Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

United Kingdom: Whether a person living in England, married to a British citizen with a child that has British citizenship would have any rights to British citizenship or a status equivalent to permanent residency in England

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 10 January 2008
Citation / Document Symbol GBR102723.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, United Kingdom: Whether a person living in England, married to a British citizen with a child that has British citizenship would have any rights to British citizenship or a status equivalent to permanent residency in England, 10 January 2008, GBR102723.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47d6545221.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

During a telephone interview with the Research Directorate on 3 January 2008, a nationality and consular officer at the British High Commission in Ottawa stated that a person can acquire British citizenship through marriage if that person is married to a British citizen. The Nationality and Consular Officer explained that a person married to a British citizen must live for three consecutive years in the United Kingdom (UK) in order to apply for citizenship and that, in order for that person to come to the UK, he or she must apply for a settlement visa at the immigration section of the diplomatic office abroad (UK 3 Jan. 2008). The Nationality and Consular Officer stated that a settlement visa is the equivalent to permanent residence in the UK and allows that person to work and live in the UK (ibid.). Only persons residing in the UK can apply for citizenship and persons applying for citizenship must also pass a "knowledge of life in the UK" test as well as a test demonstrating knowledge of English (ibid.).

According to the Border and Immigration Agency of the UK, in the case of persons who are married to or who are the civil partner of a British citizen, there are seven requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to be eligible to apply for citizenship in the UK, which are as follows:

  • being 18 years of age or older;
  • being of sound mind;
  • being able to communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic "to an acceptable degree";
  • having "sufficient knowledge of life in the United Kingdom";
  • being of good character;
  • being the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen;
  • meeting the residential requirements; or
  • having a husband, wife or civil partner serving the Crown or in designated service outside of the UK (UK n.d.a).

The Border and Immigration Agency explains the requirement of good character as follows: "[w]e consider you to be of good character if you show respect for the rights and freedom of the United Kingdom, have observed its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident" (UK n.d.b). To verify whether someone is of good character, the authorities will do a background check on applicants including a criminal record check and will verify whether they have paid their income tax (ibid.). For the requirement of being of sound mind, applicants must be able to make their own decisions (UK n.d.c).

To fulfill the residential requirements, there are four criteria: one must reside in the UK for at least three years (also known as the residential qualifying period), and be present in the UK for three years preceding the date of application without having spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the 3-year period and without having spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in the last 12 months of the 3-year period and one must not be in breach of the immigration rules at any time during the 3-year period (UK n.d.a). The residential qualifying period is calculated from the day authorities receive the application for naturalisation and time spent while "exempt from immigration control" does not count as part of the residential qualifying period, i.e., being present in the UK as a diplomat or a member of visiting armed forces or while in detention does not count towards the residential qualifying period (ibid.). Persons who breach immigration laws during the residential qualifying period could have their applications rejected (ibid.). This includes asylum applicants whose refugee status application and any appeals were refused, as well as persons who entered the UK illegally and obtained refugee status during the residential qualifying period (ibid.).

With regard to UK residency, the Border and Immigration Agency and UKvisas websites indicate that persons can "join" their spouse or civil partner if the spouse or civil partner currently lives and is settled in the UK (i.e., allowed to live lawfully in the UK) or is coming to live permanently in the UK as long as both are 18 years of age or older (UK 19 Nov. 2007; UK n.d.d). Persons wishing to join their spouse or civil partner in the UK must fulfill the following criteria to qualify: they are legally married to each other or are in a civil partnership recognized in the UK; they both intend to live together permanently as husband and wife or as civil partners; they have already met each other; they can support themselves and any dependants without any government assistance and they have adequate accommodations where they can live without any government assistance (ibid.; UK 19 Nov. 2007). The UKvisas website, a joint directorate of the Home Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, adds that, in such cases, persons will be allowed to stay and work in the UK for two years and, at the end of such period, will be able to apply to stay permanently in the UK if they are still married and intend to continue living together (19 Nov. 2007).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

United Kingdom (UK). 3 January 2008. British High Commission, Ottawa. Telephone interview with a nationality and consular officer.
_____. 19 November 2007. UKvisas (Home Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office). "Guidance – Husbands, Wives and Partners." [Accessed 2 Jan. 2008]
_____. N.d.a. Home Office. Border and Immigration Agency. "Requirements for Naturalisation if You are Married to or the Civil Partner of a British Citizen." [Accessed 21 Dec. 2007]
_____. N.d.b. Home Office. Border and Immigration Agency. "Good Character Requirement." [Accessed 24 Dec. 2007]
_____. N.d.c. Home Office. Border and Immigration Agency. "Sound Mind Requirement." [Accessed 24 Dec. 2007]
_____. N.d.d. Home Office. Border and Immigration Agency. "Can My Husband, Wife or Civil Partner Come to Live in the United Kingdom?" [Accessed 2 Jan. 2008]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: British Embassy in the USA, British High Commission.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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