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11 March 2024

A guide to deprivation of British citizenship and how it works

Over the last few years, deprivation of British citizenship has been covered a lot in the media due to recent events, particularly due to individuals in terrorist organisations. Losing British citizenship has many large consequences. Learn about it in our guide.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Woman waiting in airport after going through deprivation of British citizenship.

Deprivation of British citizenship is not something that happens often, nor is it carried out lightly. 

Individuals who managed to obtain British citizenship through fraud, and people who are considered to be some of the most dangerous criminals and terrorists are generally the only ones who will have their British citizenship removed. 

The Home Secretary is the one with the power to deprive someone of their British citizenship. The power has existed since the 1914 British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, though the current powers are enshrined in the British Nationality Act 1981.

Between 2010 and 2022, 220 people were deprived of their British citizenship. The highest  number of deprivations was 104 people in 2017, and the lowest being in 2022, with only three people losing their citizenship.

Read on to find out more about deprivation of citizenship and for a deeper look into the reasons behind it.

Deprivation of British citizenship on the grounds of it being conducive to the public good

There are two reasons that the Government uses to validate depriving individuals of their citizenship. 

The first reason is that stripping someone of their citizenship if considered to be conducive to the public good, as the individual is seen as a threat to the British public. It is very rare for this to be used 

The following harmful activities can result in citizenship being removed on these grounds:

  • Acts of terrorism
  • Glorification of terrorism
  • Serious organised crime
  • War crimes
  • Acts related to national security such as espionage 

Between 2010 and 2018, an average of 19 people a year were stripped of their citizenship.

On the grounds of gaining British citizenship through fraud

The second reason for the deprivation of British citizenship is that citizenship was gained via fraud. In this case, the individuals were never entitled to British citizenship under any rules, and lied to get citizenship.

From 2010 to 2018, 17 people a year had their British citizenship removed due to fraud. 

How cases are considered

The Home Secretary considers each case personally and ensures that they comply with the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The UN has aimed to reduce statelessness, with them stating that every person has the right to a nationality. 

As a result, it is a very big decision to deprive someone of their British citizenship. 

Generally, people are more likely to experience deprivation of British citizenship if they will still hold citizenship in another country, so they will still have somewhere they can go to.

What are the consequences of deprivation of British citizenship?

Anyone who has been deprived of their citizenship will lose many benefits of being a British citizen, and may have to relocate elsewhere.

If they are in Britain when they are stripped of their citizenship, they may be deported to another country they hold citizenship in. 

Some people may even end up being relocated to countries that they are unfamiliar with.

Can deprivation of British citizenship be appealed?

As part of the Government’s safeguards, there are appeal processes in place that let anyone who has been stripped of their citizenship challenge the decision.

To learn what rights of appeal someone deprived of their citizenship has, they should contact  the Home Office directly. 

However, making an appeal does not guarantee that their citizenship will be restored. 

The most recent high profile example of deprivation of British citizenship is the case of Shamima Begum. She was stripped of her citizenship in 2019, but in 2023 she made an application with her lawyers to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission to challenge the decision.

In February 2024, the Court of Appeal upheld the original decision, and she did not have her citizenship restored.

How we can help

The removal, restoration and deprivation of British citizenship are topics that we do not have any dealings with at all.

However, we can help people in applying for visas or naturalisation as a British citizen.

Arrange a free 10-minute consultation with a member of our expert law team today to see if we can help you. After this, you can have a longer, paid consultation that lasts either 30 minutes, or an hour. 

Get in touch with us today if you would like to learn more about our services.

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