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British Citizenship by Descent for South African citizens

You might be eligible for British citizenship by descent if one of your parents was born in the UK. You could become a British citizen through this route even if you were born in South Africa.

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British Citizenship by Descent for South Africans

You might be eligible for British citizenship by descent if one of your parents was born in the UK. You could become a British citizen through this route even if you were born in South Africa.

This is a particularly complex area of UK immigration law and each case is judged on an individual basis.

Some individuals will be automatically eligible for British citizenship by descent, whereas others will need to complete an application to confirm their British citizenship status.

The exact requirements differ depending on when the person was born and the circumstances of their parent/s at the time of their birth.

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Who is Eligible for British Citizenship by Descent?

There are two forms of British citizenship: British citizenship by descent and British citizenship otherwise than by descent.

British citizenship by descent is a term used to describe someone who was born outside of the UK and acquired British citizenship on the basis of their ancestry.

As a South African, you could be eligible for British citizenship by descent even if you haven’t spent any time in the UK.

The eligibility criteria around British citizenship by descent varies depending on when you were born and the circumstances of your parent/s at the time of your birth.

British Citizenship by Descent for South Africans Born Before 1983

If you were born before 1983 and your father was a citizen of the UK and Colonies at the time of your birth, and they were married to your mother, you will automatically be a British citizen.

Your father must also be able to pass citizenship on to you. They can do this if one of the following applies:

  • They were born or adopted in the UK
  • They were given citizenship after applying for it through their own right
  • They worked as a Crown servant when they were born

Other Eligibility for British Citizenship for South Africans Born Before 1983

If you were born before 1983, you could also be eligible for citizenship if either your mother or father was a citizen of the UK and Colonies at the time of your birth, but their circumstances were different to the ones described above.

In these cases, you would not receive automatic British citizenship, but you could submit an application for British citizenship instead.

You could also be eligible if either:

  • Your parents were not married when you were born
  • Your father was not British, but your mother was

In these circumstances, one of the following must have applied to your mother or father

  • They were born or adopted in the UK
  • They were given citizenship through their own right
  • They were working as a Crown servant when you were born

British Citizenship by Descent: Born Between 1983 and June 2006

If you were born in South Africa (or elsewhere) between 1983 and 30th June 2006, you will automatically be a British citizen if your mother or father was a British citizen when you were born. Your parents must have been married at the time of your birth if your father had British citizenship, but your mother didn’t.

Your parent can pass citizenship on to you in these circumstances if one of the following applies:

  • They were born or adopted in the UK
  • They were given British citizenship through their own right
  • They worked as a Crown servant when you were born

You could be eligible to apply for British citizenship if your father was a British citizen and your mother wasn’t, and they were not married at the time of your birth.

One of the following must have also applied to your father:

  • They were born or adopted in the UK
  • They were given British citizenship through their own right
  • They worked as a Crown servant when you were born

To find out more about British citizenship by descent, please do not hesitate to get in touch Contact Us

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British Citizenship by Descent: Born after June 2006

If you were born on or after July 1st 2006 in South Africa and one of your parents was a British citizen at the time of your birth, you will automatically be a British citizen.

Your parent will be able to pass their citizenship on to you if:

  • They were born or adopted in the UK
  • They were given British citizenship through their own right
  • They worked as a Crown servant when you were born

Can your UK Immigration Lawyers Help Me with the Application?

Yes, our UK immigration lawyers are here to provide expert immigration legal advice and application assistance with British citizenship by descent.

British citizenship by descent cases are some of the most complex in UK immigration law. Owing to the complexity of these cases, we highly recommend hiring an immigration lawyer. Our UK immigration lawyers can help you to prepare your application and will ensure that it adheres to all necessary standards and requirements.

To find out more about how we can help you to acquire British citizenship, please call us now on 0333 305 3612.

What is the Difference Between Automatic Citizenship and Registration?

A person will be eligible for automatic citizenship if they meet the main requirements set out above in one of the specified categories. This means they will not need to enter an official application for citizenship. Instead, they can apply for an official letter confirming their citizenship. People in these circumstances will be able to apply for a British passport with registering their citizenship.

If someone doesn’t meet the full requirements, they may still be eligible for British citizenship by descent if they meet certain conditions. In this case, they would need to complete an application to register their citizenship, which will include providing a portfolio of evidence.

