I was born in 1956 in Southern Rhodesia and live in South Africa since 1987. My mother was born in Southern Rhodesia in 1931. She has always held a British passport and is still living in South Africa. Both her parents were born in the UK in about 1902.

I applied in 2012 for citizenship but was declined for not meeting the requirement. I quote "As your mother was born outside the United Kingdom and Colonies, she would have held CUK C status "by descent" at the time of your birth. She would not therefore have been able to pass that status on to you."

With the change in the laws since 2012 would this reason still be applicable and would an application for citizenship be successful?

  • Are you talking about a specific change that you can quote/link? Because as far as I'm aware, you still would not qualify with the current guidelines, but maybe something has slipped by me that I'm not aware of.
    – ouflak
    Jan 25, 2018 at 16:11
  • 1
    You could go for an Ancestry Visa which, although it only lasts 5 years, can be extended and does offer a path to permanent residence.
    – brhans
    Jan 25, 2018 at 21:41
  • @brhans - Could you add this as an answer? Jan 28, 2018 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


British citizenship by descent only transfers to one generation if the child is born abroad, thus from your grandparents to your mother. Consequently, your mother could not transfer that right to you, as you were advised. While there have been a series recent changes to citizenship and immigration regulations, including descent, it did not lower the bar that would enable you to acquire British nationality via that path.

  • Thank you to all.After more research Giorgio is correct.
    – A.J.Lowe
    Jan 26, 2018 at 6:51

"British citizen by descent" means someone is a British citizen because a parent was a British citizen, so they are descending from a British citizen. That's actually less beneficial than being a "British citizen not by descent".

If you are born in the UK, and your parent is a British citizen, by descent or not by descent, then you are a British citizen not by descent. If you are born outside the UK, and your parent is British citizen not by descent, then you are "only" a British citizen by descent. But if you are born outside the UK, and your parent is a British citizen by descent, then you are not a British citizen.

We can put it in another way: If you start with a British ancestor, then one generation can be born outside the UK and be British, but not two generations. The second generation must be born in the UK. Then again one generation may be born outside the UK, and the next one must be born in the UK.

  • Indeed, one can be a British citizen not by decent even if neither parent is a British citizen of any description.
    – phoog
    Jan 26, 2018 at 1:38

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