Immigration facts on British nationality

Immigration facts

There are six different kinds of British nationality, making it important to understand the different categories and which – if any – apply to you.

We are always available to offer all of the immigration facts you may need about British nationality and to help you to determine if any of the six category types relate to your individual circumstances.

British nationality categories

The six types of nationality are British citizenship, British overseas citizen, British Overseas Territories citizen, British national (overseas), British subject and British protected person.

British citizenship

If you were born in the UK prior to January 1, 1983, you became a citizen of Britain on this date if you were a UK and Colonies citizen. You were not under any UK Immigration Control and were free of restrictions to work and live in Britain.

You may have had this ‘right of abode’ if you are UK-born; had the right of abode in Britain after being born in a colony; you are UK naturalised; you were registered as a UK and Colonies citizen; or you could show descent on your father’s side if he satisfied one of these criteria.

If you were born on or after the start of January 1983 you are not automatically a British citizen even if you are British-born. You will have citizenship if your father or mother was a British citizen at the time of your birth or were ‘settled’ in the country at the time of your birth.

If your birth was before July 2006 the British nationality of your father will normally only pass on to you if your father and mother were married when you were born.

British overseas and overseas territories citizens

British Overseas Territories citizenship applies to people who were born in or who have legal connections with an overseas territory.

Unless you also have British citizenship, you will still have to abide by immigration controls and you do not have an automatic right to work or live in Britain.

You will have been automatically granted British citizenship, however, in May 2002 if your overseas territories citizenship had connections with some qualifying territories.

British overseas citizenship, meanwhile, is only available in limited circumstances, such as for those people who did not become an overseas territories citizen or British citizen in January 1982 or are classed as stateless.

This is a relatively complicated area, making it important to seek guidance from qualified immigration lawyers in order to ensure that you understand all of the immigration facts and rules.

British subjects

British subjects were very common before 1949 and every Commonwealth citizen was a subject until January 1983. Today, however, very few people qualify to become British subjects, although it is possible in certain circumstances.

British national (overseas)

This applies to people with links to Hong Kong and is no longer awarded as a type of British nationality.

British protected person

You may be able to become a British protected person if you have always been stateless, you are British or overseas territory-born and one of your parents had British protected person status at the time of your birth.

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