Can my daughter be citizens, too?
November 30, 2008 7:52 PM   Subscribe

I was born in the US to a British Father and an Australian Mother. Shortly ofter I was born, my father registered my birth with the British Consulate in the US and I was issued a consular birth certificate. At the time, no effort was made to get me set up as an Australian citizen.

Flash forward 35 years- With my consular birth certificate, I was able to have a British passport issued. I then applied to the Australian consulate for Australian citizenship "by decent" from my mother. Almost a year and a half after sending my first application in, I received a beautiful certificate of Australian citizenship in the mail. So now I'm a triple citizen- US, UK, and Australian.

Flash forward a few years more to the birth of my daughter in the US this year. Can I get her set up as a triple citizen too? What about my wife? Ive attempted to understand the answer to this question by reading the information available on the various consular websites of the countries in question, but a clear answer eludes me and it is basically impossible to speak to consulate humans on the phone.

Possibly relevant additional details:

- My wife is a US citizen only.
- I have never lived full time in either the UK or Australia, but visit often.

I can be contacted at for questions or further details.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you haven't ever lived permanently in Australia and do not do so now, your daughter probably cannot and your wife almost certainly cannot.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:02 PM on November 30, 2008

I can't speak for the UK rules, but I've done extensive reading on the Australian rules:

Australian citizens-by-descent can only pass on the citizenship if they were in Australia for two years at some point in their lives. The wording is sometimes 'lived' instead of 'present,' but you should qualify by the former wording, which can be found on the Australian Government's website, if you've visited for times totaling two years.

It's a tiny bit ambiguous, it doesn't specify whether the two years need to have been whist already a citizen, or if having gone to Australia beforehand would qualify. It doesn't specify whether the two years need to have been before the birth of the (third generation) child, although it stands to reason they do.

As far as a spouse, Fiasco de Gama's information is exactly what I've seen.
posted by mhz at 8:15 PM on November 30, 2008

British citizens by descent can generally not pass on their citizenship to their children without having lived continuously in the UK for three years.
posted by holgate at 8:21 PM on November 30, 2008

No - your daughter will only be a US citizen. Most countries have the by descent rule which means you can only pass on citizenship one generation.

Your wife - no, unless she lives in the UK or Australia with you for 3+ years, spending no more than a certain amount of time out of the country during the qualifying period.
posted by wingless_angel at 8:48 PM on November 30, 2008

As far as the UK, I think this hinges on whether you're classed as British by descent, or British by other than descent.

If you're British by descent, I think you meet most of the requirements for British citizenship for your new daughter (congrats, by the way!) but not all.

1) You're British by descent (only 1 parent needs to be) (yes)
2) Your parent was British other than by descent. (yes)
3) You need to have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 continuous years, with no more than 270 days of those absent. (no)
4) you apply within 12 months of the birth

Nor can you register her birth with a British consular birth certificate.

However, if you're not a "british citizen by descent", but British "otherwise than by descent" than citizenship passes to your daughter automatically, and she would then be British by descent herself. Prior to 1983, British citizenship passed through the father (though that was retroactively changed), but since you were born overseas and outside the commonwealth, I think you're still classified as a citizen 'by descent' I'm afraid.

I see no way by which you can pass British citizenship to your wife without living in country. You obviously have the right to settle in the UK; your wife and daughter would be able to join you with an entry visa. After two years, if you're still together, your wife would be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in her own right. After 1 more year (3 in total), she'd be able to apply for British citizenship. If you've been married more than 4 years before entry to the UK, then the 2 year minimum is waived, and she could apply for ILR immediately, though it'd still be 3 years before applying for citizenship.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:17 PM on November 30, 2008

Echoing what others have said. I don't think your direct relationship with your wife or daughter will help them gain citizenship in either place. For them to even get permanent residence, they would have to, well, reside in one of the countries, and only after years of being there would they be granted citizenship. (I can't speak of the UK's immigration policies, but I'm an American in Australia, and I know Australia is really tight on immigration. Don't expect to find many loopholes here, unless you're planning to do something illegal. :P)
posted by metalheart at 10:23 PM on November 30, 2008

Note for the UK there is an ancestry visa, which would allow your children (and grandchildren) to live and work in the UK for 4 years (and can be re-applied for) independently of you. As I understand it, they could then apply for ILR and citizenship.
I keep hearing the ancestry visa scheme is under review, but was still in place a few months ago.
posted by bystander at 8:48 PM on December 2, 2008

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