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Life as a UK Citizen

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 15 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Life As A Uk Citizen

Becoming a UK citizen is about more than a piece of paper or attending a citizenship ceremony. All those living as citizens of the UK have certain rights and responsibilities which must be observed and respected.

The UK does not have a written constitution as such. However, over many hundreds of years certain rights and responsibilities have become enshrined either through common law, statute law, European law or simply through custom and practice. The Human Rights Act 1989 gave effect in the UK to the European Convention on Human Rights which sets out the fundamental human rights deemed to apply to all citizens.

The Legal Rights of a UK Citizen

Underlying many of the rights and responsibilities of UK citizens is a sense of fairness which is central to life in the UK. Essentially UK citizens are permitted to live and work as they wish so long as they do not harm or interfere with the rights of others.

The relevant law in the UK is often far less prescriptive than in some other countries. For example, the right to free speech is considered by many to be central to the concept of being British. Many UK citizens believe passionately that this right overrides all other considerations including the offence or threat that may be posed by some citizens when exercising this right.

All UK citizens have the right to be treated fairly and equally regardless of their gender, race, age, religion, sexual preferences, political persuasion or any disability that they may have. UK citizens must respect the rights of their fellow citizens even if they find their way of life objectionable or offensive.

Specific rights also apply to children, employees, those with disabilities and married couples or those in civil partnerships. A parent’s rights to make decisions in respect of their children are not automatic and are derived from the concept of “parental responsibility”.

Freedom of Information

Since January 2005 all UK citizens have had the right to demand access to information about them held by public organisations. This right was introduced pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The types of organisations covered by the Act include schools, doctors, hospitals and the police.

To exercise this right, a written request should be sent to the relevant organisation setting out the information that is required – requests should be as specific as possible. In some cases the organisation may charge a nominal fee and should provide the information within approximately a month if able to do so. Some information is exempt from disclosure. There are a number of reasons why this may be the case including national security and parliamentary or legal privilege.

The Responsibilities of UK Citizens

As well as enjoying these rights all UK citizens have a responsibility to respect the rights of others. UK citizens must also obey UK laws and regulations. UK citizens who are parents must protect and care for their children until they are at least 16 and must ensure that all children between the ages of 5 and 16 attend full-time education.

Withdrawal of UK Citizenship

Foreign nationals who have become naturalised British citizens should be aware that this is a privilege which can be revoked. The UK Border Agency can take away a person’s British citizenship at any time if they consider that it would be in the public interest to do so. UK citizenship that is found to have been acquired by fraud, through false statements or by the applicant having concealed relevant information will be withdrawn. The formal term for this is deprivation of citizenship.

In cases where citizenship should never have been granted in the first place or was granted in error, it may be treated as a “nullity”. The effect is as if the individual was never a UK citizen. In the case of either deprivation or nullity the individual may subsequently face deportation from the UK.

