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British Overseas Territories citizen

British Overseas Territories citizen

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The status of British Overseas Territories citizen relates to persons holding British nationality
British nationality law
British nationality law is the law of the United Kingdom that concerns citizenship and other categories of British nationality. The law is complex because of the United Kingdom's former status as an imperial power.-History:...

 by virtue of a connection with a British Overseas Territory
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

.

British Nationality Act 1981


The British Nationality Act 1981
British Nationality Act 1981
The British Nationality Act 1981 was an Act of Parliament passed by the British Parliament concerning British nationality. It has been the basis of British nationality law since 1 January 1983.-History:...

 came into force on 1 January 1983, and divided Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) into three categories:
  • British citizens

CUKCs with the right of abode
Right of abode
The right of abode is an individual's freedom from immigration control in a particular country. A person who has the right of abode in a country does not need permission from the government to enter the country and can live and work there without restriction....

 in the United Kingdom and Islands (i.e. the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

 and the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

) by virtue of a close connection therewith, e.g. by birth or descent from a person born in the United Kingdom & Islands
British Islands
British Islands is a term within the law of the United Kingdom which since 1889 has referred collectively to the following four states:*the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ;...

, became British citizens.

  • British Dependent Territories citizens

CUKCs with a close connection with one of the United Kingdom's Dependent Territories
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

 became British Dependent Territories citizens (BDTCs). It was possible for a person to acquire British citizenship and BDTC at the same time. For example, a person born in Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

 before 1983 with a parent born in the United Kingdom would have acquired both nationalities.

  • British Overseas citizens

All other CUKCs became British Overseas citizen
British Overseas citizen
In British nationality law, the status of British Overseas citizen is one of several categories of British national. A British Overseas citizen does not have an automatic right to live in the United Kingdom.-British Nationality Act 1981:...

s.


There are categories of British national other than these three, but these consist of persons who were not CUKCs before 1983.

See also History of British nationality law
History of British nationality law
- Early English and British nationality law :British nationality law has its origins in medieval England. There has always been a distinction in English law between the subjects of the monarch and aliens: the monarch's subjects owed him allegiance, and included those born in his dominions and...


British Overseas Territories Act 2002



On 26 February 2002 British Dependent Territories citizenship (BDTC) was renamed to British Overseas Territories citizenship (BOTC). The two terms have identical meaning.

Belonger status


British Overseas Territories citizenship is a 'citizenship' covering all the Overseas Territories. Individual overseas territories do not have their own legal nationality status. However they retain the right to make their own immigration laws and award Belonger status, and holding BOTC does not in itself give a right to reside in a British Overseas territory. This depends on a territory's immigration laws. Thus, some BOTCs have no right to live in any territory.

Similarly, it is possible to have Belonger status in a territory without necessarily being a BOTC, depending on the law of that territory. Most non-British citizens who acquire this status will normally become naturalised BOTCs, while British citizens have the option to do so if they wish.

Birth in a British Overseas Territory


From 1 January 1983 a person born in an Overseas Territory is a BOTC by birth if one of the person's parents is a BOTC or settled in an Overseas territory.
  • only one parent must meet this requirement, either the father or the mother
  • if only the father meets this requirement, the parents must be married. If the parents marry subsequent to the birth the child may acquire BOTC at that point. Failing that, it is possible for the child to be registered as a BOTC under s17(1) of the 1981 Act which deals with discretionary registration of minors.
  • Settled implies ordinarily resident without a time limit
  • The parent does not have to be a BOTC connected with the same territory as the child's birth, or settled in the same territory. For example, a child born in the Falkland Islands to a parent who is a BOTC from St Helena will automatically be a BOTC by birth. However such a child will not necessarily have Belonger status
    Belonger status
    Belonger status is a legal classification normally associated with British overseas territories. It refers to people who have close ties to a specific territory, normally by birth and/or ancestry...

     in either the Falkland Islands or St Helena unless permitted by the territory immigration laws.
  • a parent who is a British citizen is not sufficient in itself for the child to be a BOTC.

Registration entitlements


A child born in an Overseas Territory may be entitled to registration as a BOTC if:
  • subsequent to the birth, one of the parents becomes a BOTC or settled in any Overseas Territory (not necessarily the same one). Application must be made before age 18.
  • the child lives in the same territory until age 10.

BOTC by descent


A person born outside the Overseas Territories on or after 1 January 1983 will automatically acquire BOTC by descent if either parent is a BOTC otherwise than by descent at the time of the birth.
  • only one parent needs to be a BOTC otherwise than by descent - either the father or the mother.
  • an unmarried father cannot pass on BOTC automatically. Although if the parents marry subsequent to the birth the child normally will become a BOTC at that point if legitimated by the marriage and the father was eligible to pass on BOTC. Otherwise it is possible to apply for the child to be registered as a BOTC.
  • where the parent is a BOTC by descent additional requirements apply. In the most common scenario, normally the parent is expected to have lived in an Overseas Territory for three years and apply for the child to be registered as a British citizen within 12 months of the birth.
  • Children born overseas to parents on Crown Service under the government of an Overseas Territory are normally granted BOTC otherwise than by descent. In other words, their status is the same as it would have been had they been born in their home Territory.
  • In exceptional cases, the Home Secretary or Governor of a Territory may register a child of BOTC by descent as a BOTC under discretionary provisions, for example if the child is stateless.

