September 3, 2019

Multiple nationality and multiple citizenship (including dual nationality and dual citizenship)

British nationality law permits multiple nationality and multiple citizenship, including dual nationality and dual citizenship.

Multiple nationality and multiple citizenship explained

A British citizen who acquires citizenship of another country is not required to renounce their British nationality. Similarly, a foreign national who wishes to become a British citizen is not required to renounce their original nationality.

This means that a person can be a British citizen or national, and also be a citizen of other countries. They can hold dual nationality or dual citizenship.

Exceptions to multiple nationality and multiple citizenship

There are a few exceptions to the multiple nationality and multiple citizenship principle which depend on the type of British nationality held:

British subjects

Since 1 January 1983, a person loses their status as a British Subject if they acquire another citizenship or nationality. The exception to this is if the person is also a citizen of Ireland.

British protected persons

A British protected person will lose this status if they gain any other nationality or citizenship. This would generally be when the territory that was a Protected State became independent, and those with a connection to it acquired citizenship of that country.

British overseas citizens

A British Overseas citizen is only entitled to register as a British citizen if they do not hold any other citizenship or nationality.

Implications of multiple nationality and multiple citizenship

Not all countries permit multiple nationality or multiple citizenship, including dual nationality and dual citizenship.

If you are considering applying to naturalise as a British Citizen or applying to register as a British Citizen, it is important for to check whether this will have any impact on the nationality or citizenship(s) that you already hold.

If a British person holds citizenship of State A, which does not allow multiple citizenship, it may only recognise the person as holding citizenship of State A, ignoring the British citizenship. This has no impact on the person’s British citizenship in British nationality law.

Alternatively, if a person acquires British citizenship when they already hold citizenship of State A, State A may regard the person as having lost its citizenship.

A state that does not allow multiple citizenship may require a person to renounce all other citizenships before they can become its citizen. It is possible to apply to renounce British citizenship for this reason. This is an important decision and should not be taken without first seeking legal advice.

Holding multiple citizenship may come with a whole host of other consequences, such as tax liability, obligations relating to which passport to use, military service, and restrictions on holding public office. Under British nationality law, it also means that a person that acquired British citizenship otherwise than by naturalisation may be deprived of their British citizenship in certain circumstances as this would not render the person stateless.

The Master Nationality Rule

If a person holds multiple nationalities, the Master Nationality Rule governs the provision of diplomatic assistance in international law.

This rule means that the UK government will not provide diplomatic assistance to a person who is a British Citizen, when they are in a country whose citizenship the person also possesses. The UK government may decide to make informal representations but has no obligation to assist at all.

If the person is in a country whose citizenship they do not possess, the person can seek diplomatic assistance from the authorities of any other state they are a citizen of.

August 30, 2019

How to get married in the UK: Choosing the right visa for marriage

Choosing the right visa for marriage is a tricky question!

Making mistakes as to the visa application could cause the application to be refused or delayed, which could have an obviously devastating and expensive impact on your wedding.
Every year, thousands of people chose to get married in the UK, but have no intention of staying here

Whitin the Immigration Rules, there are a number of different options for individuals who are settled or British and who want to get married in the UK. But at a time when you are planning rings and venues, there is some sense in taking time to review the relevant immigration options to make sure that your dream day is possible. Therefore, while some administrative forms might be less interesting than a day of cake tasting, it is really important to make sure you get this part right.

Getting Married in the UK as a Visitor

. Whether or not one of the couple is British, it is important that anyone planning to get married in the UK does not do so when they have entered the UK as a visitor. This includes those who have a multi-entry visa or those who are non-visa nationals. The Immigration Rules state that someone who enters the UK as a visitor must not intend to marry, form a civil partnership or give notice to marry or form a civil partnership, unless they have entered in a specific Visitor for Marriage category. If you were to give notice to marry or even get married while in the UK as a standard visitor, there is a risk that the Home Office could find that you exercised deception on entering the UK by failing to disclose this intention. This could potentially therefore affect your ability to return to the UK again.

The ‘marriage or civil partnership visit visa’ specifically permits people to both get married or form a civil partnership, as well as giving notice to marry while they are in the UK. When assessing an application in this category, the Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that the person does not intend to be party to a sham marriage. This gives UKVI the opportunity to assess the genuineness of any relationship prior to granting someone entry to the UK, which they would not have if a person has entered as a visitor without the endorsement for marriage or civil partnership. Those who normally do not need a visa to enter the UK as a visitor (non-visa nationals) will need to apply in advance if they intend to marry.

