Immigration Corner | Can I claim 'right of abode'?
Dear Mr Bassie,
Please explain under what circumstances a Commonwealth citizen may claim right of abode.
All British citizens automatically have right of abode in the United Kingdom, and some Commonwealth citizens may also have right of abode.
Those persons having right of abode can live or work in the United Kingdom without any immigration restrictions, which means that they will not need a visa to go to the United Kingdom, and there is no limit on the length of time they can spend there.
Persons can prove they have right of abode if they hold a United Kingdom passport that describes them as a British citizen or British subject with right of abode. If this is not the case, they will need to apply for a 'certificate of entitlement'. Persons should be aware that there has been no change to the rights and status of European Union (EU) nationals in the United Kingdom and United Kingdom nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum.
Persons may have right of abode in the United Kingdom either because of their parents or because they are or were married to someone with right of abode. Persons may also have right of abode if all the following apply: one of their parents was born in the United Kingdom and was a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when born or adopted; they were Commonwealth citizens on December 31, 1982; they did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen, even temporarily, at any point after December 31, 1982.
Persons can only get right to abode through marriage if they are a female Commonwealth citizen. Those persons must have been married to someone with right of abode before January 1, 1983; not stopped being a Commonwealth citizen, even temporarily, at any point after December 31, 1982.
It should also be noted that persons will not usually have right of abode if they were married to someone who has another living wife or widow who is in the United Kingdom, or has been in the United Kingdom at any time since their marriage, unless they entered the country illegally, came as a visitor, or only have temporary permission to stay; has a certificate of entitlement to right of abode or permission to enter the United Kingdom because of marriage.
Nevertheless, it must be stated that persons may still have right of abode if they entered the United Kingdom while married and before August 1, 1988, even if their husband has other wives in the United Kingdom; they have been in the United Kingdom since their marriage, and at that time, were their husband's only wife to have legally entered the United Kingdom or been given permission to do so.
- 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).