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British Citizenship for Overseas Adopted Children

In this guide we answer the top 10 most frequently asked questions about applications for British Citizenship for children adopted overseas.  If you are a British citizen and you are considering making an application for British Citizenship for a child adopted overseas then read on to find out more about the requirements for British Citizenship for a child adopted abroad, how to apply for British Citizenship for an overseas adopted child and the documents required in support of an application for British Citizenship for a child adopted overseas.

Will an adopted child automatically be a British citizen if adopted by British parents?

Children adopted overseas by British citizens may have an automatic claim to British citizenship under s1(5) British Nationality Act 1981 depending on whether the child’s adoption is considered a Hague Convention adoption. 

Additional requirements which need to be met for a child adopted overseas under a Convention adoption include that on the date of the adoption:

  • at least one of the adoptive parents was a British citizen at the time the adoption order was made; and
  • the adopting parent(s) was habitually resident in the UK at the time of the final adoption order.

In this circumstance, it will not be necessary to make an application for the adopted child to obtain British citizenship and the child may proceed to make an application for a first British passport. Adoption in any other circumstances will not result in the adopted child acquiring British citizenship automatically. 

What is a “convention adoption”?

A convention adoption, as defined in s50 British Nationality Act 1981, is an adoption effected under the law of a country or territory in which the Convention is in force, and certified in pursuance of Article 23(1) Convention. The child’s final adoption order will need to be certified as having been made in accordance with the terms of the Hague Convention on inter-country adoption. The factors to consider when assessing whether an overseas adoption is a convention adoption include whether:

  • the adoption took place in a country or territory where the Hague Convention is in force;
  • the Hague Convention was in force in that country or territory at the time the adoption took place;
  • the adoption took place in accordance to the law of that country or territory; and
  • the adoption was certified under Article 23(1) of the Convention.

What options are available if the adoption is not recognised as a Hague Convention adoption?

An adopted child may be eligible to register as a British citizen under s3(1) British Nationality Act 1981. It will be imperative to check the following to determine whether or not the adoptions took place in a country and territory recognised by the UK: 

You may wish to seek expert advice to assess whether an overseas adoption is recognised by the UK. 

What are the requirements to register an adopted child as a British citizen?

The requirements for an application to register an adopted child as a British citizen are as follows:

  • the adoption is not informal or temporary
  • under the law of the country where the adoption took place the child is the child of the adoptive parents alone and the legal relationship with the birth family has been completely terminated
  • at least one of the adoptive parents is a British citizen otherwise than by descent
  • the current parent(s) have consented
  • there is no reason to refuse on character grounds
  • all relevant adoption laws have been adhered to, this includes the laws of the country in which the adoption has taken place, the country of origin of the child and the country in which the adoptive parents are habitually resident
  • the adoption is not one of convenience arranged to facilitate the child’s admission to the UK

How do I make an application to register a child adopted overseas as a British citizen?

Applications to register a child adopted overseas as a British citizen can be made using Form MN1 online or using a paper application form. An application fee of £1,012 is required. 

Adopted children will not be required to attend a citizenship ceremony prior to their registration as British citizens. However, if the adopted child turns 18 whilst their application is pending/processed, they will be required to attend a ceremony and an extra fee of £80 will be payable.

What documents are required for a British Citizenship application for a child adopted overseas?

The Home Office policy guide, “Registration as British citizen: children”, provides a list of supporting documents required for a British citizenship application for a child adopted overseas which includes the following: 

  • the child’s birth certificate, or where the child has been abandoned, a certificate of abandonment from the authorities previously responsible for the child
  • evidence of the relevant adoptive parent’s claim to British citizenship otherwise than by descent
  • the consent of the adoptive parents to the registration
  • the adoption order
  • a contemporary report from the overseas equivalent of the social services department which details:
    • The child’s parentage and history
    • The degree of contact with the original parents
    • The reason for adoption
    • The date, reason and arrangements for the child’s entry into an institution or foster placement
    • when, how and why the child came to be offered to the adoptive parents
  • evidence of the parents’ country of usual residence
  • confirmation that the parent(s) has been assessed and approved as eligible to become an adoptive parent(s) (where the parent(s) is usually resident in the UK)
  • confirmation that all adopted laws have been complied with from the equivalent social services in the country of residence (where the parent(s) is not usually resident in the UK)

How long will it take the Home Office to decide a British Citizenship application for a child adopted overseas?

Applications for British citizenship typically take between 3-4 months to be processed. Depending on the current caseload, applications can take up to 6 months. 

What happens to the adopted child’s present citizenship if they are granted British citizenship?

Before making an application for the registration of an adopted child as a British citizen, it is important to check the nationality laws of the child’s current citizenship. In some countries, a person will automatically lose their nationality if they become a citizen of another country. If the country of which the adopted child is currently a citizen continues to recognise them as one of its citizens they may continue to be subject to its duties.

What are the other options available if an adopted child is not automatically eligible and can not be registered as a British citizen?

An adopted child may be eligible to make an application for indefinite leave to enter the UK under the Immigration Rules if they do not meet the requirements for British citizenship automatically or through registration.  You may wish to seek expert advice or assistance from our Barristers to make an application for indefinite leave to enter the UK. 

What happens if an application for British Citizenship for a child adopted overseas is refused?

If an application for British citizenship is refused, the reasons for refusal should be set out in the notice of decision. There is no statutory right of appeal against the refusal of a British citizenship application, the only judicial remedy is that of judicial review. 

If your challenge is unsuccessful or you decide not to challenge the decision to refuse, you may wish to seek advice as to consider whether a fresh application is likely to be successful. 

Contact Our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance with British citizenship applications for adopted children overseas, contact our Immigration Barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.




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