How Easy is it to Lose Your

British Citizenship?

Can You Lose Your British Citizenship?

You go through a number of hurdles as you secure your own British citizenship. However, the prospect of losing it does not necessarily cross your mind.

There were quite a few public cases where the Secretary of State unilaterally withdrew British citizenship citing national security concerns.

While others suddenly discover that they will no longer be able to pass on their British citizenship to their own children regardless of hundreds of years of family history in the UK.

Legal Grounds to Rescind Your British Citizenship

The Home Secretary has the power to take away British citizenship based on two grounds:

    • Not conducive to the public good; or
    • If the person obtained their citizenship by fraud.

I always encourage my clients to fill out their UK immigration applications with care and be upfront with any undesirable information they need to reveal so that you are protected in the future and your citizenship cannot be taken away from you as easily. Transparency is the key.

It is suggested that over 400 British citizens were formally deprived of British citizenship from 2002. Some of these individuals were able to successfully appeal the Home Office decision and secure British citizenship.

The most vocal case recently was that of Shamima Begum who lost her appeal. She was a schoolgirl who fled to Syria together with her friends to join ISIS efforts to build the state. 

She was later discovered in a refugee camp and the public found it very upsetting that she showed no remorse for her actions.

As she was being stripped of her British citizenship, the line of argument was an interesting one. It stated that she was born with citizenship of Bangladesh even when actually born British in the UK.

The government of Bangladesh, however, disagreed with the Home Office’s assessment and disagreed that she was born with citizenship of Bangladesh.

The caveat is that British citizenship cannot be revoked on the grounds of not conducive to the public good if it makes the person stateless.

Shamima Begum lost her appeal and was stripped of her British citizenship, while Bangladesh does not accept that she was legally entitled to citizenship of Bangladesh.

The case of Shamima Begum highlighted a number of different national security concerns and especially the likely spread of terrorism in the UK.

The Windrush Case Demonstrates that You May Lose Your British Citizenship in a Different Manner, Too

HMT Empire Windrush was the ship that brought born British subjects in the Caribbean to the UK. The majority of these people arrived as children on their parents’ passports. The parents were filling in the shortage vacancies with the NHS in postwar Britain.

The political scandal which erupted in 2018 demonstrated that a number of these arrivals to the UK who were born British subjects were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation and ended up deported or refused entry to the UK.

The Home Office no longer had the evidence to demonstrate that these individuals were legally resident in the UK and entitled to remain.

The 1971 Immigration Act gave Commonwealth citizens living in the UK indefinite leave to remain.

The Windrush case demonstrates that regardless of the valid law at the time and you no longer have the records to prove your right to remain in the UK legally, you may be subjected to a treatment as an illegal immigrant notwithstanding your citizenship. 

Discriminatory Nationality Law

One of your parents may have been British and you may have been born British save for a discriminatory nationality law.

If you were born before 1983 Nationality Law stipulates that you are only born British if your father is British. 

However, if you were born before 1983 and only your mother was British then you were not automatically entitled to British citizenship.

Your citizenship would need to be processed under separate rules, which I was able to successfully do for my clients.

When You Are No Longer Able to Pass on Your British Citizenship to Your Children

Unfortunately, British citizenship has an expiry date. This is very true for families who have relocated overseas and their children were born overseas.

These children who were born overseas no longer are able to pass on their British to the next generation, which is their own children if they are also born overseas.

This can be a painful realisation to British families who have hundreds of years of family history in the UK.

The British family line may terminate abruptly if the British children are born overseas and no steps are taken for them to come back and spend at least several years in the UK.

My clients were successful in their application when I represented them before the Home Office in these circumstances.

Yes. It is Easy to Lose Your British Citizenship

There are several legal grounds that may deprive you of British citizenship. You may lose your British citizenship because of an oversight or mistake and the lack of legal documents and records to prove it.

Perhaps, in normal circumstances you should have been born British, but the discriminatory nature of the law at the time prevented your right from being awarded automatically.

Your grandchildren may lose their right to British citizenship if too many generations of a British family are born overseas.

Time to Become British?

I am an OISC regulated UK immigration adviser.

Book a call with me to discuss your British citizenship or any UK immigration application. Submit your UK immigration enquiry here if you need assistance with any UK immigration application.

You will be first guided to a payment page when you choose “book a call” option. After making the payment, you will be able to choose the most convenient date and time for our Zoom meeting. You can report a payment issue here.

Saule Voluckyte, M.A.E.S, LL.B, FAIA

I have been working exclusively with UHNWI in Mayfair, London since January 2008. I built specialist knowledge and expertise required to serve ultra high net worth individuals investing, operating and relocating to the UK or Switzerland.

Within the industry, I am the single adviser who is able to traverse the different areas of expertise and bring a comprehensive approach across: global structuring, UK immigration, international taxation and FOREX to develop their global wealth strategy, while they build, grow and expand their wealth worldwide.

Previous experience as one of the senior advisors for the government, made me a go-to person when delicate and uncomfortable scenarios involving heads of state need to be handled with care and preserve privacy.

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