appeal is limited. You may be asked to show your passport to prove you have right of abode when entering the UK. You could be refused entry to the UK if you are not able to provide this.

How can IAS Help?

If you are looking to apply for UK right of abode, it is critical for you to seek the help of expert immigration advisers. This can help to reduce the amount of delays and challenges you could face in making the application.

While some people may find it straightforward to get right of abode in the UK, other people have had to spend much more time than expected not only trying to understand the right of abode requirements but also trying to get the documents and authorisation needed to make the move to the UK.

IAS specialises in UK immigration laws. Its teams of experts have wide ranges of experiences in helping people solve their immigration challenges. With IAS, your application for right of abode can be submitted without difficulties that many face when they attempt the application on their own.

If you are interested in getting more information about our immigration services and how we can help you, please call us on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online today.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Someone who does not have right of abode may only live in, and come and go into and from, the country with permission. According to the law on right of abode, those who don’t have the right could live, work, and settle in the UK by permission.

Getting settled status does not mean one has the right of abode in the UK. Since the EU settlement scheme was launched, the labels “settled status” and “pre-settled status” have been used instead of “leave”. The informal label of “settled status” is informal for limited leave to remain.

Citizenship is not the same as the right of residence. Laws on right of abode excluded some commonwealth citizens in the United Kingdom with the right of abode from British citizenship.

Since 2008, the certificate has to be endorsed in a current passport. The certificate of entitlement is valid for the period the passport is valid. This makes it advisable to apply for a certificate of entitlement using a passport that will be valid for a long duration of time.

Your certificate of entitlement can be renewed through a fresh application to the Home Office or UK High Commission or Embassy. You would need to submit evidence to support your claim to right of abode, regardless of whether a certificate was previously provided to you.

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