Requirements for naturalisation as a BOTC


The requirements for naturalisation as a BOTC depend on whether one is married to a BOTC or not.

For those married to a BOTC the applicant must:
  • be permitted to live indefinitely in a particular territory (the relevant territory)
  • have lived legally in that territory for three years
  • meet specified English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

     competence standards, or equivalent in any other language recognised for official purposes in that territory.


For those not married to a BOTC the requirements are
  • five years legal residence in the relevant territory
  • permission to live in that territory indefinitely must have been held for 12 months or more
  • the applicant must intend to continue to live in that territory or work elsewhere for the territory government or a corporation or association established in that territory.
  • similar language standards apply as for those married to BOTC


All applicants for naturalisation must be of "good character". Naturalisation is at the discretion of the Governor the Territory but is normally granted if the requirements are met.

Access to British citizenship


Prior to 21 May 2002 only BOTCs from the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

 and Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 had automatic access to British citizenship.

On 21 May 2002 any BOTC who was not already a British citizen automatically acquired that status, with the exception of those solely connected with the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus administered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom...

.

Those acquiring BOTC after 21 May 2002 may normally become British citizens through one of the following routes:

Section 4A registration


A BOTC is eligible to apply for registration as a British citizen based on his status as a BOTC under s4A of the British Nationality Act 1981 (in force from 21 May 2002) provided:
  • he is not solely connected with the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus
    Akrotiri and Dhekelia
    The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus administered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom...

  • he has not previously renounced British citizenship
  • he is of good character


Registration is discretionary but will not normally be refused unless there is a specific reason.

This option confers British citizenship otherwise than by descent and hence children born subsequently outside the United Kingdom will normally have access to British citizenship.

Residence in the United Kingdom

  • After 5 years residence in the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    , Channel Islands
    Channel Islands
    The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

     or Isle of Man
    Isle of Man
    The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

    , and holding Indefinite Leave to Remain
    Indefinite leave to remain
    Indefinite leave to remain is an immigration status granted to a person who does not hold right of abode in the United Kingdom , but who has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on his or her stay and who is free to take up employment or study, without restriction...

     (ILR) or its equivalent for at least 12 months, a BOTC may apply for registration as a British citizen under section 4 of the British Nationality Act 1981.
  • If married to a British citizen, it is possible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen after 3 years residence in the United Kingdom provided ILR is held on the day of application.


This confer British citizenship otherwise than by descent however since the introduction of section 4A are usually of interest only to BOTCs from the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus administered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom...

.

Section 5 registration


BOTCs by connection with Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 may apply for registration as a British citizen under section 5 of the 1981 Act. Unlike section 4A registration:
  • this is an entitlement and cannot be refused
  • persons who have previously renounced British citizenship are eligible
  • this confers British citizenship by descent


This section is relatively unused since the British Overseas Territories Act 2002
British Overseas Territories Act 2002
The British Overseas Territories Act 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which superseded parts of the British Nationality Act 1981...

 came into force, but remains part of the law.

British citizenship by birth in an Overseas Territory


Persons born in a British Overseas Territory after 21 May 2002 automatically acquire British citizenship (even if they do not acquire BOTC) so long as one parent is a British citizen, settled in the UK, or settled in an Overseas Territory (other than the Sovereign Base Areas
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus administered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom...

).

Between 1 January 1983 and 20 May 2002, this provision only extended to the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

.

BOTC Citizenship ceremonies


With effect from 1 January 2004, all new applicants for BOTC by naturalisation or registration who are aged 18 or over must attend a citizenship ceremony and take an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen and a Pledge to the relevant Territory.
  • This requirement also applies to British citizens seeking to acquire BOTC
  • BOTCs by naturalisation after 21 May 2002 who apply for registration as a British citizen (e.g. under s4A of the 1981 Act) must attend a second citizenship ceremony to give a Pledge to the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    .

Loss of BOTC


BOTC can be lost involuntarily through
  • deprivation under conditions similar to those for British citizens
  • independence of the territory concerned


The provisions for renunciation and resumption of BOTC mirror those for British citizenship. See British nationality law
British nationality law
British nationality law is the law of the United Kingdom that concerns citizenship and other categories of British nationality. The law is complex because of the United Kingdom's former status as an imperial power.-History:...



Acquisition of a foreign citizenship does not cause loss of BOTC, however it may cause loss of Belonger status
Belonger status
Belonger status is a legal classification normally associated with British overseas territories. It refers to people who have close ties to a specific territory, normally by birth and/or ancestry...

 depending on the laws of the territory concerned.

