Do I have a right to abode?
Dear Mr Bassie,
I have heard the term 'right of abode'. What does this term mean and how can this right be proven?
The term 'right of abode' means that a person is allowed to live or work in the United Kingdom without any immigration restrictions. This, in effect, means that a person will not need a visa to go to the United Kingdom and there is no limit on the length of time a person can spend in the country. You should be aware that all British citizens automatically have right of abode in the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth citizens may also have right of abode.
With respect to proving that a person has right of abode, this can be achieved if he or she holds a United Kingdom passport describing him or her as a British citizen or British subject with right of abode. If the person does not possess this then he or she will need to apply for a 'certificate of entitlement'.
Commonwealth citizens may have right of abode in the United Kingdom either because of his or her parents or because he or she is married to a British citizen. A person may also have the right of abode if one of that person's parents was born in the United Kingdom and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when he or she was born or adopted. Also, a person may have this right if he or she was a Commonwealth citizen on December 31, 1982, and did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen, even temporarily, at any point after 31 December 1982.
With respect to marriage, a person can only get right to abode through marriage if that person is a female Commonwealth citizen and is married to someone with right to abode. That person must also have been married before January 1, 1983 and did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen, even temporarily, at any point after December 31, 1982. It should be noted that a person will not have right of abode if that person is a woman and the person she was married to has another living wife or widow who is in the United Kingdom, or has been in the United Kingdom at any time since her marriage, unless that person entered the country illegally, as a visitor or with temporary permission to stay, has been given a certificate of entitlement to right of abode or permission to enter the United Kingdom because of her marriage.
However, a person may still have right of abode if either she entered the United Kingdom as a wife before August 1, 1988, even if other wives of the same man are in the United Kingdom and she has been in the United Kingdom at any time since her marriage and at that time was that man's only wife to have entered the United Kingdom or had been given permission to do so.
All the best.
John S Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org