Getting citizenship for a child born in the UK to foreign parents
A child does not qualify for automatic British citizenship by birth if they are born on British soil. To be an automatic British national, a child’s birth must have taken place in the UK to at least one parent with British citizenship.
A child born in Britain to a parent with some form of settled status can also qualify for citizenship. Settled status can be either Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or EEA Permanent residence. If this is the case, a child is not automatically granted UK citizenship – you must register them for it after their birth.
Our team of Birmingham-based immigration lawyers is here to assist you if you need help finding out whether your child can qualify for citizenship under any of these routes. Our lawyers can advise you, or oversee your entire application if you are eligible to make one. Call us on 0121 667 6530 to find out more about whether your child meets the requirements.
Registration requirements for children
The usual way for a child to be granted automatic British citizenship is if they are born on UK soil to one or two British parents. The British parent(s) must be citizens by birth in order for automatic citizenship to take place, according to the British Nationality Act. If this is the case, no action needs to be taken; the child is a British citizen by birth.
If the British parent has become a citizen through the process of naturalisation (i.e. they originally came to the UK on a visa, and then took steps to apply for citizenship using this route) they must register their child for citizenship.
The same goes for parents who give birth to children in the UK while they hold a form of ‘settled status’, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain or EEA Permanent Residence.
A child born inside the UK to non British parents cannot automatically qualify for citizenship. They will need to register as a British citizen. They can usually do this if they have a claim to British citizenship (for example, if one of their parents gains citizenship after their birth. They can also become eligible for British registration if they live in the UK for at least 10 years. In this case, they can gain citizenship through the ’10-year continuous residence route’.
The application process
The British citizenship application process for a child born in the UK to non-British parents varies depending on the circumstances and the type of citizenship route being used.
If either the child’s mother or father gain settled in the UK after the child has been born, the child can immediately register for citizenship based on them. The application process for this involves completing a form MN1 and submitting evidence to UKVI that demonstrates this. Evidence you can submit includes previous visas you (the parent) have held, as well as proof that you now hold some form of settled status. This can either be your ILR documents, if you are from a country outside of the EEA, and your EEA Residence Card/Permit if you are a from within the EEA. You also need to submit documents that show when and where the child was born, and demonstrate their immigration history, as well as giving two references.
Once you have gathered this information, the child’s biometric information (their photos and fingerprints) also need to be taken. The form and supporting evidence can be submitted directly to the Home Office. A decision on child registration applications usually takes around eight weeks to be reached.
Once citizenship has been registered, a child is eligible for a British passport and has the same rights as an automatic British citizen by birth.
To register your child as a British citizen you need to submit a Form MN1 to the Home Office. This form requires you to submit information about your child’s time in the UK. When completing the form MN1, you will need to show that your child’s birth took place in the UK and that they qualify to register as a UK citizen through either your status (if you have become settled, for example) or through the continuous residence route.
In both cases, the form requires you to go into detail about your child’s time in the UK. This is especially important if applying under the latter route.
Costs & fees
To register a child for British citizenship, the Home Office charge £1,012.
As well as this, there are also additions costs to consider. For example, you must pay £19.20.
If you wish to speed up the processing time of your child’s British citizenship application, you can also use a priority service that allow your application to be reviewed and a decision to be reached within a few days.
This currently costs £477 on top of the usual fees.
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Registering a child for British citizenship involves submitting a Form MN1, alongside evidence that shows you are either a British citizen or settled person. Equally, you can also show that the child has been continuously resident in the UK for at least 10 years (if applying under the continuous residence route). For this, documents should be submitted that proves they have lived in the UK during this time – this could be school records for example.
A child must also meet the ‘good character requirement’ if they are older than 10 years old.
To naturalise as a British citizen, a person must have lived in the UK under a valid form of entry clearance – like a UK visa or dependent visa. Only some visas qualify for this. For example, Tier 1 and Tier of the points-based system and their dependents, and Spouse Visas and their dependents.
To be eligible for naturalisation, a person must:
- Have lived in the UK as a settled person for at least 12 months
- Have passed the Life in the UK test
- Meet the English language requirements
An application for a child to register as a British citizen usually takes around eight weeks to process once it has been submitted. This time can be reduced to five days – one week if the applicant (or the mother/father that applies on behalf of them) opts for the UKVI priority service.