Individuals who enter in this category can stay for up to six months, but cannot switch into any other category from within the UK, and must demonstrate that they intend to leave the UK at the end of their stay. Therefore, if you do want to stay in the UK longer, there may be other categories which are more appropriate for your circumstances. An early conversation with your Fiancee about where you want to get married and where you want to live after the wedding could help save making the wrong application.

Fiancee Visa

If your partner is British or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (Settled), and you want to come to the UK to get married and then remain in the UK, the appropriate application is as a Fiancé(e) under Appendix FM.

This application will initially be granted for a period of six months to allow you to get married (and if for any reason you can’t get married in that time, it can be extended). After you are married you can switch into the Spouse category, without leaving the UK.

Unlike the visitor for marriage category, you don’t need to demonstrate that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your stay, instead, you need to show that you intend to settle permanently in the UK with your partner. The requirements, therefore, are a little stricter than for those just visiting. There are specified evidential requirements to demonstrate that you meet the financial requirements.

For most people this means demonstrating that your partner in the UK earns at least £18,600, either through salaried employment or self-employment. Alternatively you or your partner can show that you have savings of at least £62,500. The Immigration Rules also allow for earnings from shares, property or pensions, and in some cases you can combine different types of earnings together, in addition to savings to make up any shortfall.

One problem for those getting married in the UK is that they will effectively have to make two immigration applications within a very short space of time, and given that the Home Office fees are now over £1500 per application in addition to the Immigration Health Surcharge fee of £1000 you need to pay for the second application, this can add unwanted expense to an already expensive time.

While the requirements for Fiancée and Spouse are very similar, even if there is just a short time between making the two applications, because of the requirement for all evidence to be up to date at the time of the application, particularly the financial documents, there is likely to be a substantial amount of new documents necessary to make the Spouse applications, which can be frustrating for couples who would rather be organising their honeymoon rather than their UK visas.

Spouse Visa application

The Spouse Visa application is for individuals who are already married. Getting married outside of the UK and then applying to enter directly as a Spouse can save the money of making two visa applications. Applying in this category still has a financial requirement and you must prove that you intend to live together permanently in the UK. However, there is now no need to prove that you intend to get married within six months. This can provide couples with more flexibility over their wedding day, but does mean they can’t have their legal wedding ceremony in the UK. This does not, however, preclude a wedding party in the UK.

Partners of Points Based System Migrants and European Nationals

Neither the European regulations or the Immigration Rules for partners of Points Based System Migrants have specific provisions for Fiancé(e)s. People in this situation will need to consider alternative options.

August 13, 2019

Indefinite Leave to Remain ILR: A Complete Guide

What is ILR?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is an immigration status which allows the person who holds it to live and work in the UK for an unlimited time, without any need to apply for a visa extension.

If you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, you are able to leave and re-enter the UK without any immigration restrictions. Unlike British citizenship, which is granted for life, an individual’s ILR can lapse in certain circumstances, for example if they leave the UK for a period of two years or more (see Can my indefinite leave to enter or remain be taken away? below).

Unlike Permanent Residence, Indefinite Leave to Remain is a status given to non-EEA nationals. If you have ILR and your home is the UK, you are regarded as being settled in the UK.

How do I prove that I have Indefinite Leave to Remain?

There are various ways in which Indefinite Leave to Remain can be documented:

a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If you are settled in the UK your BRP will display either ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’, ‘Indefinite Leave to Enter’, or ‘No Time Limit’;
a No Time Limit (NTL) stamp in your passport (expired or otherwise), stating ‘There is at present no time limit on the holder’s stay in the United Kingdom’;
an Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) stamp in your passport (expired or otherwise), stating ‘Given indefinite leave to enter the United Kingdom’;
an ILR stamp in your passport (expired or otherwise), stating ‘given leave to remain in the UK for an indefinite period;
an ILR endorsement in your passport (expired or otherwise);
a letter from the Home Office confirming your right to remain indefinitely in the UK.
What if I do not have a document to prove that I have ILR?

If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain, but you do not have a document to prove it, you can apply for confirmation of this status in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). You can do this through an administrative process called a no time limit (NTL) application.

You are also able to make an NTL application if you previously held a passport which contained proof of your ILR but this has been lost or stolen, or has expired. If this is the case, you may have to provide extra information such as a crime reference number or a police report, in order to prove to the Home Office that you are the same person who has previously been granted ILR.

If you make an application for a permit showing your Indefinite Leave to Remain and you do not have any documentary evidence of your ILR, the Home Office will check all their available systems and files for any records that provide evidence that you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

It is not mandatory for you to apply for a residence permit, or indeed to have any documentary evidence of your ILR. However, there are benefits which make it more convenient for you to do so. A BRP has enhanced security features which make it less likely to be used fraudulently than old-style passport stamps or endorsements. It can be used when you travel to and from the UK to facilitate your travel, as it evidences your right to enter and remain in the UK.