Independence


The only British Dependent Territory to have become independent since 1 January 1983 is St. Christopher and Nevis.
St Christopher (aka St Kitts) and Nevis became an independent Commonwealth
country on 19 September 1983. British citizenship was not lost by anyone who
became a citizen of these countries on that date. British Dependent Territories
citizenship was however lost unless there was a connection with a remaining
dependent territory.

http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/nationalityinstructions/nisec2gensec/independence?view=Binary
  • BDTCs connected solely with St. Christopher and Nevis generally lost BDTC on 19 September 1983 unless they retained ties to another Dependent Territory.
  • Those who did not acquire St. Christopher and Nevis citizenship at independence retained BDTC status which then renamed in 2002 as BOTC.

Hong Kong



BDTCs solely connected with Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 lost that status on 1 July, 1997 upon transfer of sovereignty
Transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong
The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China, referred to as ‘the Return’ or ‘the Reunification’ by the Chinese and ‘the Handover’ by others, took place on 1 July 1997...

 to the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

.
  • The status of British National (Overseas)
    British National (Overseas)
    British National , commonly known as BN, is one of the major classes of British nationality under British nationality law. Holders of this nationality are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens, but not British Citizens...

     was made available before 1997 to allow Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

     BDTCs to opt to retain a form of British nationality.
  • Those who did not have PRC citizenship (or any other nationality) and who had not registered as British Nationals (Overseas) became British Overseas citizens on 1 July, 1997.


To close a possible loophole created in British Overseas Territories Act 2002
British Overseas Territories Act 2002
The British Overseas Territories Act 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which superseded parts of the British Nationality Act 1981...

, which made provision to subtitute the wording of "British Dependent Territories" with "British Overseas Territories
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

" in British Nationality Act 1981 among other new provisions, further clarification was made even though the Act did not even apply to Hong Kong. Article 14 of the subsequent Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, stated specifically that a person may not be registered as a British overseas territories citizen by virtue of a connection with Hong Kong.

Future independence acts


Most British Overseas Territories do not wish to become independent, or have no civilian population. However independence is under discussion in some territories, most notably Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

.
  • It is likely that future legislation for loss of BOTC would mirror the 1983 provisions relating to St Christopher and Nevis
  • The British Government has informally indicated (in the context of discussions on the potential impact of independence in Bermuda
    Bermuda
    Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

    ) that in the event of independence, it would be likely that legislation would be passed to remove both British citizenship and BOTC from persons becoming Bermuda
    Bermuda
    Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

     citizens who did not have specific ties to the UK or another Overseas Territory.

Delegation of registration and naturalisation authority


Although powers to register or naturalise a person as a BOTC are vested in the Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

, these powers are generally delegated to the Governors of Overseas Territories under s43 of the British Nationality Act 1981.

Only in exceptional cases will the Home Office in the United Kingdom register or naturalise a person as a BOTC, and in such instances the Governor of the relevant territory will be informed.

Normally applications for BOTC that are received directly by the Home Office (e.g. from persons in the United Kingdom) are referred to the Governor of the relevant territory for consideration.

Comparison with France


Citizens of French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 overseas dependencies, unlike their British counterparts, are considered French citizens
French nationality law
French nationality law is historically based on the principles of jus soli , according to Ernest Renan's definition, in opposition to the German's definition of nationality, Jus sanguinis , formalized by Fichte.The 1993 Méhaignerie Law required children born in France of foreign parents to request...

 as well, regardless of whether they were born on the mainland
Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

, Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

 or in one of the dependencies. Persons born in one of France's ex-colonies
French colonial empires
The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire...

 when they were administered by France could become French citizens under certain circumstances.

See also

  • British nationality law
    British nationality law
    British nationality law is the law of the United Kingdom that concerns citizenship and other categories of British nationality. The law is complex because of the United Kingdom's former status as an imperial power.-History:...

  • History of British nationality law
    History of British nationality law
    - Early English and British nationality law :British nationality law has its origins in medieval England. There has always been a distinction in English law between the subjects of the monarch and aliens: the monarch's subjects owed him allegiance, and included those born in his dominions and...

  • Belonger status
    Belonger status
    Belonger status is a legal classification normally associated with British overseas territories. It refers to people who have close ties to a specific territory, normally by birth and/or ancestry...

  • French nationality law
    French nationality law
    French nationality law is historically based on the principles of jus soli , according to Ernest Renan's definition, in opposition to the German's definition of nationality, Jus sanguinis , formalized by Fichte.The 1993 Méhaignerie Law required children born in France of foreign parents to request...

  • French overseas dependencies
  • Gibraltarians in the United Kingdom
    Gibraltarians in the United Kingdom
    Gibraltarians in the United Kingdom is a term referring to Gibraltarian-born immigrants to the United Kingdom and their British-born descendents. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory therefore it allows individuals born there the right of abode in the United Kingdom...

  • Montserratians in the United Kingdom

External links