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My wife is Swedish, she's lived in the UK for 10 years and we're pregnant. I assumed her permanent resident status (lived in the UK for more than 5 years) would automatically grant our children British citizenship.

However, I just read the language of the rules:

Children born: on or after 30 April 2006 will be British citizens if at least one parent [who is an EEA national, but not a UK citizen] lived in the UK continuously for five years pursuant to their rights under European law prior to the birth.

My wife is a "permanent resident" and kept a bank account and her "primary address" is in the UK, and now we're back, but she spent in the neighborhood of 22 months (cumulative) traveling the world with me. We went back to the UK 3 different times, but not for more than about 1-2 months each time (longest continuous absence was 13 months).

I guess my questions are, do those 5 years have to be directly prior to the birth of the child? Or anytime prior? And if it's directly prior, will having kept a permanent address in the UK suffice? She spent a full eight years both studying and working before traveling. Will British citizenship be a given for my child or are we going to have something to prove?

Edit:

I'm not sure I want to jump to conclusions just yet, but I just found this: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200511/nationality_and_citizenship/1695/nationality_checking_service_ncs/4.

"Evidence that one parent has exercised treaty rights in the UK for 5 years" doesn't imply in the 5 years directly prior to the birth of the child.

Does anyone have any conflicting info?

  • Your citizenship and residence are also relevant. Are you not British? Are you not settled in the UK? Are you an EU citizen who has lived in the UK for less than 5 years? – phoog Nov 21 '16 at 18:22
  • @mkennedy that seems to be related only tangentially, as it is about someone acquiring British citizenship by naturalization. This question is about acquiring British citizenship by birth. – phoog Nov 21 '16 at 22:28
  • @phoog I was thinking about OP's answer/comment about "exercising treaty rights for 5 years." If the government kicks up a fuss about not being resident in previous year/5 years for naturalization, why wouldn't they when it comes to a baby's citizenship? – mkennedy Nov 22 '16 at 1:18
  • @mkennedy because the criterion for a baby to receive British citizenship upon being born in the UK is that the parents be "settled," not that they be citizens. If an EU citizen has lived in the UK for 5 years, they gain a right of permanent residence, and losing that status requires a lot more absence from the UK than is necessary to disqualify that person from naturalization. Specifically, the right of permanent residence is retained until the person is absent from the UK for a period of two years. – phoog Nov 22 '16 at 2:32
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We now have the concept of "normally resident" in the UK; a term whose full implications are not intuitive, but it means your permanent "home" is the UK and anywhere else you resided, you always called the UK home. If it sounds vague and nebulous, that's because it is, but thankfully, proving "normal residency" isn't that difficult.

I came to know this quite recently, having returned to the UK from four years overseas working, to do an postgraduate degree, however to pay the UK student fee (and not the foreigner fee) at the university, I had to have been "normally resident" in the UK for five years prior to starting my studies.

To resolve this, I produced my employment contracts - both of which included my UK address, and my UK bank statements, which proved I was "normally resident" in the UK, and I was granted UK feepayer status as a result.

tl;dr: if she's permanently resident in the UK, produce documents proving as much when you apply for the child's birth cerfificate/passport.

Also, congratulations.

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About the permanent residence status, which is important to the question: First, your wife had to gain permanent residence status, and then she had to not lose it.

You gain permanent residence by living and working in the UK for five consecutive years. You can be absent for short times in these five years, say for a few months, but definitely not for 22 months. So the question is: Has your wife, at any time, lived in the UK for five years with only short interruptions? Then she has permanent residence.

Once she has permanent residence, she can lose it if she commits some serious crimes, or if she leaves the UK for two consecutive years. So once she has permanent residence, leaving for 22 years is no problem.

You don't have to do anything (fill in forms etc. ) to get permanent residence, but she may have to prove that she has permanent residence.

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    "Has your wife, at any time, lived in the UK for five years with only short interruptions? Then she has permanent residence": It's not quite that simple. Periods in which she was a student or self-sufficient count only if she had "comprehensive sickness insurance" or was the family member of another non-British EEA national who was working in the UK. (Also I think the last clause in the penultimate paragraph should say "22 months," not "22 years." – phoog Sep 22 '17 at 3:32
  • Yes, she would have been the dependent child of another eea national for about eight years, with only intermittent breaks in the U.K. of no more than a few weeks. Her mom was employed most of, if not the whole time. – Christian Sep 23 '17 at 7:03
  • The question was more about the wording of the law that grants birthright citizenship. – Christian Sep 23 '17 at 7:03

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