By: Simon B
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Coming to live in the UK as a Citizen
Thousands of people come to the UK every year hoping to remain here. Some are allowed to come into the country for a short time and then expected to leave again. Some apply for the right to live and work here. Some apply to become UK citizens, and some are asylum seekers who may have no rights to citizenship but can apply to stay indefinitely on the grounds that it will be dangerous for them to return to their own countries. None of these people has the same rights as UK citizens until they’re granted citizenship. Some may never be granted citizenship but may be allowed to stay with some restrictions. Others are eventually sent home.
You can come into the UK and stay here, without any restrictions, if you’re a UK citizen. People born in the UK before January 1983 are UK citizens. Anyone else is not automatically entitled to UK citizenship. Some people from the former British colonies were allowed to retain full rights to British citizenship, but working out who is entitled can be difficult.
There have been many stories of people coming to the UK and marrying UK citizens so that they themselves become UK citizens. However, you don’t automatically acquire a new British nationality through marriage. You have to apply to become a UK citizen. The marriage itself is not enough. You may be allowed to remain in the country – granted residency, but that’s not the same as having full citizenship rights.
A UK national marrying a foreign national doesn’t lose her right to British nationality and may be entitled to dual nationality – of the UK and of the spouse’s country – if both countries allow dual nationality.