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Citizenship and You: It’s Not a Birth Right Anymore
People born in the UK before the first of January 1983 were automatically entitled to British citizenship or nationality just because they were born here. No other qualification was needed. The laws have been tightened up since that time.
When a child is born, he usually takes the nationality of the father or of the place where he was born. If your father was a British citizen and you were born in another country, you can choose which country you become a citizen of or which nationality you have. In some cases, you can have dual nationality if both countries allow dual nationality. The UK does; the United States doesn’t.
If a baby is born abroad and has a British mother and a French father, for example, the parents can apply for the baby to have UK nationality, and it’s up to the Secretary of State to decide. If the parents weren’t married at the time of the birth, a baby born in the UK can have British nationality if the mother is a British citizen or is settled in the UK, but it is no longer automatically a British citizen by virtue of being born in the UK. A baby whose parents aren’t married and who are born outside the UK is entitled to British nationality only if her mother is a British citizen, but that may not be the case if the mother was born abroad. As you can see, working out citizenship if a baby is born here with foreign parents, or abroad with a British parent, can be difficult. It’s even more difficult for people wanting to come to the UK and obtain UK citizenship.