What do I say about two nationalities on a UK student visa application?
July 22, 2011 10:02 AM   Subscribe

UK Student Visa (Tier 4) application: I currently hold dual citizenship (UK and US). However, I'm starting an application for a student visa for my upcoming MA program just in case I don't receive my UK passport before I leave (there's a huge delay right now).

On the application, I'm asked if I have any other nationalities besides US. Without a passport, do I say I'm a UK national as well? Am I, even, without ever having residency? All I have is a certificate. I want to err on the side of full disclosure-- if necessary and accurate.

Bonus question: Say I check my passport status and it looks like I won't receive it before I leave (mid-September). I get my student visa and have my passport sent to me when it arrives. How simple is it to go about changing my status from student to resident once I'm in the UK?

Thanks for any and all information!
posted by swingbraid to Law & Government (11 answers total)
If you can apply for a passport, then you're a national.
The real question is whether this is the right way to go about doing this. I've never heard of applying for a student visa to get around a delay in issuing a passport. Have you spoken to the British consulate about this?
posted by atrazine at 10:05 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are a UK citizen, you should not be applying for a visa at all. I don't know if they will count it as fraud - I mean, you'd be fraudulently obtaining a lesser status than you are entitled to - but it is always a bad idea to misrepresent yourself to Home Office-types, and applying for a visa when you are a UK citizen would be a misrepresentation.

Call the Home Office and see if you can get a expedited passport, or whether you can show proof of citizenship at the border with your US passport as proof of ID. (My dual citizen SO travelled on his UK passport and Canadian naturalized citizenship card in and out of Canada for years). I'm a naturalized UK resident, so I don't know what non-naturalized proof of citizenship there is, but obviously the Home Office would.
posted by jb at 10:10 AM on July 22, 2011

I don't think you should do this unless you have been specifically advised by an immigration lawyer experienced in situations just like yours. Actually, make that several lawyers because sometimes they get it wrong and I can't believe this is right.

IANAL, but everything I know about immigration law (dual US/UK national here too) says that you cannot apply for a Visa if you are a national. Just in my personal opinion I think you are better off fighting to get your passport application handled faster, that is a thing that there is some wiggle room around, and speeding it up happens often.

Please don't do this without legal and probably consular advice too, it sounds like a paperwork trainwreck waiting to happen at the very least.
posted by crabintheocean at 10:10 AM on July 22, 2011

You have a US passport and a certificate with proof of UK citizenship? Then it sounds to me like you're good to go -- a passport isn't necessary for proving citizenship anywhere. Bring the certificate with you when you go (with appropriate copies stored in safe places) and you should be fine. Speak with the UK consulate to be sure, but applying for a student visa shouldn't be necessary -- or a good idea at all.
posted by brainmouse at 10:12 AM on July 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I'm applying for a student visa on the advice of the British Consulate here in Chicago. I would definitely prefer not to do this. When I received my citizenship, they told us about the 10-12 week wait-times for new passports. I may get my passport just before I leave, IF there are no problems with my application. This is my first passport so they can not expedite it. On the further advice of the Consulate I included a cover letter with my application and proof that I will be starting classes in late September. They invited me to call them directly if I have not received my passport a week before I leave, but did not promise to expedite it.

According to the Consulate I CANNOT enter the UK with only a certificate of citizenship, and I am definitely attending school, so I would not feel comfortable entering as a tourist.
posted by swingbraid at 10:31 AM on July 22, 2011

I am also a dual EU/US national, and when I accidentally entered the country on my US passport (having left my EU one behind) I just came in as a tourist, despite the fact that I was studying. I tried to contact the Home Office about verifying my status so that they wouldn't be on the lookout for a US citizen overstaying his visa, but nothing ever came of it.

If I were you I'd come in as a US citizen on a tourist visa and then chance it.
posted by col_pogo at 10:41 AM on July 22, 2011

IANAL, but on personal experience do be quite careful when you are answering these sorts of questions. When I was in my UK passport interview, there was a verging-on trick question about whether I was registered to vote, having to do with proof of citizenship and a lot of other weird technical issues. Remember, even if you do not have a passport yet, you are indeed a UK citizen! Additionally, try and remember to bring that proof of study letter with you in your carry-on luggage when you get here. The border agents like to see them (although if you forget, and still have your student visa, it's okay).
posted by Concordia at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2011

If the consulate is saying to do so, then obviously they know better than strangers like me on the internet. If you wish to double check, you could always contact the Home Office itself. It does seem very strange, but if you are a recently naturalized citizen, maybe it's normal. I'm not a UK citizen myself, only a permanent resident.
posted by jb at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2011

Anecdotal, but possibly helpful: When my dual-citizen wife (US born, UK through marriage to me) has entered the UK on the two occasions since becoming a citizen (we live in the US now), she has done so without a UK passport.

On neither occasion has she been delayed or detained by showing her US passport with UK certificate proving citizenship (she comes with me through the "EU Residents" line).

YMMV, obviously.
posted by Ridge at 12:25 PM on July 22, 2011

Response by poster: Ridge: Thanks--your wife's situation seems to be closest to what I might expect if I don't get a passport. The only possible difference is that I am intending to stay for a year or longer. At the consular office, they seemed pretty adamant that I cannot use the certificate as a travel document in this case, which is why I'm bothering with a student visa.

Col_pogo: I thought about doing that, but I don't want to be dishonest about my reason for entering the country, in case it comes back to bite me. In truth, I might be over-thinking this but I'm trying to be above board.

On the above advice, I'm going to scrap the student visa application for now and call the Home Office to see what they suggest. Thanks again, everyone!
posted by swingbraid at 1:57 PM on July 22, 2011

OK, correction, courtesy of Mrs Ridge (which goes to show how much attention I'm paying at Border Control after a 10 hour flight from Texas):
The reason I've entered the UK without a British passport and not been detained is because I have Indefinite Leave to Remain (permanent residency) stamped in my US passport. Border control in the UK have never asked further questions because once they see that, they stamp me through as a US citizen with ILR.
Suggestion: Contact the Consulate to see if they can rush the passport through. Alternatively, they may be able to issue you emergency travel documents, which is what they would do for a UK citizen abroad who has lost their passport.
posted by Ridge at 8:35 PM on July 22, 2011

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