British Nationality Act and Roehrig Bring Good News for Children of EEA Citizens

Following the case of Roehrig, Breytenbachs have wonderful news for our EEA clients and their children.

Implications of the enactment of Section 50B

Earlier this year, the UK Government announced a new bill, the British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023. This bill was enacted on 29 June 2023. This act inserts a new section, 50B, into the British Nationality Act 1981. Section 50B definitively and retrospectively confirms the British nationality status of all children born in the UK between 1 January 1983 and 1 October 2000 to an EU citizen parent who was exercising free movement in the UK at the time of their child’s birth.

Now that the new legislation has been passed, children born in the UK between 1 January 1983 and 1 October 2000 to an EEA/Swiss parent who was exercising Treaty rights (but did not hold indefinite leave to remain) should be able to apply for a British passport directly. This applies even if they have never applied for a passport before or renewed an existing passport.

Previous Policy

Previously, it has been the Home Office’s policy to confer British citizenship to children born in the UK between 1 January 1983 and 1 October 2000 if at least one parent was an EEA national exercising Treaty Rights in the UK. EEA nationals were considered to exercise Treaty Rights if they were mainly working, self-employed, or self-sufficient in the UK. This policy changed on 2 October 2000, when the Home Office withdrew it and published new guidance stating that EEA nationals had to apply for indefinite leave to remain in order to be deemed settled.

The case of Roehrig, delivered by the High Court in January 2023, confirmed that the restrictive approach applied by the Home Office since 2000 was the correct interpretation of the British Nationality Act 1981. This meant that EEA parents exercising rights of free movement were not considered settled. As a result, the children born to these European nationals were not born British.

However, with the new British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023, the British government has now rectified the situation. This brings relief to EEA nationals whose children’s applications for new British passports or passport renewals have been previously refused. The new legislation will protect their children’s nationality rights.

How Breytenbachs can help you following the Roehrig Case

Breytenbachs has a team of experts specialising in the rights of EEA nationals. We can provide assistance and information regarding this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further details.

Please contact us today for further information or applications.

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