Nationality and Borders Bill – a view from Breytenbachs

Nationality and Borders Bill
Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

The Nationality and Borders bill is now at the committee stage in the House of Commons.  It has new provisions for British nationality, which as usual, are very complicated.  We have tried to outline the main ones below in the simplest terms.

Provisions for British Nationality

Firstly, there are new provisions (4L and 17H) for registration as a British citizen or British overseas territories citizen of an adult to remediate “exceptional circumstances” relating to that person or “historic legislative unfairness”. That is legislation that did not treat males and females equally or the child of a parent married to a third party.  There was a lot of such legislation, and the potential effect of these provisions is very wide, and the Home Office’s documentation is likely to be lengthy and complex.

Secondly, opportunities have been added for obtaining British overseas territories citizenship (BOTC) through a connection with an existing “British overseas territory”. These territories include St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

Roughly speaking, under the Nationality and Borders bill as it is currently:

  • For those born before 1983, there are opportunities for acquisition of BOTC through a person’s mother or her parents (which did not exist before).  
  • For those born out of wedlock before 1983, there are opportunities to acquire BOTC through a father or mother.
  • For those born out of wedlock between January 1983 and June 2006, there are opportunities to acquire BOTC through a father.
  • For the children of those who register under one of the avenues above, there are some limited opportunities to pass BOTC to their minor children under certain existing registration provisions.

These changes for BOTC are roughly equivalent to the changes that were made some years ago to laws for British citizenship to overcome gender and illegitimacy discrimination.  And BOTC can usually be converted to British citizenship by registration.

The good news is that nothing appears to have been taken away as had been feared when the Nationality and Borders bill was announced.

The new Nationality and Borders bill thus has several exciting provisions affecting British nationality, and there should be many more opportunities. Many people who have missed out on British citizenship because their father or mother or a grandparent lost UK citizenship under independence legislation may have a solution.

Many persons in South Africa with links to St Helena or Tristan de Cunha through a mother or maternal grandparents should get new opportunities, including treatment like the Romein case. 

We will analyse in detail the Act that emerges and the documentation the Home Office publishes on its interpretation.”

How Breytenbachs can help you

Persons seeking British nationality should submit an enquiry on the Breytenbachs website if they have not done so.