The British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981) provides that a person born in the United Kingdom is automatically a British citizen if, at the time of birth, the person’s father or mother is either a British citizen, is settled in the UK or is a member of the armed forces, Section 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981. Should one or both of the parents obtain British nationality or settle in the UK whilst the person is still a minor, an application can be made for that minor to be registered as British by virtue of the BNA 1981, Section 1(3).
The Nationality Act 1948 provided that a person born in the UK before 1 January 1983 was British by birth regardless of the status of the parents and only a few very limited exceptions applied.
The change in legislation has led to a number of actions to establish British nationality, particularly for those born prior to 1983 when the BNA 1981 came into force.
In the recent decision R (Din) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, the facts surrounding the date of birth and name of the claimant caused the initial refusal of her application for recognition as a British citizen. Yasmeen Din was born in Oxford, UK, on 26 June 1968 to Pakistani parents and in accordance with the provisions of the BNA 1948, was a British citizen at birth. The SSHD however disputed this claim due to documents provided by Pakistani authorities, which had been issued in the wrong name and with the wrong date of birth. The saving grace in this particular case was that these documents did in fact record the correct details of Ms Din’s parents.
Using the precedent set down in Harrison v SSHD 2003, Michael Fordham QC, sitting as Deputy High Court Judge, decided to resolve any issues of fact, as well as any issues of law. Having been presented with DNA evidence and hearing witness evidence, Michael Fordham QC decided that Yasmeen Din was in fact who she said she was and further that she was born in Oxford on 26 June 1968. Her claim for British citizenship therefore succeeded. The court’s application of Harrison v SSHD 2003 in this case, in terms of establishing the facts in addition to issues of law, provides an authoritative potential solution for those seeking to overturn decisions which refuse to recognise them as British citizens.
Sadly, applicants are not always able to obtain historic documentary evidence to support their claim for automatic citizenship, which can lead to the refusal of an application. In some cases, when making an application for a British passport on the basis of an automatic claim to British citizenship, Her Majesty’s Passport Office will make extensive checks into the facts surrounding the applicant’s birth. These checks can result in refusal and it is in these cases that applicants struggle to obtain evidence to dispute the decision made by the Passport Office.
Gherson are experts in assisting with various immigration matters. If you need assistance or wish to receive some more information regarding your immigration matters, please contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.