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Q: US citizen wants to find out about UK dual citizenship through ancestry ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: US citizen wants to find out about UK dual citizenship through ancestry
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: kitla-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 22 Jun 2006 15:47 PDT
Expires: 22 Jul 2006 15:47 PDT
Question ID: 740322
My paternal grandfather is British - I think.

He was born of Irish parents in British South Africa in 1903. When he
was 6 years old, they moved to London. Later, during WWI my
great-grandfather fought in the British Army.

I am very interested in trying to obtain dual US/UK citizenship but
can not find out if I am eligible. I have sent emails to consulates
and received no reply.

Does anyone have any information on this? Please let me know.

Subject: Re: US citizen wants to find out about UK dual citizenship through ancestry
Answered By: alanna-ga on 22 Jun 2006 20:50 PDT
Hi kitla-ga -

First off, may I say that I am not an attorney, nor can I give you any
legal advice.  I will just lay out for you the information I've found
through searching the Web.

One of the clearest expositions of the requirements for obtaining a UK
passport  is found at the British High Commission in Australia.  There
you will see how there are slightly different requirements for those
born before and after  January 1, 1983.  This was because of the
British Nationality Act of 1981 which bowed to the times and permitted
citizenship through a mother as well as a father. The Act also
tightened some requirements for citizenship.

In general, if you are born outside the UK before January 1, 1983, 

"Eligibility can only be claimed through the father's line. British
nationality is transmitted ONE GENERATION by descent to an applicant
born overseas with a United Kingdom born father.  A claim does not
usually extend to a United Kingdom born grandfather."

You can claim eligibility through a grandfather only if he was born in
the UK and your father was born in a colony (but not South Africa).

After January 1, l983, eligibility can be claimed through a mother or
father, but only if either was born in the UK or born abroad while the
father was serving in the British Armed Forces or Diplomatic Services.

I double checked by looking at the British Nationality Act of 1981 as
Amended. Section 2 permits acquisition of citizenship by descent
(cannot be passed to children) for the foreign born in following

At the time of the applicant's birth the mother or father is:

"a) is a British citizen otherwise than by descent; or

(b) is a British citizen and is serving [armed or diplomatic services]
outside the United Kingdom;  ...  or

(c) is a British citizen and is serving outside the United Kingdom and
the qualifying territories in service under a [European] Community

In researching your question, I also looked into whether you could
"duck under the net" by claiming a "right to abode" in the UK.  This
would not confer a British passport but would permit you to go and
come freely in the European Community.  Unfortunately, similar
restrictions apply for the right to abode.

As far as the record goes, I'm afraid I'm a bearer of bad news.   The
British High Commission puts it succinctly:

"It is not generally possible to claim citizenship through a UK-born grandparent."

The "not generally possible" opens up the (small) possibility that
there may be loopholes.  An immigration lawyer is the best bet for
finding loopholes if they exist.
Search terms: 

UK citizenship through grandfather

Immigration Act of 1971

All the best, 

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