The Immigration Act 2014 has introduced a new right for individuals who were born outside of the UK before 1983 to register as British citizens, if on their birth date they had an unmarried British parent (or an unmarried parent deemed settled in the UK).
Pre- 1 January 1983
The British Nationality Act and routes to British citizenship have changed over the last few decades. Historically, British nationality could not be passed on to a child born outside of the United Kingdom by their mother. The law dictated that only the father could pass down his right of citizenship to the child, but on the stringent condition that he was married to the child’s mother.
Post 1 January 1983
An important change happened in January 1983, whereby UK Nationality law was updated to allow the British mother to pass down her British citizenship to her children born outside of the United Kingdom. This change showed a significant shift in society’s attitudes and the rights that women could also transfer to their children.
1 July 2006
A further significant change was implemented to allow children born to unmarried parents after 1 July 2006 to be registered as British if their father was:
- Named on the birth certificate and the certificate was issued within one year of the child’s birth; OR
- The father could prove by way of DNA (or other means) that he was the father of the child.
This still meant that those people who were born overseas before 1 January 1983, (but for their parents not being married would have been British or entitled to acquire British citizenship), were placed at a disadvantage in that there was only very limited facility for acquisition of British citizenship.
The Immigration Act 2014
When the new Immigration Act 2014 was being passed, proposals were put forward to amend this issue, so that children born overseas to unmarried British parents before 1 January 1983 would also have an entitlement to British citizenship.
The Act now gives individuals the ability to register as a British citizen to any person born outside of the UK before 1 January 1983 with a British parent (or a parent deemed settled in the UK) regardless of whether those parents were married or not. This provision applies to individuals who are British by birth, British by descent or eligible to be registered as British.