Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Immigration Corner | Is a Commonwealth citizen entitled to right of abode in the UK?

Published:Tuesday | October 26, 2021 | 12:06 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am a Commonwealth citizen and I would like to know if I could be entitled to right of abode in the United Kingdom (UK) because my parent has right of abode.

– TJ

Dear TJ,

To have the right of abode means that persons are allowed to live and/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 that there is no limit on the length of time that they can spend in the country.

Please note that all British citizens automatically have right of abode in the United Kingdom, and some Commonwealth citizens may also have right of abode.

Usually, persons can prove that they have right of abode if they have a United Kingdom passport describing them as a British citizen or British subject with right of abode. If they do not possess this, they will need to apply for a ‘certificate of entitlement’.

Commonwealth citizens 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.

PARENTS

Persons will have right of abode if all the following apply:

• One of their parents was born in the United Kingdom and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when they were 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.

MARRIAGE

Persons can only get right to abode through marriage if they are female Commonwealth citizens.

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.

Persons will usually not have right of abode if the person they were 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 marriage; that is 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.

However, 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.

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: lawbassie@yahoo.com