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I am a Canadian citizen with a welsh paternal grandfather. I wish to retire in the UK where my mother (not a citizen but given indefinite leave to stay) lives.Also considering marrying or living with British citizen upon retirement. Is there a 'retirement' visa where you have to demonstrate certain income/month to be granted landed status? with marriage/living together is it hard to get a visa to stay for 3 years. What is your right to use the NHS system while waiting to become a citizen under these scenarious?
geoffs - 15-Oct-19 @ 7:51 PM
I am considering marrying a citizen of Botswana, she is a 53 year old school principal. Why are there no simple answers to our questions and why is the system so convoluted. All we wish to do is mrry and reside in the UK, I am a British Citizen with several hundred years of British ancestry. and served my country as a soldier for 12 years, she is a Commonwealth citizen.
old soldier - 23-Aug-19 @ 7:59 AM
Hi GM I was living inthe UK me and my husbandwe are from JamaicaI gotpregnantbut at the time I give birthI was illegalanywaymy husbandbecameabusiveso I ran awayback to JamaicaI leavemy daughterwho was abouttwo at the timeher dadleave heralone in the houseand social worker took her awaythey contactme and bring hertome IJamaicaI then move to Antiguawhere she come to live with me she were she obtain Antigua citizenship now shecome back to the UK I understand that shecan't get British citizen she is 17yr whatcan I do she wantsto go to collegeandlive there
Genesis - 19-May-19 @ 3:16 PM
Hi, I am a UK citizen living in London. My wife is Canadian currently living in the Republic of Ireland working as a doctor. We had our religious ceremony in March 2019 and she will be planning to live with me in 2020. We have been together for 2 years. How can we legally get married in England?
Kg - 17-May-19 @ 9:09 PM
@Senator - Your child can register as a British citizen using the MN1 before she becomes 10 years old form if she was born in the UK. She will have to pay the normal fee for registering as a British citizen.
TJ. - 4-Feb-19 @ 2:30 PM
Hi, I am a Nigeria but I recently got naturalised as a British citizen after living in the UK for 10 years. I have a daughter born in the UK who is 9 years old and I now want to register her as a British citizen as well.My question is can my new status be considered when registering my daughter i.eshe will be seen as a daughter of a British citizen or would she only qualify for the 10 year rule for children born and living continuously in the uk? since she wasn't born automatically as a British citizen would she need to pay same amount of application fee as children of non- British parents. I am a bit confused, any help will be much appreciated. Thanks
Senator - 4-Feb-19 @ 11:25 AM
@Ninabakun - You and your husband will need to apply for Permanent Residency documents before you can apply for British citizenship. You will also have to apply for British citizenship separately from your husband. Your baby is already most likely a British citizen. The UK government treats you as a Home Student if you have lived anywhere in the EU for the last 3 years.
TJ. - 3-Oct-18 @ 11:05 AM
Hello, my husband is living in the UK continiusly for 12 years, we both are Polish citizens. I have joined him 5 years ago. He is planning to apply for british citizenship next year and I am wondering, If he’ll be recignised as british citizen am I automatically granted citizenship as well as his wife? In addition our baby was born in the UK and we’re both are workers and students at University, but I have been rejected two times for student finances, is there any chance I will be treated as a home student not an european one as a wife of british citizen?
Ninabakun - 3-Oct-18 @ 8:42 AM
Hi, I'd be glad to get some advice on how to settle down in London. I was born in the UK but left for Nigeria with my parents at a tender age. I've processed and gotten my UK passport and though a bit nervous, I've decided to leave Nigeria. I would be leaving in a week. The problem is I don't know anyone in London or the UK. Any advice on how I can get settled once I land in London. Regards.
CB - 1-Jun-18 @ 10:48 PM
Mandy33 - Your Question:
I have a partner who has been here for 20 years and was originally born in Portugal, he had a portugeuse I.D which has bow expired, is he entitled to make an application for a British passport and if so how does he go about this?

Our Response:
EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least six years are eligible to apply for British citizenship if they would like to do so. The eligibility requirements can be found here.
AboutImmigration - 6-Oct-17 @ 12:40 PM
I have a partner who has been here for 20 years and was originally born in Portugal, he had a portugeuse I.D which has bow expired, is he entitled to make an application for a British passport and if so how does he go about this?
Mandy33 - 3-Oct-17 @ 12:44 AM
TeeJay - Your Question:
I am British married to an Italian 7 Years ago, living in Italy. We are both retired. If we wanted to return to the Uk, what are my husband's rights , and what do we have to do?

