British Nationality Law covers both those born automatically British citizens at birth and also those who are able to apply to register as British citizens.
If you have a claim to register as a British citizen, pursuing this route will provide you with an unqualified right to live and work in the UK, and also enable you to sponsor family members to join you to live in the UK. You should be aware, however, that the application to register as a British citizen in some cases must be made before the applicant turns 18 years old.
If you are living in the UK and would like our help with the process of naturalising as a British citizen, please our Applying for British Citizenship page.
British Nationality Law is one of the most complex areas of UK Immigration law; it is also a very dynamic area of the law, which has been subject to frequent legislative changes.
Historically, British Nationality Law discriminated on both gender and legitimacy grounds, with only married fathers being able to pass on their British citizenship to children born overseas. In 1983, the law was changed, so that those who were born overseas to a British citizen mother could now register as British citizens. Further legislative changes since then have all moved towards removing historical legislative unfairness in British Nationality Law, culminating in The Nationality and Borders Act 2022.
Our team have decades of experience in disentangling complex nationality cases. With our in-depth understanding of this fast-moving area of law, we can advise you on your eligibility for British nationality based on your individual circumstances and help you through the registration process.
If you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, then you will be able to apply for British citizenship straightaway, although there are a number of criteria you will have to meet. These criteria include, but are not limited to, passing a Life in the UK test and meeting the English language requirement.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, then you will need to wait 12 months from the date you acquired settled status before you can apply to naturalise (the process for an adult becoming a British citizen). For further information, see our dedicated page on Applying for British Citizenship.
Once you are a British citizen, you can then apply for a British passport.
If you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, then you will be able to apply to naturalise as a British citizenship straightaway. Once you have naturalised as a British citizen, you can apply to obtain a British passport.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, then you will need to wait 12 months from the date you acquired indefinite leave to remain before you can apply to naturalise (the process for an adult becoming a British citizen). See our Applying for British Citizenship page for more information.
If your only claim to being British is based on a great-grandparent, then this connection is too remote to be grounds for a claim to British nationality.
The answer depends on which grandparent was born in Scotland and also on where and when you and your parent were born.
If you were born in a Commonwealth country then you would not have a claim to British citizenship. If you are a Commonwealth citizen, you may be able to apply instead for an UK Ancestry visa, which is a route to settlement (permanent residence). For further information, see our UK Ancestry visa page.
In addition, in most cases, if you were born after 1 January 1983, then you will not have a claim to British citizenship through a grandparent.
British nationality cases involving grandparents, known as ‘double-descent’ cases, are complex and we recommend you seek specialist legal advice. If you wish to have a Nationality Consultation with one of our Immigration specialists in order that we can answer any queries you may have, then please see below under ‘How can Thorntons help?’ for details of the service. To arrange a consultation, please call 03330 430350 or complete our enquiry form below.
If you were born in the UK before 1 January 1983 then you were born automatically British.
If you were born in the UK after this date, then you will only be born automatically British if one of your parents was British or settled at the time of your birth. Also, if your parents were not married at the time of your birth, then you may not have been born automatically British, and may have to register.
At Thorntons, our experienced specialist Immigration team, including Accredited Immigration lawyers, are on hand to help clients deal with the complexities of British Nationality Law and advise them on the best way forward for their individual circumstances. We provide a range of services to clients wishing to obtain a UK citizenship.
Nationality Consultation Service Package
We offer a fixed fee consultation for £350 plus VAT (if applicable) for standard British nationality cases and £800 plus VAT (if applicable) for complex cases. VAT is not chargeable if you are resident overseas. We will ask you to provide the following information via email:
- Your date of birth and place of birth
- The dates of birth and place of birth for both your parents, and whether parents were married at the time of your birth or subsequently
- The dates of birth and place of birth for any qualifying (i.e. British) grandparents, and whether your grandparents were married at the time of your birth or subsequently
Once we have this information, we will then let you know if your case qualifies for the standard or the complex nationality consultation service.
Representative Service Package
If after the consultation we consider you have grounds for making an application to register as a British citizen, then we would be happy to act as representative on your registration application. As your representative, we take care of all aspects of the process for you and are the point of contact for the UK Nationality Department. We will support you with the online process, prepare a set of legal representations setting out how you meet the terms of British Nationality Law and submit all the required documentation to the UK Nationality Department.
If you decide to use our representative service package within three months of a nationality consultation with us, we will deduct 50% of the consultation fees from our fees for the representation service package.
We offer consultations via video call, or if you are living in the UK and prefer to consult in person, this can be arranged at one of our offices, in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee. To arrange a consultation, please call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 or complete our enquiry form below.