An example of when this would apply is if someone was born between 1983 and June 2006 and their father was a British citizen, but their mother wasn’t, and they were not married at the time of the person’s birth.

If you want to register citizenship, the form which you will need to complete depends on your circumstances – there is no one individual application form for citizenship registrations.

As part of the application process, you will be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. Usually, this will take place at one of the following service points: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban or Port Elizabeth. You will be asked to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) at a cost of £19.20.

What is British Citizenship by Double Descent?

Under certain circumstances you might be able to apply for British citizenship by double descent. This is an extremely complex area of immigration law, requiring careful consideration.

If one of your grandparents was born in the UK and was a British citizen at the time of your birth, you could be eligible for this route to British citizenship.

Claims for British citizenship by double descent are considered on a case-by-case basis and there is no guarantee that you will receive citizenship through this route. There are different rules depending on how old you are, when you were born and your parent’s and grandparent’s circumstances.

If you believe that you may have a claim for British citizenship by double descent, our highly experienced UK immigration lawyers are here to help.

We will assess your circumstances and come to a decision as to whether you are eligible for this British citizenship route. If we believe that you have a valid case, we can help you with the full application process, which is a lengthy and complicated one.

Our UK immigration lawyers will help you to prepare your documentation to include in your portfolio of evidence as proof of your eligibility. We will also complete all required application forms and submit your application to the UK Home Office.

Call us now on 0333 305 3612 to find out more about the British citizenship by double descent.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for British citizenship by descent. Contact us

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What is the British Citizenship Ceremony?

As part of the process of becoming a British citizen you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony. This is a mandatory requirement if you are 18 years old or over, whereas it is optional for those under 18.

Typically, the citizenship ceremony is conducted in a group, although you can request to have an individual ceremony at an additional cost. Group ceremonies cost £80 and you can take two guests with you.

You will need to swear an oath of allegiance and promise to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK.

Usually it is possible to have the citizenship ceremony in South Africa. You will need to get in touch with the UK embassy or consulate in South Africa to confirm that this is possible and, if so, to arrange the citizenship ceremony.

How Long Does it Take to Receive a Decision?

In most cases, you will receive a decision on a British citizenship by descent application within six months of the UK Home Office receiving the application.

You will be informed if you need to provide more information to confirm your identity. Should this happen, the application will, of course, be delayed.

If your circumstances have changed, it is important to inform the UK Home Office immediately. You need to inform the UK Home Office if you have got married, moved house or been arrested.

You can email the UK Home Office directly to inform them of a change of circumstances on: [email protected].

Get in touch with our immigration experts to learn more about the eligibility criteria for British citizenship by descent. Learn more

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Frequently Asked Questions

British citizenship by birth is a route towards British citizenship based on where a person was born and on the ancestry of their parents. In order to be eligible, the applicant must have been born in the UK.

Someone who was born in the UK before 1983 is usually automatically a British citizen, even if they haven’t lived in the UK for most of their life.

Someone who was born on January 1st 1983 or later is usually automatically a British citizen if one of their parents was a British citizen or a person with settled status at the time of their birth.

 

British citizenship by double descent is an especially complex area of UK immigration law. Each case is considered on an individual basis, and there is no guarantee of acquiring citizenship through this route.

The eligibility criteria centres around when you were born and the ancestry of the person’s parent/s and grandparent/s. If you have a UK-born grandparent, you might be eligible for British citizenship by double descent.

The categories are divided into:

  • Those born before 1st January 1949
  • Those born before 1st January 1983
  • Those born after 1st January 1983

The eligibility criteria is different within each of these categories.

To find out more about British citizenship by double descent, you can get in touch with our UK immigration lawyers on 0333 305 3612.

If you qualify for British citizenship by descent, you will be able to apply for a British passport and enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.

Those automatically eligible for citizenship should be able to apply for a passport once they have received their certificate of citizenship. Those who are not automatically eligible, will need to submit an application before applying for a British passport.

You will need to complete an application which costs £75.50 if applied for online, or £85 if applied for by post.

The specific documents and information which you will need to provide includes your current passport, your full birth certificate and documents showing your parent’s immigration status in the UK at the time of your birth.

As with all UK immigration applications, all documents must be in English or Welsh. And documents that are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator. You will need to include both the translated documents and originals in the application.

If you would like to travel to the UK but do not want a British passport, you could apply for a certificate of entitlement instead of a passport.