I am a 20 year old British Citizen living in Britain, and my 26 year old Peruvian girlfriend is pregnant with my child. Could you tell me how I would go about applying for dual nationality for the child?Do I need to be in Peru to sign any documentation when my child is born? Also what laws are there regarding her entering England, and applying for a residents visa?
(Mr C Bennett, 16 January 2009)
British citizens are allowed to hold dual nationality. However, not all countries allow their citizens to hold the citizenship of another country without renouncing the nationality they were born with. Peruvian citizens may hold dual nationality.
British citizens may either be British by descent or “otherwise than by descent”. Broadly speaking a citizen is British by descent if they were born abroad and acquired citizenship because they had a British parent. If you were born in the UK and one of your parents was British you are likely to be a British citizen other than by descent.
British citizens other than by descent can generally pass citizenship to any children born outside the UK. For children born prior to 1 July 2006, their British father would not have been able to pass citizenship to them unless he was married to the child’s mother. For children born from 1 July 2006 onwards, the father may pass British citizenship to his child even if he is not married to the mother but proof that he is the child’s father must be provided.
Where a child born abroad acquires citizenship because a parent is British, they will be classified as British by descent. This means that they will not usually be able to pass British citizenship on to any child of their own born outside the UK. However, children born abroad to a British citizen by descent may be eligible to be registered as a British citizen if they satisfy certain criteria.
If your child qualifies as a British citizen, you will have to obtain a British passport for him or her before travelling to the UK. If the child does not qualify as a British citizen you will have to apply for entry clearance to the UK and for Peruvian travel documents before the child will be allowed to enter the UK.
I assume that the question about residence refers to the child’s mother. If you wish to come to the UK to live together as a family, the child’s mother will have to apply for a visa before she travels to the UK. Your girlfriend may be entitled to a resident’s visa if you can satisfy the immigration authorities of the following:
- Either you currently live in the UK or are returning to the UK to live;
- Any previous marriage either of you entered into has broken down;
- You have been living together as man and wife for at least two years;
- You intend to live together permanently;
- You can support yourselves and your baby financially without help from public funds.
However, there is one further requirement that you do not currently satisfy which is that you must BOTH be over the age of 21. The same age restriction applies if you become engaged to, or even marry, your girlfriend before coming to live in the UK.