Right of Abode
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The right of Abode (ROA) is a term to describe those who are free from immigration control but do not at the same time hold British citizenship. It means you do not need to ask permission to enter the United Kingdom or live and work here.
Having right of abode means you’re allowed to live or work in the UK without any immigration restrictions, which means:
- you won’t need a visa to come to the UK
- there’s no limit on the length of time you can spend in the country
All British citizens automatically have right of abode in the UK.
Some Commonwealth citizens may also have right of abode.
You can prove you have right of abode if you have a UK passport describing you as a British citizen or British subject with the right of abode.
How do I know if I am a British citizen with the right of abode?
You will have become a British citizen on 1 January 1983 (the date on which the British Nationality Act 1981 came into force) and so will have the right of abode in the UK if, immediately before that date, any of the following applied to you.
- You were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and had your citizenship by being born, adopted, naturalised or registered in the United Kingdom.
- You were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and your parent (see note below) was, at the time of your birth or legal adoption, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by being born, adopted, naturalised or registered in the United Kingdom.
- You were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and your parent qualified for the right of abode under 2 above.
- You were a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies at any time before 1 January 1983, and had been living in the UK for five years or more without a break. During that period, you met all the terms of the immigration laws and, at the end of that period, you did not have any time limit on your stay.
- You were a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies and were then, or had previously been, the wife of a man with the right of abode in the United Kingdom.
You will also be a British citizen if:
- you were born in the United Kingdom after 31 December 1982 and one of your parents was then a British citizen or legally settled in the United Kingdom
- you were born outside the United Kingdom after 31 December 1982 and at the time of your birth one parent was a British citizen other than by descent (for example, by naturalisation, registration or birth), or
- you were registered or naturalised as a British citizen after 31 December 1982.
Certificates of entitlement
A certificate of entitlement to the right of abode in the UK is placed in a valid passport. It constitutes proof of your right of abode for UK immigration control purposes. If you hold a UK passport describing you as a British citizen, or as a British subject with the right of abode in the UK, you will not qualify for a certificate of entitlement. If you already have a valid certificate of entitlement in another foreign passport, you will not qualify for a further certificate of entitlement.
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