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Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

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Old Aug 12th 2018, 5:46 pm
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Question Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

I am struggling to get definitive guidance on whether my wife & I can relocate to the UK with our 3 US children without applying for their UK passports before traveling to the UK.

My wife and I are both British Citizens (born in the UK, as were all our parents, so not by decent). We have valid British passports, and have lived in the USA for 7 years. We plan to relocate back to the UK. We have 3 children who were born in the US. They have US passports, but not UK passports. Our understanding is they are British Citizens with the right to apply for British passports. Is this assumption correct?

Do we need to apply for & receive British passports for the children before we travel to the UK, or can the children enter the UK on their US passports, and then apply for their UK passports once inside the UK. If the latter, should the children enter on a 6 month tourist visas, and if so, would this cause any complications with their UK passport applications?

Thanks!
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Old Aug 12th 2018, 6:01 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

You can't get a visa to enter your own country.
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Old Aug 12th 2018, 6:14 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

From the sounds of it your children are British by descent (born overseas of British born parents).

However, as they do not have British passports they do not get automatic entry to the UK based on YOUR passports or birth certificates. At the border you are likely to be questioned as to your children's eligibility to enter to remain in the UK. They are US citizens after all and that does not give them the right to live in the UK.

You ARE likely to obtain entry for them with the instruction to get them UK passports as soon as possible. Having UK passports would assist in getting them into school and health services.

You can't obtain visitor visas for them as they are British citizens.

I would add that if given entry your children would enter as visitors - until such time as you get them their UK passports they would not be eligible for day to day NHS services or schools.

Personally, I would obtain their UK passports before you go so as to not have hassle at the border.

Last edited by SanDiegogirl; Aug 12th 2018 at 6:25 pm.
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Old Aug 12th 2018, 6:19 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
You can't get a visa to enter your own country.
Thanks Rete, so without UK passports, how would the children enter the country? Just by proving their British Citizenship using their birth certificates, my wife's & my British Passports (British citizenship not from decent) and birth certificates?
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Old Aug 12th 2018, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
From the sounds of it your children are British by descent (born overseas of British born parents).

However, as they do not have British passports they do not get automatic entry to the UK based on YOUR passports or birth certificates. At the border you are likely to be questioned as to your children's eligibility to enter to remain in the UK. They are US citizens after all and that does not give them the right to live in the UK.

You ARE likely to obtain entry for them with the instruction to get them UK passports as soon as possible. Having UK passports would assist in getting them into school and health services.

You can't obtain visitor visas for them as they are British citizens.

I would add that if given entry your children would enter as visitors - until such time as you get them their UK passports they would not be eligible for day to day NHS services or schools.

Personally, I would obtain their UK passports before you go so as to not have hassle at the border.
Thanks for the detailed response SanDiegogirl

I understand we will get extra questioning at the border, as we'll need to explain our plans and have all the birth certificates reviewed/checked, but is there a risk of actually being refused entry? I see that applying for the UK passports from overseas is the cleaner option, but we want to get back as soon as possible, and it will take 6+ weeks to get the passports from overseas before we can even book our flights. The other issues, as you mention is access to NHS and Schools once we enter the UK, but applying for the children's passports from the UK should be quick right (3 wks, or 1 wk if you fast track it)?
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Old Aug 12th 2018, 6:50 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by headingbacktoblighty View Post
Thanks for the detailed response SanDiegogirl

I understand we will get extra questioning at the border, as we'll need to explain our plans and have all the birth certificates reviewed/checked, but is there a risk of actually being refused entry? I see that applying for the UK passports from overseas is the cleaner option, but we want to get back as soon as possible, and it will take 6+ weeks to get the passports from overseas before we can even book our flights. The other issues, as you mention is access to NHS and Schools once we enter the UK, but applying for the children's passports from the UK should be quick right (3 wks, or 1 wk if you fast track it)?
There is always a chance of not being given entry - as said, you are likely to obtain entry for your children after some questioning and with the instruction to get their UK passports as soon as possible.
Personally, I would get them their UK passports before you leave.
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Old Aug 12th 2018, 11:39 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
There is always a chance of not being given entry - as said, you are likely to obtain entry for your children after some questioning and with the instruction to get their UK passports as soon as possible.
Personally, I would get them their UK passports before you leave.
Thanks again SanDiegogirl - Is that specifically to avoid the risk of being turned away, or other considerations?
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 2:21 am
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by headingbacktoblighty View Post
Thanks again SanDiegogirl - Is that specifically to avoid the risk of being turned away, or other considerations?

