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The British Nationality Act 1981 (c.61) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
concerning British nationality
British nationality
since 1 January 1983.

Contents

1 History 2 Objectives of the Act

2.1 Reclassification of United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and Colonies citizenship 2.2 Modification of jus soli 2.3 Other changes

3 Criticisms 4 See also 5 References 6 External links

History[edit] Further information: History of British nationality
British nationality
law In the mid-1970s the British Government decided to update the nationality code, which had been significantly amended since the British Nationality Act 1948
British Nationality Act 1948
came into force on 1 January 1949. In 1977, a Green Paper was produced by the Labour government outlining options for reform of the nationality code. This was followed in 1980 by a White Paper by the Conservative government that closely followed the Labour proposals. William Whitelaw, the Home Secretary under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was the chief author. The British Nationality Act 1981 received Royal Assent on 30 October 1981 and came into force on 1 January 1983. Both major parties were in agreement on the new law.[1] Subsequently, the British Nationality Act has been significantly amended, including:

British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983 Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Act 1985 and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
(British Nationality) Order 1986 British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1990, which introduced the British Nationality Selection Scheme Hong Kong
Hong Kong
(War Wives and Widows) Act 1996 British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997 Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Act 1999 British Overseas Territories
British Overseas Territories
Act 2002 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Objectives of the Act[edit] The Act had a number of purposes. Reclassification of United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and Colonies citizenship[edit] The Act reclassified Citizenship of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and Colonies (CUKC) into three categories:

British citizenship British Dependent Territories citizenship (BDTC); and British Overseas citizenship.

Since 1962, with the passage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, not all CUKCs had the Right of Abode in the United Kingdom. The Act sought to restore once again the link between citizenship and right of abode by providing that British citizenship—held by those with a close connection with either the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
or with the Crown Dependencies (that is to say, the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
and the Channel Islands), or both—would automatically carry a right of abode in the UK. The other categories of British nationality
British nationality
would not hold such status based on nationality, although in some cases would do so under the immigration laws. Whilst in opposition in 1977, the Conservative Party asked Edward Gardner to chair a study group to provide advice on changes to the nationality laws. The resultant Green paper, "Who Do We Think We Are?", was published in 1980 and its threefold definition of nationality formed the basis for the Government's legislation. Originally the paper proposed just two categories of British nationality, British citizenship
British citizenship
and British Overseas citizenship. However, the British Dependent Territory governments successfully lobbied for an additional category of nationality, which would cater for those with close connections to any of the British territories. Modification of jus soli[edit] The Act also modified the application of jus soli in British nationality. Prior to the Act coming into force, any person born in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(with limited exceptions such as children of diplomats and enemy aliens) was entitled to British citizenship. After the Act came into force, it was necessary for at least one parent of a United Kingdom-born child to be a British citizen or "settled" in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(a permanent resident). Even following the coming into force of the Act, the vast majority of children born in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
still acquire British citizenship at birth. Special
Special
provisions are made for non-British UK born children to acquire British citizenship
British citizenship
in certain circumstances. Other changes[edit] The Act made a variety of other changes to the law:

Mothers as well as fathers were allowed to pass on British citizenship to their children. The term Commonwealth citizen was used to replace British subject. Under the Act, the term British subject was restricted to certain persons holding British nationality
British nationality
through connections with British India
India
or the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
before 1949. Right of Abode could no longer be acquired by non-British citizens. A limited number of Commonwealth citizens holding Right of Abode were allowed to retain it. The rights of Commonwealth and Irish citizens to become British citizens by registration were removed and instead they were to be expected to apply for naturalisation if they wanted to acquire British citizenship. Irish citizens, however, who were, or claim British subject nationality retain their right to acquire British citizenship nationality through registration.[2] Special
Special
provision was made for persons from Gibraltar
Gibraltar
to acquire British citizenship. Women married to British men could no longer acquire British citizenship purely by marriage. British Crown Colonies were renamed British Dependent Territories (subsequently amended to British Overseas Territories) The Channel Islands
Channel Islands
and the Isle of Man, references to which had been construed as references to colonies under the British Nationality Act 1948,[3] were now to be construed as being part of the United Kingdom for nationality purposes.[4]

