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The previous term for those with a right of abode, used until 1983.

EEA nationals exercising their right of free movement in the UK and their family and extended family members acquire permanent residence after five years. This is the equivalent of having indefinite leave to remain in the UK for EEA nationals.

In 2008 the UK changed the way in which it allowed people to come to the UK for work and business, creating a system with a smaller number of categories, arranged in tiers. In each tier, applicants need to score a minimum number of points to qualify.

Certificate provided by the police to those non-Commonwealth, non-EEA citizens who are required to register with them while residing in the UK.

A term used in the Immigration Rules. In many immigration categories it is a requirement that a person can support themselves without relying on a wide range, and in many cases any, state welfare benefits.


Short for "Accession 2”: Bulgaria and Romania, who joined the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007.


Short for "Accession 8”: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The eight of the ten countries joining the European Union (EU) on 1 May 2004 whose nationals’ rights to work in the UK have been limited. Limitations on working in the UK can continue until 2011, but may be lifted before then. No limitations were imposed on the rights of citizens of Cyprus and Malta, the other two 2004 accession states, to work.


Used to describe the process of a country joining the European Union (EU).


The old name for people hearing appeals in immigration and asylum cases. These people have been renamed immigration judges and the tribunal in which they sit, originally called the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) has been renamed the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT).

Administrative court

(‘Admin Court’) A division of the UK High Court, the first level of national courts, which deals in particular with applications for judicial review.


This has a particular meaning in UK immigration and nationality law. Currently, aliens are people who are not British citizens, Commonwealth citizens, British Protected Persons or citizens of the Republic of Ireland. At different times in history, different groups of people have been categorised as aliens.

Ancestry Status

A term used in the Immigration Rules for the status of Commonwealth citizens aged 17 or over with a UK-born grandparent, who can make an application on the basis of this relationship to come to the UK for work, and ultimately for settlement.

Association Agreement

A trade treaty between the European Union (EU) and another country. The term is particularly used in immigration law for agreements that give individuals of the non-EU country opportunities to undertake business and self-employment in countries of the EEA. There were association agreements with states that have now joined the European Union (EU), such as Bulgaria and Romania, but the main agreement is now with Turkey.

Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT)

The tribunal that hears appeals against refusals in asylum and immigration cases. Members of the AIT are called immigration judges. It was previously called the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA). The old IAA was divided into adjudicators and the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT).

Asylum seeker

A term used to refer to a person requesting recognition as a refugee in the UK, whose application has not yet been decided. In some specific contexts, the definition includes people seeking other protection, for example under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Border and Immigration Agency (BIA)

The old name for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), the part of the UK Home Office dealing with immigration and nationality law. Now defunct.

British Citizen

The main form of British nationality, but not the only one: see also British overseas territories citizens, British overseas citizens, British subjects and British Nationals (Overseas). British citizens have the right freely to enter, remain in and to leave the UK (also known in immigration law as the right of abode). They are subdivided into two groups; those who can pass their nationality to their children, who are called British citizens otherwise than by descent, and those who cannot, who are called British citizens by descent.

British Dependent Territories

Now renamed British Overseas Territories.

This term is no longer current: BDTCs were renamed British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTCs) in 2002 but, at the same time, they were all made British citizens except for those connected with the Sovereign Bases on Cyprus. The term is still relevant in nationality law, when looking at a person’s former status. BDTCs had a link with a British territory. They kept that status for as long as the country was a colony. It gave them a right of abode in the territory, but no right to enter the UK and no right of abode in the UK.

British Nationality Act 1981

This law (Act of parliament) came into force in 1983. Although it has been updated several times, it is still the basis of modern British nationality law.

British Nationals (Overseas) (BN (O))

A form of British nationality for people who were British Dependent Territories Citizens in Hong Kong when Hong Kong was returned to China. Having this status does not give a right of abode in enter any country, although it is possible to obtain, and to travel on, a BN(O) passport.

British Overseas Citizens (BOCs)

BOCs are people who were born in a British colony but, when that colony became independent, did not become nationals of that colony and held no other nationality. The status of BOC does not confer a right of abode in the UK or anywhere in the world, although certain BOCs can apply for British citizenship.