Our Response:
At the moment you can return to the UK and there will not be a problem until the Brexit negotiations are finalised. If you want to return to the UK, it would be better sooner rather than later, please see link here. Otherwise, you would have to be already established here to be able to apply to bring your husband to the UK to live, please see link here . You would also have to fulfil the requirements listed, both financial and otherwise.
AboutImmigration - 24-Aug-17 @ 3:02 PM
I am British married to an Italian 7 Years ago, living in Italy. We are both retired. If we wanted to return to the Uk, what are my husband's rights , and what do we have to do?
TeeJay - 22-Aug-17 @ 4:51 PM
FrostyPixie - Your Question:
I married a UK citizen in Canada almost five years ago. Currently he is a permanent resident in Canada and living with us of course. We want to move to England with my children for various reasons, mostly involving the education system here. We have no idea where to start. Would the kids and I just travel there as visitors and then apply for permanent resident status when we get inside the UK? We will be married five years in August, will this make it any easier for us to move there. How quickly can we accomplish this. Thanks so much for reading.

Our Response:
Your spouse would have to be classed as being 'ordinarily resident' in the UK to be able to apply for you and your children to come to the UK to stay for a period of time live. Please see link here which will tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 15-Jun-17 @ 4:00 PM
I married a UK citizen in Canada almost five years ago. Currently he is a permanent resident in Canada and living with us of course. We want to move to England with my children for various reasons, mostly involving the education system here. We have no idea where to start. Would the kids and I just travel there as visitors and then apply for permanent resident status when we get inside the UK? We will be married five years in August, will this make it any easier for us to move there. How quickly can we accomplish this. Thanks so much for reading.
FrostyPixie - 9-Jun-17 @ 10:35 PM
Hi, I would really appreciate some advice. I am a Swedish passport holder, born and raised in Sweden by Swedish parents. I moved to England permanently 23 years ago and have been married to a British citizen for 20 years. Our two children were born here and we have no plans to leave this country. My question is, do I really need to apply for neutralisation before applying for my first British passport? I know that, as a Swede, I am allowed dual passports and having lived in this country for so long it seems silly that I should need to go through and pay for all of that just to get a passport!Could someone please advice. Thank you!
Nanne - 4-Apr-17 @ 4:19 PM
I am a British citizenand want to marry my partner who has indefinite leave to remain granted on compassionate grounds because she was seeking asylum prior to the indefinite .She has lived in the U.K.for about 17yrs this year and got the indefinite leave to remain in 2009.Do we need to apply to apply for a licence from the home office before we can marry.
Jay - 3-Feb-17 @ 7:25 PM
Benny - Your Question:
I married to British man 6 years ago. He works abroad & we both live abroad.I have 5 years multiple visit visa. so we go every year for summer holidays (2 months) I am not living in UK. How can I apply for my UK citizenship? As I am not living in UK. I really want to became British Citizen.

Our Response:
You cannot apply for British citizenship on the basis of being married. To apply for British citizenship you have to have been resident in the UK for a number of years. In order to do this, you would first have to apply for a spouse visa to live in the UK - but your husband would have to be living in the UK for you to be able to apply, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 17-Jan-17 @ 2:53 PM
I married to British man 6 years ago. He worksabroad & we both live abroad.I have 5 years multiple visit visa. so we go every year for summer holidays (2 months) I am not living in UK. How can i apply for my UK citizenship? As i am not living in UK. I really want to becameBritish Citizen.
Benny - 17-Jan-17 @ 8:11 AM
kevin - Your Question:
Hello.im trying to find out informations about bringing my two dependants in ghana to uk. I included them in my visa application some years ago but now I want to bring them uk but they are aged 18 and over so want to know if need to send an evidence to prove that I really included them and want to know if apply as dependent though they are 18 and over.though I included in my visa application but just wanna clarify some few things.Thank you for your time

