The following MN1 guide covers the key considerations for parents when completing your child’s British citizenship application form.
If you are a parent looking to register a child under the age of 18 as a British citizen, you will need to complete the Home Office’s form MN1.
Becoming a British citizen is a significant life event. As well as allowing your child to apply for a British passport, British citizenship also means your child can live, work and study in the UK on a permanent basis, entirely free from immigration controls. It is also incredibly important for a child’s sense of identity and belonging in the UK.
With so much at stake – a refused citizenship application will mean a loss of the fee – it will be important to ensure you complete the form fully and correctly to avoid issues or delays with the application.
How do I apply to register my child for British citizenship
For children under the age of 18, their parents will need to complete an application on their behalf, using Form MN1.
Form MN1 is for children under 18 who qualify to be registered as a British citizen either through birth or adoption. It is also for children whose parents gave up British citizenship and then got it back, as well as for some other cases.
An application to register a child as a British citizen can be made online or by post using the hard copy Form MN1. The application fee is £1,012, as at July 2019.
Note that once an individual reaches the age of 18 they apply for British citizenship as an adult, either by registration if they have an entitlement, or by naturalisation using Form AN rather than form MN1.
You will need to submit extensive documents in support of the application, as well as evidence of your child’s identity, for example, their passport and birth certificate. The specific nature and extent of the documentation varies depending on the facts of the case and the basis upon which registration is sought. Taking advice will ensure you are submitting a comprehensive application.
As part of your application, your child will be required to enrol their biometric details for the purpose of identity verification. Children under the age of 6 do not need to provide fingerprints, although these can still be requested, but must have a digital photograph taken of their face. There may be a small additional fee for enrolling your child’s biometric information.
Children under the age of 16 will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at their biometric enrolment appointment. Where to give biometric information depends on how you’re making your citizenship application. You’ll be told where to go after you’ve applied.
MN1 guide: practical tips on completing the form
For an MN1 application to succeed, you will need to show that the child satisfies any requirements that are set out under British nationality law, namely the British Nationality Act 1981 and associated regulations. This legislative framework sets out the legal requirements when applying for British citizenship.
In circumstances where the application is at the discretion of the Home Secretary, you will need to show that it satisfies the agreed criteria set out on the GOV.UK website, or if the child does not satisfy legal requirements and agreed policy, you will need to demonstrate why it would be right for the Home Secretary to grant the child British citizenship in any event.
As such, it is crucial you fully understand the basis upon which you are making the MN1 application and are able to apply the relevant criteria or, alternatively, put forward a detailed argument for ‘exceptional circumstances’ (see below).
Is my child eligible to be registered for British citizenship?
There are a number of routes that will enable you to apply for British citizenship on behalf of your child. Some routes will give the child an automatic right under British nationality law to apply and be registered as a British citizen. These are known as entitlements.
Other routes allow minors to be granted citizenship on the decision of the Home Secretary. This could be where your child meets existing criteria that the Home Secretary has already agreed should allow children to be registered as British.
It can also include exceptional cases where it would be right to allow your child, at the discretion of the Home Secretary, to be registered as a British citizen because of the compelling nature of the child’s circumstances.
Who is automatically entitled to be registered?
There are various circumstances in which a child may be automatically entitled to be registered as a British citizen. These include the following:
- Where the child was born in the UK to parents who are now settled in the UK or have become British citizens, or where the child was born in the UK to parents who have joined the armed forces.
- Where the child was born abroad to parents who are British by descent and have lived in the UK or a British overseas territory, or where the child was born abroad to parents who are British by descent but are now living in the UK or a British overseas territory.
- Where the child was born abroad to parents serving in the UK armed forces.
There are also other routes that allow minors to be granted citizenship on the decision of the Home Secretary, in particular where the child meets existing criteria that the Home Secretary has already agreed should allow children to be registered as British. These include the following:
- Where the child was born abroad to parents who are applying for British citizenship.
- Where the child was adopted abroad by British citizen parents.
- Where the child was born to parents who had renounced but subsequently resumed British citizenship.
A child can also be registered in exceptional cases where it is considered to be in the child’s best interests to be granted British citizenship.
Although it is not possible to cover all circumstances under which the Home Secretary might exercise discretion, in determining any application consideration will be given to the following:
- The child’s connections with the UK
- Where the child’s future is likely to lie
- The parents’ views
- The parents’ nationality and immigration status
- The length of time the child has lived in the UK
- Whether the child is of good character
- Any compelling circumstances
Please note, a parent applying for British citizenship at the same time as their child should consider the possibility that the child may be found to be eligible for registration when their own application will be refused.
Form MN1 invites the parent to confirm that, if this is the case, the child should still be registered as a British citizen.
MN1 guide: good character requirement
In any application to register a child for British citizenship over the age of 10, they must be of ‘good character’. To be of good character the child will need to show respect for the rights and freedoms of the UK, observe its laws and fulfil their rights and duties as a UK resident.
Within the application, you will have to give details of any criminal convictions against your child both within and outside the UK.
If the child has been charged with a criminal offence and is awaiting trial or sentencing, you are advised not to make any application for the child’s registration until the outcome is known.
Full disclosure is mandatory. If you are not honest about the information you provide and the child is registered on the basis of incorrect or fraudulent information they will be liable to have their British citizenship taken away, and you may be prosecuted. It is a criminal offence to make a false declaration knowing that it is untrue.
Is registration for citizenship always necessary?
For those children who have automatically acquired British citizenship, either by descent or otherwise, they do not need to be registered.
There are several ways a child can automatically be a British citizen without needing to register, in particular where they acquire British citizenship by way of descent, ie; where this is passed on to one generation born abroad.
A child can also acquire citizenship otherwise than by descent, for example, where they are born in the UK to a parent who is either a British citizen, settled in the UK at the time the child is born or a member of the UK armed forces.
Do you need guidance with form MN1?
Given that there are various different ways in which a child can be granted British citizenship, it is always best to seek expert legal advice from a specialist in immigration law.
It is also important to understand that before continuing with your application, under the nationality laws of some countries an individual will automatically lose their nationality if they become a citizen of another country.
Further, if the country of which the child is currently a citizen continues to recognise them as one of its citizens, they may continue to be subject to the duties of citizens of that country when they are in its territory. This may include obligations to undergo military service.
As specialist immigration solicitors, we can advise on the options open to your child and support with completing any Home Office application.
For advice with an application for British citizenship, contact us.