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UK citizenship not automatic

Published:Thursday | March 25, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Tennesia Malcolm, Gleaner Writer

Many people would like to believe once a child is born in a particular country, he or she automatically becomes a citizen of that state. Sadly, this is not the case.

There is no one hard and fast rule governing how this situation is dealt with in the United Kingdom.

The official website,, specifically speaks to three categories under which children born in the UK to foreign nationals can become British citizens.

If say a Jamaican bears a child while legally settled in the UK, that child will automatically qualify for citizenship. According to the website, "The registration would be under section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981."

Discretion employed

If, however, the mother is not settled in the UK but the father is a British citizen, and they're unmarried, that child is seen as illegitimate. And until July 2006 could not acquire citizenship by virtue of the father's status.

For those children born under such circumstances before the said date, measures have been put in place for these offspring to be made British citizens. In this case, the British government would employ discretion in granting such a status provided a few requirements are met, which include proof of paternity and universal parental consent.

For those Jamaicans living in Britain who are in the process of applying for citizenship, again at the government's discretion, they can register the child under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981. The website goes on to state that "we will normally only register the child if both parents are granted or already hold British citizenship, or if one parent holds British citizenship and the other is settled in the United Kingdom."