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which will explain all.
AboutImmigration - 26-Sep-16 @ 2:54 PM
hello .im trying to find out informations aboutbringing my two dependantsin ghana to uk . I includedthem in my visa application some years ago but now i want tobring themuk but theyare aged 18 and over so want to know ifneed to send an evidence to prove that i really included them and want to knowif apply as dependent thoughthey are18 and over..though i included in my visa application but just wanna clarify some few things .. Thank you for your time
kevin - 26-Sep-16 @ 12:23 AM
I am from Zambia and I have a daughter whose zambian passport which has an INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN stamp has expired. She would like to apply for Naturalization, is she supposed to renew the zambian passport before applying?
LEAH - 31-Mar-16 @ 6:49 PM
Can you be able to help me please I have been living in uk for the last 23 years had 3 daughters born in uk I have indefiniteleave visa since year 2000 I wanted to get British passport do I need to take the test and apply for British citizenship or can I just apply for British passport whitout all the test many thanks
Pat - 3-Mar-16 @ 12:19 PM
Hi there I went through your website and believed that you can help me in my issue. I have a tier2 dependent visa till december 2016 and I left UK on 3rd Sep 2014 after bitter relationship with my wife who is teaching in a school there. We have a daughter aged 11 studying in London. I have filed for a divorce in Indian courts in 2014 but since then my wife has continuously denying me talks with my daughter and also changed her address. After I left the UK she made false allegation against me to Police that I have threatened her and my daughter and left for India. For this, I spoke to police and told them as I have filed for divorce she has been making all these false complains. Now my question is I want to visit London to check if my daughter is safe and I feel that what if my wife has complained to UKBA for cancellation of my visa? I also want to file for divorce in London also. if I file for divorce and then join my work in india and wants to go back to UK so will that be considered? Please help Thanks
Sharma - 24-Dec-15 @ 8:12 AM
I'm a UK citizen, 65+, what right's - if any - does my Mexican wife have in the UK. We've been married for almost three years. In fact we got married in the UK. Regards
celticrover - 20-Dec-15 @ 6:24 PM
Kita - Your Question:
Hi, looking for advice, I was born in South Africa and married a South African and we now have two children. I am a British citizen according to my british passport, we have come to the UK, me on my BP and them on a 6 month family visit visa on their sa passport now that we are here we have decided it would be best for us to stay as the quality of life is much better and my mother is sickly and nobody to look after her or my minor brother, I understand there are the 18600 a year earning law but surely we can find another option as we have nothing to go back to in SA, any advice would be greatly appreciated

Our Response:
I'm afraid there is no 'other' criteria for your family to stay, apart from the requirements laid out in the; 'gov.uk - 'apply to remain in the UK with family' link here . Also, to be taken into account will be your children which elevates the requirements to £22,400 per year for you and one child and £2,400 per year for each additional child.
AboutImmigration - 1-Oct-15 @ 12:57 PM
Hi, looking for advice, I was born in South Africa and married a South African and we now have two children. I am a British citizen according to my british passport, we have come to the UK, me on my BP and them on a 6 month family visit visa on their sa passport now that we are here we have decided it would be best for us to stay as the quality of life is much better and my mother is sickly and nobody to look after her or my minor brother, i understand there are the 18600 a year earning law but surely we can find another option as we have nothing to go back to in SA, any advice would be greatly appreciated
Kita - 30-Sep-15 @ 2:48 PM
I've been married to my Jamaican husband for 20 months now. We got married in jamaica and he's been living and working in the uk for the past 15 months. His current visa expires after 3 years in 2017 (spousal visa). what would be the next process do we have to wait till the visa expires. we have just had a baby, And what would be the next procedure. Im totally confused.
hotcathy - 14-Sep-15 @ 9:08 PM
Hi i am from Thailand I have a British citizen passport my passport have run out since March 2012.I was living with my mum at that time didn't know I have to change address.would I have a problem with renew it.What documents do i need to give it to them.is it just my old passport that run out of date.
P - 13-Jul-15 @ 6:15 PM
@tariq - I am sorry to hear this. However, because it is such a complicated situation she would have to take some independent legal advice regards her citizenship via the link here. With regards to her in-laws keeping her documents, she may have to seek advice from the police in Pakistan to have them returned. I hope this helps.
AboutImmigration - 20-May-15 @ 10:17 AM
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