Sun | May 19, 2019

Immigration Corner | Acquiring dual citizenship as a UK citizen

Published:Tuesday | April 2, 2019 | 12:23 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am a British citizen, but I would like to hold citizenship from another country. I am wondering if I would need to give up my British citizenship.

Please advise me.

MO

Dear MO,

Dual citizenship, which is also known as dual nationality, is allowed in the United Kingdom. This means that persons are able to be a British citizen and also hold citizenships of other countries.

Persons do not need to apply for dual citizenship. They can apply for foreign citizenship and keep their British citizenship. It is important to note that many countries do not accept dual citizenship. Therefore, persons should check with the country’s consulate or embassy in the United Kingdom to find out about that country’s laws on dual nationality.

Just for completeness, it is worth noting that there will be no change to the rights and status of European Union (EU) citizens currently living in the United Kingdom until June 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a deal. Please note that if this applies, persons and their families can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the United Kingdom.

As a dual national, a person cannot get diplomatic help from the British government when they are in the other country where they hold citizenship. For example, if a person holds both British and Chinese citizenship, those persons cannot get diplomatic help from the United Kingdom when they are in China.

Dual citizenship, marriage and dependents

Please be aware that persons do not automatically become a British citizen when they marry a person from the United Kingdom. They will need to apply as the spouse of a British citizen.

It is worthy of note that in some countries, a married person is automatically counted as having their partner’s nationality. In addition, children may also automatically have a parent’s nationality, even if they were born abroad.

It is important that persons check with the country’s consulate or high commission in the United Kingdom to find out about that country’s laws on dual nationality.

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: lawbassie@yahoo.com