UK MPs scrutinise legislation on BOTC British citizenship
Legislation which will enable hundreds of people born to a parent from a British Overseas Territory to obtain British citizenship is being scrutinised by MPs in the UK Parliament.
The Nationality and Borders Bill, tabled in July in the House of Commons, is now at the committee stage with a report expected by November 4.
The legislation, announced by Priti Patel, the British Home Secretary, in a policy statement on immigration to the UK Parliament in March, affects people born outside of Britain and its territories to parents who were British Overseas Territories Citizens.
Specifically, it contains clauses enabling those born before January 1, 1983, to mothers and those born before July 1, 2006 to unmarried fathers to acquire British Overseas Territory and British citizenship – where presently they are unable to do so.
A briefing paper on the bill states that it will remove “various historical anomalies and areas of unfairness in British nationality law” including the historical inability of mothers and unmarried fathers to transmit citizenship.
Some of those who register as British Overseas Territory citizens under the new legislation will be “BOTC by descent”, which usually means they cannot pass on their nationality to children born outside of an overseas territory.
Shadow Home Office Minister Bambos Charalambous said during parliamentary debate on Tuesday that the Opposition generally supported the proposals regarding British Overseas Territories citizenship which, he said, “seek to close important loopholes”.
He praised the British Overseas Territories Citizenship Campaign for campaigning “tirelessly over many years for the nationality and citizenship equality rights of the children of British Overseas Territories citizens who have suffered under UK law owing to loopholes …”
The BOTC Campaign said in a statement in July that the UK Government had finally listened, after a seven year campaign, and had acted to bring forward a law to “address and remedy the anomalies in British nationality law that has placed us, the children (now adults) of British Overseas Territories parents, born abroad, some out of wedlock, at a clear disadvantage.
“Once the legislation is finalised, hopefully by the year end of 2021, it will place us on equal footing with UK mainland British children (now adults) and allow us to retrospectively apply for British and BOT nationality registration.
“This will allow us to officially be recognised for nationality purposes, thereby allowing us to obtain British and British Overseas Territories nationality, citizenship and passports.
“We have finally been allowed to ‘come home’ and feel like we officially belong. The whole purpose of our campaign is about uniting families.”
It is not known how many people connected to Bermuda are likely to apply to register as a BOTC.
But Dave Varney, the BOTC Campaign coordinator, previously told the Gazette that Ms Patel had said the change would benefit hundreds rather than thousands of people across all the UK Overseas Territories.
David Burt, the Premier, said in April the introduction of the bill would be “an important step in addressing longstanding inequity”.
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