Hands holding, photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

How can my child become a British Citizen?

Article published (or last modified) on 04 July 2019

On our free UK immigration advice forum Visr, we have frequently been asked how children become British citizens through UK immigration law.

We’ve therefore written this blog to outline the ways in which your child’s citizenship status can be secured in the UK.

Children who are Automatically British Citizens

There are two main ways in which a child can automatically be a British citizen without registering to do so.

These are called ‘British citizenship otherwise than by descent’, and ‘British citizenship by descent’.

‘British citizenship otherwise than by descent’: A child who is born in the UK to a parent who is either a British citizen or settled in the UK at the time of birth is automatically a British citizen and does not have to be registered.

‘British citizenship by descent’: British citizenship can also be passed on to one generation born abroad. This means if a child is born abroad to a parent who is British otherwise than by descent, they will automatically be British by descent.

Children born to a member of the UK armed forces are also automatically British, and in certain (but not all) situations, adopted children are automatically British without the need to register.

There are also some situations where children of EEA and Swiss nationals who are born in the UK could be British automatically.

To check if your child is automatically classified as a British citizen, you can use the following webpage.

Children holding peace signs, photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

Registering a Child as a British Citizen

If children are not automatically British citizens then they have to register to receive this status.

Once you have obtained your own citizenship, you still have to register your child for them to also become a British citizen.

Applicants not knowing or forgetting to do this is a common mistake.

You cannot include your children in your own application for citizenship, they must be applied for separately.

There are two types of child citizenship registration: entitlement and discretionary. In order for a child to be registered as entitled to their citizenship, they must be one of the following:

A child born in the UK whose parent or parents become British or settled (must be applied for before the child turns 18). OR

A child born in the UK who has lived in the UK continuously until the age of 10 (you can apply for this status after the child turns 18, but the fee is higher).

Other children are able to apply to register through discretion. In these situations, the Home Office will consider a variety of factors.

These can include the child’s connection to the UK, where their future will lie, their parents’ views and immigration status, how long they’ve lived in the UK as well as any other compelling circumstances, among others.

If a discretionary application is being considered it must be viewed on an individual basis, on the merit of the case.

Any discretionary applications, because they are viewed individually, are complex immigration applications.

For both entitlement (for those living continuously until the age of 10) and discretionary applications, if the child is over the age of 10 then the Home Office will take into consideration whether they are of ‘good character’ when making their decision.

Westminster, photo by Ming Jun Tan on Unsplash

Criminal convictions will often need to become spent until the applicant can apply for citizenship, to meet this requirement.

The Home Office conduct thorough checks on every applicant and a failure to meet the good character requirement will result in a refusal.

What is the Process for Registering a Child as a British citizen?

The application form for registering a child under 18 as a British citizen is called form MN1 and can be found through this gov.uk page.

If the child was born in the UK and has lived continuously here until the age of 10, you should apply through form T instead.

This application will be completed through the UKVCAS system, meaning you will need to provide biometrics at a UKVCAS service point.

Some supporting documents will be required for the application. These can be uploaded through the UKVCAS online system or provided at your biometrics appointment.

It costs £1,012 to apply, with an additional £19.20 biometrics fee. If the child turns 18 during the application process then an additional £80 will be payable for a citizenship ceremony.

A decision on these applications will usually be sent within 6 months, though some decisions can take longer. If the Home Office requires more information for your application, then this will be requested by them.

Children don’t have to attend a citizenship ceremony if they are under 18, but can choose to do so if they wish.

If you require any assistance in making a citizenship application on behalf of your child, including the certification of any documents, please send us your enquiry and our expert immigration advisers will be ready to help.

Simon Magava on phone, photo by White Rose Visas

How do I apply for a British Passport after getting Citizenship?

Once you are successful in gaining citizenship, either yourself or for your child, an additional application will need to be completed so that you can obtain a British passport.

This will be for a child’s passport for those under 16 or an adult passport for those over 16.

The cost of getting a child’s passport is £49 online or £58.50 to apply with a paper form from the Post Office.

Child Passports are valid for 5 years and the application takes around 3 weeks before you get your passport. The Home Office offers three faster, premium options if you need your passport sooner. These cost an additional fee and can be found on this webpage.

The passport itself will be sent to you by mail and can be tracked using this gov.uk address.

The fee for getting an adult passport is slightly higher, costing £75.50 to apply online or £85 to apply with a paper form.

Adult passports are however valid for longer, as they last for 10 years.

It will take around 6 weeks to get your adult passport.

Sometimes you will be asked to attend an interview to confirm your identity, which takes around 30 minutes and is held at a passport interview office.

Please note that you cannot enter the UK using your certificate of British citizenship, which is why it is advisable to apply for a British passport as soon as you are able.

Your new passport will be sent to you by mail.

Passports can be renewed or replaced at the same cost as the original application, and can be completed online here for a child’s passport or here for an adult’s passport.

Please note that you cannot enter the UK using your certificate of British citizenship, which is why it is advisable to apply for a British passport as soon as you are able.

Lauren Appleby, photo by White Rose Visas

Lauren Appleby, Immigration Adviser at White Rose Visas, comments:

“Parents can often be unaware that they need to apply separately for their child’s citizenship even though they have become British citizens themselves. Since eventual citizenship is such an important part of UK immigration for so many applicants, we believe its hugely important that all applicants are aware of the need to apply on behalf of their child, and have access to the advice they need to ensure this is processed efficiently.”

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