Is a child born in the UK automatically a British Citizen?

In some jurisdictions, being born in a country gives you a certain legal right to citizenship, but this is not always the case in the UK. The determination of whether or not a child holds British citizenship when they are born in the UK depends on the citizenship or immigration status of their parents, rather than where they were born.

A child born in the UK to parents who are British citizens or have ‘settled status’ is automatically a British citizen by birth. In this context, settled status means that the parents have the right to live permanently in the UK, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. These are the only circumstances in which automatic British citizenship is conferred by birth.

If a child is born in the UK to non-British parents who don’t have ILR or settled status, they do not automatically become a British citizen at birth. They will not need to become a citizen to remain in the UK, provided their parents have valid visas. Parents do not need to apply for a visa for a child born in the UK to remain, and the child does not need to join the parents’ visa as a dependant. However, if a non-British parent decides to change to a new visa route, they should apply for a dependent visa for their child at this stage.

If a child born in the UK wishes to become a British citizen, they can apply for British citizenship once at least one parent gains settled status. Alternatively, they may be eligible for British citizenship after they have spent 10 years in the UK, providing they haven’t been outside the country for 90 days or more in any one year. This applies regardless of whether or not either of their parents has settled status or British citizenship.

However, while this may sound straightforward, there are additional considerations. For example, there are different provisions for children born in the UK to register as British citizens if they would otherwise be stateless, and there are different rules if you are the child of a diplomat working in the UK permanently or temporarily. As such, the best approach for people living in the UK who do not have Indefinite Leave to Remain or settled status and who are expecting a child is to speak to a solicitor.

The knowledgeable immigration lawyers at Latitude Law can help. We have helped many people to secure visas, apply for British citizenship and secure settled status in the UK. Thanks to this experience, we can advise you on the conditions of a specific visa, the eligibility requirements to become a British citizen in your particular circumstances, and the effects of any decisions you make on children born in the UK to non-British parents.

Call our offices in London (0044 207 046 7185) or Manchester (0044 161 234 6800) today to learn more, or get in touch using our online enquiry form.

Does a child born in the UK need a visa?

If a child born in the UK is not a British citizen and their parents do not have settled status, they may need a visa – although in most cases, this will mean that they are added to their parents’ visa as a dependant. If the parents are in the UK on a temporary visa – for example, a Seasonal Worker visa (Temporary Work) or a Student visa – the child may need to be added to the parents’ visa as a dependant.

This typically involves applying to the UK Home Office, although it may not be necessary in all cases. The process and requirements will depend on the specific visa category in which the parents are in the UK. There are often additional requirements, fees, and considerations to take into account. Consult a solicitor for information if you are unsure about whether or not this will apply to your situation, and for support in preparing your application or with other aspects of the process.

Children who were born in the UK to non-British parents may need a visa if they intend to return to the UK after having left. For example, if the child leaves the UK for another country and then wishes to return later to visit, work or live, they will often need to apply for a visa. In these cases, the type of visa will depend on the child’s purpose for returning to the UK. However, they will usually be able to apply as a dependant on their parents’ visa if they are under 18 years of age.

It is important to bear in mind that if you want to live and work in the UK, or pursue Indefinite Leave to Remain or settled status, you cannot do this simply by giving birth to a child in the UK. Normally, rights will derive from a child born in the UK only after that child has been in the country for 7 years, or otherwise acquires British citizenship or ILR. There are many legal immigration routes and visas that can act as a pathway to ILR and, ultimately, British citizenship. If that is your goal, speak to the immigration lawyers at Latitude Law to discuss the visa routes that are open to you, and the eligibility requirements that apply.

Contact Latitude Law today on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London), or use our online enquiry form to request a call back at your convenience.