How to claim British citizenship through a UK-born grandparent

How to claim British citizenship through a UK-born grandparent

Many South Africans have family ties to the UK thanks to the shared history between the two countries. Most South African citizens with a UK-born grandparent qualify for an Ancestry visa, but we’re here to tell you that you could be eligible for more than just a visa; you may have an immediate claim to full British citizenship.

How to claim British citizenship through a UK-born grandparent

Those born with a UK-born grandparent may be able to claim British citizenship in certain circumstances. This is called claiming citizenship by double descent. It can get complicated, as there are so many factors at play, so it’s always best to consult an experienced nationality specialist.

Finding out if you’re a bit of a Brit

In our 20 years of helping South Africans claim British citizenship, we’ve seen some truly bizarre claims. At one of our nationality seminars earlier this year, a gentleman was able to claim citizenship through his mother’s ex-husband’s British-born father.

So, if what follows below doesn’t precisely describe your situation, do not lose hope. You may still have a claim, even if you don’t have the most obvious family ties to the UK.

If you were born after 1 January 1983

Here are some of the most obvious situations:

  • Your UK-born grandfather was in the Crown service at the time of your parent’s birth
  • Your parent had a UK-born mother (and this parent did not have a UK-born father) and was registered as a British citizen between 2 February 1979 and 31 December 1982
  • A parent was born in a former British colony

If you were born before 1 January 1983

This area of British citizenship law is even more complex, so you’ll need to get your case assessed individually. These are the most common situations our clients find themselves in:

  • A parent was in Crown service at the time of your birth
  • You, or a parent, were born in a former British territory
  • Your parents married before 1949 and your paternal grandfather was born in the UK

If you were born before January 1949

Claims in such circumstances are less common, but can arise in the following circumstances:

  • Your mother was married to a British man before 1 January 1949 (regardless of whether or not he was your father)
  • You, or one of your parents, were born in a former British colony

Children under 18

Several rights to British nationality fall away when a child turns 18 and can be lost forever. It is essential, therefore, to look into your child’s rights before they turn 18. The most common routes to nationality are where:

  • A British parent spent up to two and half years in the UK before the child was born
  • The family moves over to the UK and spends at least two and half years in the UK
  • The child is adopted

Don’t lose your South African citizenship in the process

While South Africa does allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship, any South African over the age of 18 must get written permission from the Minister of Home Affairs before applying for a second citizenship. If this is not done, you run the risk of losing your South African citizenship.

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