Garden Court Chambers has the leading barristers in the UK specialising in citizenship and nationality law. Our involvement in many high-profile cases have shaped the law in this area over many decades and our team includes founding and contributing authors to the leading textbooks on nationality law.
British citizenship grants an individual full rights to live, work, travel and vote in the UK. There are a number of routes to citizenship, which can be obtained either by way of an entitlement or by discretion. These include naturalisation, registration or automatic acquisition.
Areas of Expertise
- Legal advice on the law and procedure governing citizenship
- Identifying the best route to citizenship in your own particular circumstances
- Independent assessment of the prospects of qualifying for British Citizenship
- Meticulous preparation of applications for the best chance of success
- Specialist expertise on applications that do not meet the strict citizenship requirements
- Advising on the merits of challenging Home Office refusals of citizenship by way of reconsideration and judicial reviews applications
- Expert representation in court following a deprivation or revocation of citizenship
british citizenship by naturalisation
In order to naturalise as a British citizen you must have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) or have acquired a right of Permanent Residence (‘PR’) in the uk (including under the Settled Status scheme).
Applicants must also:
- have held ILR or PR for at least 12 months before they can apply to naturalise;
- be 18 years old or over;
- meet specific residence and absence requirements – have lived in the UK for at least 5 years prior to the date of their application, and had no more than 450 days absence from the UK in the last 5 years, and no more than 90 days in the last 12 months;
- intend to have their home in the UK (or principal home if there is more than one);
- be of ‘good character’;
- be of ‘sound mind’;
- meet the English Language requirements (unless an exemption applies);
- have passed the Life in the UK test (unless an exemption applies); and
- supply suitable references.
Spouses and civil partners of a British citizen must satisfy slightly different eligibility requirements:
- There is no requirement for individuals to have held ILR or PR for 12 months;
- They must demonstrate residence in the UK for a period of 3 years; and
- Absences should not exceed 270 in the last 3 years, and 90 in the last 12 months.
Our specialist immigration barristers have the skills and experience to help you navigate the complexities of nationality law for the best chance of success for your application for naturalisation. We are experienced at advising on the chances of naturalising as a British citizen notwithstanding issues of good character that may arise from past unlawful residence in the UK or criminal convictions.
British citizenship by registration
You can apply to register a child under 18 years old as a British Citizen. Different criteria apply depending on whether the child was born in the UK or abroad.
The Home Office will consider factors such as the child or adult’s connection with the UK, their parents’ nationality and immigration status and for those over the age of 10 years old, whether they are of ‘good character.’
There are various routes for different circumstances, including:
- A child born in the UK since 1983 where one parent has become a British citizen or has settled status since the child’s birth
- A child having lived in the UK until they were 10 years old
- A child whose parents are applying for British citizenship
- Children of EEA nationals who have PR or Settled Status
- Other children for whom the Home Office might exercise discretion
In some circumstances, adults may also be eligible to register as British citizens, for example if they have another form of British nationality such as British Overseas Territories Citizen, a British National (Overseas), a British Overseas citizen, a British subject, or a British protected person.
Our skilled barristers can help you identify which route is available in your circumstances and will assist you in navigating the complexities of nationality law to ensure you have the best chance of securing British citizenship by registration.
British citizenship by automatic acquisition
Some individuals may automatically be entitled to British citizenship by law, without having to make an application.
The most common of these circumstances are as follows:
- You were born before 1 January 1983 and prior to that date you were a Citizen of the UK and Colonies with a right of abode in the United Kingdom.
- You were born outside the UK on or after 1 January 1983 and at the time of your birth either your father or your mother was a British citizen otherwise than by descent;
- You were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 and at the time of your birth either your father or mother was a British citizen or was settled (had Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK
If as a result of your circumstances you automatically acquire British citizenship, you will be eligible to apply for a British passport straight away. Our expert barristers will be able to assess the precise circumstances of each case for an adult or child’s entitlement to British citizenship by automatic acquisition, and can assist with any application for a passport if necessary.
dual or multiple nationalities
Our barristers regularly advise on the conflict of nationality laws for people who hold or seek to hold both British nationality and other foreign nationalities, where the other country is intolerant of multiple nationalities. We act in partnership with foreign lawyers to resolve the conflict of laws between nationality law codes, as well as issues concerning domicile and tax. We also advise on the use of passports as markers of nationality.
deprivation of british citizenship and statelessness
The power to deprive a British citizen of their status has been widened so that it can be exercised in all kinds of circumstances. The Immigration Act 2014 allows deprivation even where it might leave an individual stateless.
Our barristers have acted and advised in many cases where the right to British citizenship has been deprived or revoked, including where young children’s status is potentially affected by the decision. We regularly work on cases concerning stateless persons, assisting with the regularisation of their status and their welfare.
We also provide consultancy services in this area for NGOs and international organisations.
why choose garden court?
Garden Court’s Immigration Team is recognised as the pre-eminent set of barristers in the UK for immigration law. We are the only set of barristers awarded the highest ‘Band 1’ status for immigration law by the independent Chambers Bar Guide rankings. You can be assured your case will be handled with unrivalled levels of expertise.
We have an extensive understanding of the immigration system and have seen every kind of immigration problem. Our barristers have appeared in many of the cases that have shaped immigration law in the UK. We understand the way that government decision-makers and judges think and are therefore very well placed to advise on how best to present a case from the earliest stages. The leading guides for immigration lawyers have been written by members of our immigration law team.
If you want the highest level of expertise you may want to instruct one of our senior barristers who is well known in the immigration Tribunal system and has very extensive legal experience. You may alternatively prefer to instruct a ‘junior’, who will still be experienced and knowledgeable, but can handle cases more cost-effectively. We have a barrister to suit every situation, backed up by a sophisticated support team that will help you every step of the way.