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Immigration Corner | Will I lose citizenship?

Jamaica Gleaner / Dear Mr Bassie,

I am a British citizen, but my fiancÈ is not. If I marry him, will I be able to keep my own British citizenship if I choose to apply for citizenship of another country?

– S.E.

Dear S.E.,

Dual citizenship, which is also known as dual nationality, is allowed in the United Kingdom. This means that persons can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries.

It should be noted that persons with British citizenship do not need to apply for dual citizenship, as they can apply for foreign citizenship and keep their British citizenship.

However, persons should be aware that many countries do not accept dual citizenship and it is advisable that persons check with the country’s consulate or embassy in the United Kingdom to find out about that country’s laws on dual nationality.

In addition, a person is not permitted to have dual citizenship if he/she is a British subject or a British protected person, unless he/she is a British subject from the Republic of Ireland.

Please be aware that until 1949, nearly everyone with a close connection to the United Kingdom was called a ‘British subject’. All citizens of Commonwealth countries were British subjects until January 1983. However, since 1983, very few people have qualified as British subjects.

WORTH NOTING Just for completeness with respect to applying for British citizenship, it is worth noting that there has been no change to the rights and status of European Union nationals in the United Kingdom, and United Kingdom nationals in the European Union, as a result of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum (Brexit).

In order to obtain British citizenship in the United Kingdom, persons should apply for citizenship in the normal way, and the

most common way is through naturalisation.

Persons should also be aware that as a dual national, they cannot get diplomatic help from the British government when they are in the other country where they hold citizenship.

In addition, a person does not automatically become a British citizen when he/she marries a person from the United Kingdom. In such a case, the person will need to apply as the spouse of a British citizen.

In some countries, a married person is automatically counted as having their partner’s nationality. Children may also automatically have a parent’s nationality even if they were born abroad.

n John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com .

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