Citizenship question
June 24, 2016 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me understand the citizenship application process for a US citizen with a parent who was a UK citizen at the time of my birth? (With some extra questions about Scotland and the EU...)

I was born in the US in 1974. My mother was also born here, my father was born in Scotland, and was still a citizen of the UK (with a US green card) when I was born. For reasons that are unclear to me, I have, along with my US birth certificate, a UK birth certificate that my dad somehow got for me, based on his own citizenship I suppose.

As my own country descends into... celebrifacism? I've been counting on a fantasy that I can utilize this UK birth certificate to get myself (and wife and daughter, all born here) into the EU if things get "really bad". However, with Brexit, and a likely(?) Scottish secession to follow, how do I navigate this situation?

From what I understand, I think I'd rather have Scotland as my backup plan than England. But if I apply for citizenship now, will I have the option of choosing some kind of Scottish check box at secession time, given my dad's ancestry? (And is there some scenario where Scotland would secede and then re-join the EU?!)

Final question, will my daughter have to separately apply for citizenship, and will she even be eligible?

I know I know, lefty Americans are always claiming we're going to flee the country, and maybe Europe is headed to a period of extreme instability too, but I actually want to at minimum pursue this citizenship angle, even if we don't move, so that if the time comes, my family will have that option.
posted by latkes to Law & Government (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You are eligible for a passport based on your father. Your daughter is not automatically given access to one, but would become eligible should you move to the UK together and stay for a minimum of 2 years. If you want Scotland over England, those 2 years should be in Scotland.
posted by netsirk at 7:58 AM on June 24, 2016

Your father's thoughtful provisioning of that UK BC will make the process simpler than it would have been otherwise.

You already hold UK (or British?) nationality, and as I understand it, you may be asking about how to register as a citizen, rather than how to apply for citizenship. Once you've done that, here's a place to start your application for a UK passport.
posted by mwhybark at 10:11 AM on June 24, 2016

Best answer: And! That site has a helpful questionnaire to help determine if you already are a British citizen. Presumably if the answer for you is "yes," you can just go right to the passport process.
posted by mwhybark at 10:16 AM on June 24, 2016

Best answer: British nationality laws, and some of the associated terminology, have changed several times over the last four decades, so looking at the pages can get confusing. But, in simple terms, you don’t need to apply for British citizenship because you were a citizen at birth (the fact that your father registered your birth with the British Embassy and they issued a certificate demonstrates that, though the registration wasn’t strictly necessary for the status of your citizenship). So, as netsirk says, your next step would be to apply for a British passport, a process which starts online with you subsequently sending your relevant documents to the processing site in England (the fee is currently $211 plus $33 courier fee, if I’m reading things correctly).

Citizenship for children of British nationals only persists for one generation if they are born abroad— so you were a citizen, but your children are not, though if they move to the UK with you they can be naturalized. There is a whole set of rules about non-British spouses settling in the UK involving income requirements which you will need to research. Until Brexit happens, you have right of abode anywhere in the EU, though the rules for your family would depend on which country you went to (Note that income requirements for non-British spouses settled in the EU seeking to settle in the UK may be different from those coming directly from outside the EU).

As for the Scottish question, frankly no one knows — the Brexit vote was yesterday and how long that takes to play out is anyone’s guess (probably no less than two years). And when and if the UK splinters and what the consequences are as a result of the negotiated terms of Brexit and any votes to secede is pure speculation at this point, though the coming months may bring some hints. How a putative Scottish state would confer nationality and right of abode via some mix of birth/decent/residence is also necessarily unclear. If you want precedent you should probably investigate what happened in 1922 when Ireland was partitioned and the Republic of Ireland was created, but that was pushing 100 years ago at this point, so how relevant it would be I don’t know.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:18 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. Your advice helped me finally start the process of applying for my British passport (and not a fucking moment too soon).

However, I seem to have misunderstood what documents I needed to include, and I'm hoping perhaps one of you have some experience with British bureaucracy and can offer guidance. This is the letter they just sent:

Please send the following documents: Your original birth certificate from the country you were
born. Consular/photocopies are not acceptable. We also require your fathers full birth certificate
showing both his parents details along with your parents marriage certificate. Again photocopies
are not acceptable.

I've just ordered a new birth certificate from Scotland for my dad and a marriage certificate from England - my parents were married in London. My question is, I was born in the USA, but issued a British birth certificate (along with my US certificate). I have the original of the UK certificate already, but not an original of my US certificate. Do you think I should order that to send? Or just send the UK certificate? Or order and then send both?

posted by latkes at 9:02 AM on December 1, 2016

Order another UK OBC if you can, and send either of the two UK OBCs. Don't bother sending the US one, I think. At any rate, be sure you have another official copy in hand before you send. I have not dealt with the UK bureaucracy, mind. But if you have and can obtain duplicate OBCs from the UK, why confuse them with the US paper?

Although, you know, you should obtain a US OBC too - it is a requirement for a US passport, and you are entitled to both US and UK citizenship.
posted by mwhybark at 10:28 PM on December 1, 2016

Response by poster: Ok thanks! The passport authority actually answered my email right away, (would not happen in U.S.) and said they don't accept consular birth certificates anymore, but I should send the original consular UK certificate anyway PLUS my original US certificate! Ok then!
posted by latkes at 6:31 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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