In some cases, transitional arrangements were made that preserved certain aspects of the old legislation. Most of these expired on 31 December 1987, five years after the Act came into force. Criticisms[edit] Critics argued that one of the main political motivations behind the new law was to deny most Hong Kong-born ethnic Chinese the right of residency in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
in the time preceding the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 and later the handover of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
(then the largest British colony), to the People's Republic of China in 1997. However, persons from Hong Kong
Hong Kong
had lost the automatic right to live in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
in 1962, and the Act did not change the substance of that fact. See British nationality law
British nationality law
and Hong Kong. After the Falklands war, full British citizenship
British citizenship
was granted to the Falkland Islanders by the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983. Other criticisms were leveled at the time at the removal of the automatic right to citizenship by birth in the United Kingdom. However, because UK-born children of permanent residents are automatically British, the number of non-British children born in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is relatively small. Special
Special
provisions made in the Act (for those who do not have another nationality and for those who lived a long time in the United Kingdom) meant there is little pressure for any change to the current law. Similar legislation has been enacted in Australia
Australia
(1986), the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
(2004) and New Zealand (2005). See also[edit]

Denaturalization laws British nationality
British nationality
law History of British nationality
British nationality
law

References[edit]

^ Randall Hansen (2000). Citizenship and Immigration in Postwar Britain. Oxford UP. pp. 207–8.  ^ Laurie Fransman, British Nationality Law (1997) p 238. ^ British Nationality Act 1948: "References in this Act to colonies shall be construed as including references to the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
and the Isle of Man" ^ British Nationality Act 1981, section 50(1): "In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—" ... "“the United Kingdom” means Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Islands, taken together"

External links[edit]

Text of the British Nationality Act 1981 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk (Note that this website does not always include the most recent amendments: see warning on website.)

v t e

British nationality
British nationality
law

Nationality

Principal

British citizen British Overseas Territories
British Overseas Territories
citizen British Overseas citizen British National (Overseas)

Other

British subject Commonwealth citizen British protected person Belonger status EU citizen

Legislation

Current

British Nationality Act 1981 British Overseas Territories
British Overseas Territories
Act 2002 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006

Previous

Sophia Naturalization Act 1705 British Nationality Act 1948 Ireland Act 1949 Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 and 1968 Immigration Act 1971 British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983

General

British Nationality Act

History

British Nationality Selection Scheme Citizen of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and Colonies British nationality law
British nationality law
and the Republic of Ireland British nationality law
British nationality law
and Hong Kong

Immigration

Immigration Act 1971 Indefinite leave to remain Right of Abode (United Kingdom) Common Travel Area

v t e

Members of the Commonwealth of Nations

Sovereign states (Members)

Antigua and Barbuda Australia Bahamas Bangladesh Barbados Belize Botswana Brunei Cameroon Canada Cyprus Dominica Fiji Ghana Grenada Guyana India Jamaica Kenya Kiribati Lesotho Malawi Malaysia Malta Mauritius Mozambique Namibia Nauru New Zealand Nigeria Pakistan Papua New Guinea Rwanda St. Kitts and Nevis St. Lucia St. Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Solomon Islands South Africa Sri Lanka Swaziland Tanzania The Gambia Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tuvalu Uganda United Kingdom Vanuatu Zambia

Dependencies of Members

Australia

Ashmore and Cartier Islands Australian Antarctic Territory Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Coral Sea Islands Heard Island and McDonald Islands Norfolk Island

New Zealand

Cook Islands Niue Ross Dependency Tokelau

United Kingdom

Akrotiri and Dhekelia Anguilla Bermuda British Antarctic Territory British Indian Ocean Territory British Virgin Islands Cayman Islands Falkland Islands Gibraltar Guernsey Isle of Man Jersey Montserrat Pitcairn Islands St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Turks and Caicos Islands

Source: Commonwealth Secretariat - M

.