Also, it proves to any employer that you have the right to work in the UK. Employers are required under Section 25 of the Immigration Act 2016 to check that their employees have the right to work. If you do not have any documents to prove that you have ILR, your employer will have to contact the Home Office’s Employer Checking Service to verify that you have the right to work. If you have an NTL BRP, you can demonstrate your entitlement to work more easily by simply showing it to your employer.

Do I need permission to work in the UK if I have ILR?

Once your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is approved, you do not need permission from a Government Department to take up new employment, or to change your employment. Moreover, any restrictions that were previously placed on your hours or type of employment are lifted.

You may engage in any kind of business or profession, self-employed or otherwise (as long as you comply with any general or statutory regulations for that business or professional activity).

Can I live or work in the UK if I have Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Once you have Indefinite Leave to Remain, there are no longer any restrictions on your living and working in the United Kingdom.

However, if you are thinking of going to live or work in the Isle of Man or one of the Channel islands, you should first consult the immigration authorities of the Island concerned.

Can I study in the UK if I have ILR?

Once you have ILR, you are free to study in the UK. You will also be eligible to pay home tuition fees (i.e. the same rate as British, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens) at higher education institutions, and to apply for student finance, provided that you have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years before the first day of the academic year of your course. (‘Ordinarily resident’ means that you are habitually and normally resident in the UK, and any absences have been of a temporary or occasional nature).

Can I vote in the UK if I have Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you have ILR, you can only vote in national and local elections and referenda in the UK if you are a qualifying Commonwealth citizen. The definition of a Commonwealth citizen can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website.

Can I access healthcare if I have ILR?

Generally, healthcare will be available to you if you have ILR and you are ordinarily resident (you are habitually and normally resident in the UK, and any absences have been of a temporary or occasional nature).

For more information, see the government’s guidance on healthcare.

Can I access public funds if I have Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you have ILR, you have access to public funds. You are able to claim job seekers’ allowances and other benefits.

Do I still need to register with the police once I have ILR?

If you were previously required to report any changes in your circumstances to the police, you no longer need to do so once you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. Your police registration certificate will be stamped to show this.

What happens if I leave the UK after I have been granted ILR?

If you leave the UK following a grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will normally be readmitted for settlement as a returning resident, provided that:

you did not receive assistance from public funds towards the cost of leaving the UK;
you had indefinite leave to enter or indefinite leave to remain here when you last left;
you have not been away for longer than two years; and
you are returning for the purpose of settlement.
In order to be considered as settled in the UK, you will have to be able to show that you are habitually and normally resident in the UK, and that any absences have been of a temporary or occasional nature.

If your absence from the UK is for longer than two years but you can still demonstrate that you had indefinite leave to enter or indefinite leave to remain here when you last left, and you are returning for the purpose of settlement, you may still qualify for admission as a returning resident if, for example, you have maintained strong connections with the UK.

You will not be re-admitted as a returning resident if you are resident overseas and only return to the UK for short periods.

You do not require a visa to return to the UK provided you are returning for settlement after an absence of two years or less. However, if you are returning for settlement to the UK after an absence of over 2 years, you are advised to apply or an entry clearance at the nearest British Diplomatic Post in the country in which you are living. This should then facilitate your re-admission to the UK.

What if I have a child born in the UK after I have been granted ILR?

If you have a child who is not a British citizen, but who was born in the UK on or after 01 January 1983, they may be able to register as a British citizen once you have Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Any child born to you in the UK while you remain settled here may be a British citizen automatically at birth.

Can family members join me in the UK once I have been granted ILR?

Family members who are not British citizens may be able to join you in the UK. There are different rules depending on what type of family member they are (partner/spouse/fiancé(e), child, parent, or adult coming to be cared for by a relative). The different rules for applying for family visas can be found here.

Can my Indefinite Leave to Remain be taken away?

It is possible to lose ILR in certain circumstances.

If you commit a serious crime and you are deported from the UK, your ILR will be invalidated.

Your ILR will be revoked if:

you are liable to deportation but cannot be removed for legal reasons, such as the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);
you were granted leave as a refugee and cease to be a refugee.
Under paragraph 20 of the Immigration Rules, your ILR will lapse if you stay outside the UK for a continuous period of more than two years, as you will be considered to be no longer present and settled in the UK.

If you wish to re-enter the UK after two years, you will have to apply for a Returning Resident visa (see What happens if I leave the UK? above).

Top