British Overseas Territories

Places that are still connected with, and not wholly independent of, the UK. Previously called British Dependent Territories. The current British Overseas Territories are Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctica, the British Indian Ocean Territory (the Chagos Islands, including the island of Diego Garcia), the Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, St Helen, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Virgin Islands and the sovereign air bases of Akrotiri and Dhelekia on Cyprus.

British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTCS)

Citizens of the British Overseas Territories, who have not become British citizens. The status also renames what was formerly called British Dependent Territories citizenship. At the same time as the status was renamed, people who were BOTCs, except those connected with the sovereign bases on Cyprus, became British citizens. New BOTCS, with the exception of those connected with the sovereign bases, or who have renounced British citizenship, can become British citizens.

British Protected Persons (BPPs)

People from a country formerly under British protection, who did not acquire the nationality of that country when it became independent, or the nationality of any other country.

British subjects

People from former colonies who did not acquire the nationality of those countries when they became independent, and did not become citizens of the UK and Commonwealth (CUKCs) and who have not acquired the nationality of any other country. In the early stages of British nationality law, the term had a wider meaning.

Certificate of Approval (CoA)

People who are not EEA nationals are required to obtain permission from the Home Secretary before marrying or contracting a civil partnership in the UK. The permission is issued as a certificate of approval.

Certificate of Entitlement

A passport endorsement indicating that the holder has the right of abode in the United Kingdom.

Civil Partners

Civil partnership was introduced into UK law in October 2005 and allows same-sex couples to make a legal commitment similar to marriage. In general, no distinction is made in the Immigration Rules between spouses and civil partners.

Common Travel Area

The common travel area is made up of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. In broad terms, people travelling from elsewhere in the common travel area to the United Kingdom are not subject to immigration control.

Commonwealth Citizens

This group includes all types of British national, except British Protected Persons, and all citizens of Commonwealth countries.

Convention reasons

Under the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees a person outside their country of origin is only a refugee if they face persecution on the grounds of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. These five are together known as the ‘Convention reasons’.

Council of Europe (CoE)

Over 40 European states, and thus larger than the European Union (EU). The source of international agreements affecting immigration, asylum and nationality, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Court of Appeal (CA)

The second level of national court in the UK, in between the High Court and the House of Lords.

CUKC (Citizen of the UK and Commonwealth)

Until 1983 this was the form of British nationality held by British nationals in the UK and other people born within a UK colony. It was not the same as the status of Commonwealth citizen.

Curtailment of leave

Curtailment means ‘cutting short’ and in immigration law the term is a reference to cutting short a person’s leave. This might be done where the person does not observe the conditions on which the leave was granted, or where they have ceased to satisfy the requirements of the Immigration Rules for their particular category of leave.


The government has powers to remove people who have no leave to be in the UK from the country. It can use administrative powers of removal, or the more serious power of deportation. A person who is deported from the UK cannot return until the deportation order has been lifted, or ‘revoked’. Deportation is normally reserved for cases where a person has committed a criminal offence or is considered a threat to national security.


The name given to decisions of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). In a higher court these would be called judgements.

Discretionary Leave (DL)

Leave given outside the Immigration Rules in exceptional cases.


The country in which a person feels they belong and where that person intends to settle for the rest of their life. This is usually the country in which the person was born and grew up, the "domicile or origin”. This can be changed only by a conscious decision to settle and stay in another country and thus acquire a 'domicile of choice'. Domicile is not an immigration status, but can affect immigration decisions where it is necessary to look at national laws to establish a person’s status, for example whether they are married or adopted.

Dual Citizenship/Dual Nationals

Terms used for people who hold citizenship of more than one country. The UK allows dual nationality, as do most countries in the world. A few countries do not, and people who wish to take the citizenship of those countries are expected to give up all other citizenships.

Dublin II Convention

A European Union (EU) Convention which determines which European Union country is responsible for deciding an application for asylum. People can be sent from the country in which they try to claim asylum to the country held to be responsible under the agreement. This is the second version of the agreement, hence the roman numeral for ‘two’ in the name.


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