Immigration Corner | What is British overseas citizen status?
Dear Mr Bassie,
Please explain what the status of ‘British overseas citizen’ means. Thanks in advance.
Persons became British overseas citizens on January 1, 1983, if both of the following criteria applied: They were citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies on December 31, 1982, and they did not become either a British citizen or a British overseas territories citizen on January 1, 1983.
Other persons who were eligible were those who were British overseas territories citizens only because of their connection with Hong Kong, and who lost that citizenship on June 30, 1997, when sovereignty returned to China.
Those persons became British overseas citizens if either they had no other nationality and would have become stateless, or if they were born on or after July 1, 1997, and would have been born stateless if one of their parents was a British national (overseas) or British overseas citizen when they were born.
RIGHTS AS A BRITISH OVERSEAS CITIZEN
Persons can hold a British passport and get consular assistance and protection from United Kingdom diplomatic posts. However, it should be noted that unless persons are also British citizens:
• They are still subject to immigration controls;
• They do not have the automatic right to live or work in the UK;
• They are not considered UK nationals by the European Union (EU) .
OBTAINING BRITISH OVERSEAS CITIZEN STATUS
Persons can only apply to become a British overseas citizen in limited circumstances.
Persons may be able to register as British overseas citizens if they are stateless (that is, not recognised by any country as having a nationality), and both of the following apply:
• They were born in the UK or an overseas territory;
• One of their parents is a British overseas citizen.
You may also be able to register if they are stateless and all of the following apply:
• They were born outside the UK and qualifying territories;
• One of their parents is a British overseas citizen;
• They have lived in the UK or an overseas territory for three years or more.
They have to fill in different forms, depending on whether they were:
• Born before January 1, 1983 – those persons should read the guidance and fill in Form S1;
• Born on or after January 1, 1983 – those persons should read the guidance and fill in Form S2.
A child under 18 years old can be registered as a British overseas citizen in special circumstances. Those details are outlined in the guidance notes and should be read before applying by using Form MN3.
Please note that persons may be able to register as a British citizen if they are a British overseas citizen and meet certain conditions.
I hope this helps.
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, global vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org