Both......
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 3:45 am
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

The other option we were considering was to travel back to the UK under the pretense that we were just on vacation visiting family with our kids traveling on their US passports on tourist visas (which we've done multiple times before). Once in the UK we would then apply for the children's UK passports.

Is there anything that would alert the UK Border Control we went in fact returning to reside in the UK?
If the children enter passports on tourist visas, are there likely to be any complications with the children's passport applications?
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 4:38 am
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

I could be wrong, but I would have though the most obvious red flag for this would be that you would not have return tickets.
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 4:41 am
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Yes, in this scenario we would purchase return tickets (there is little difference in the price)
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 4:43 am
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by headingbacktoblighty View Post
The other option we were considering was to travel back to the UK under the pretense that we were just on vacation visiting family with our kids traveling on their US passports on tourist visas (which we've done multiple times before). Once in the UK we would then apply for the children's UK passports.

Is there anything that would alert the UK Border Control we went in fact returning to reside in the UK?
If the children enter passports on tourist visas, are there likely to be any complications with the children's passport applications?
A word to the wise - the terms 'border control' and 'pretense' don't go together.
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 10:31 am
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

And the reason you would rather buy return tickets, lie to an immigration officer and potentially delay your children’s access to the NHS and other services rather than just get their British passports is...?
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 2:16 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by BritInParis View Post
And the reason you would rather buy return tickets, lie to an immigration officer and potentially delay your children’s access to the NHS and other services rather than just get their British passports is...?
Hi BritInParis,

Of course, we'd rather not deceive UK immigration. We had planned to travel to the UK with the children on their US passports and declare our intention to reside in the UK on arrival at border control, providing all the required paperwork to prove the children's British Citizen ship (i.e. Original birth certificates showing my wife and I are British citizens, not from descent, and they are our children). However, based on answers above, there seems to be some unquantifiable risk (grey area) as to whether the children would be allowed entry in to the UK if we take that approach.

The reason for the urgency is I have accepted a job offer in London starting on Sep 24th, and I will be unable to make that date if we have to wait 7-8 weeks to apply for British Passports overseas. We also believe it would be the faster route to obtaining British Passports for the children, as once in the UK, we could fast track the passport applications (something you can't do from abroad).
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Old Aug 13th 2018, 4:02 pm
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Default Re: Relocating to UK with US children (Immigration & UK passports)

Originally Posted by headingbacktoblighty View Post
Hi BritInParis,

Of course, we'd rather not deceive UK immigration. We had planned to travel to the UK with the children on their US passports and declare our intention to reside in the UK on arrival at border control, providing all the required paperwork to prove the children's British Citizen ship (i.e. Original birth certificates showing my wife and I are British citizens, not from descent, and they are our children). However, based on answers above, there seems to be some unquantifiable risk (grey area) as to whether the children would be allowed entry in to the UK if we take that approach.
Only those in possession of a British citizen passport or a valid Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode have the absolute right to enter the UK. Anyone else can be refused entry at the discretion of the Chief Immigration Officer. US citizens are able to request Leave to Enter as a visitor for up to six months on arrival at a port of entry. Anything else will require a valid visa. Your children, as British citizens, are not eligible for a UK visa but nor do they have the right to enter the UK on their US passports alone. An immigration officer is likely to use their discretion to permit entry as a visitor but on the understanding that you obtain their British passports as soon as possible. This is not something you can rely on and you have no recourse in law if they decide not to exercise their discretion. It’s not a course of action I would recommend unless you have no other choice.

The reason for the urgency is I have accepted a job offer in London starting on Sep 24th, and I will be unable to make that date if we have to wait 7-8 weeks to apply for British Passports overseas. We also believe it would be the faster route to obtaining British Passports for the children, as once in the UK, we could fast track the passport applications (something you can't do from abroad).
Your children’s passports are unlikely to take longer than two weeks to arrive once you have sent off their applications.
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