Deprivation Of British Citizenship-Present And Future

Published date04 April 2022
Subject MatterGovernment, Public Sector, Terrorism, Homeland Security & Defence
Law FirmThaxted Legal
AuthorMrs Kasia Janucik


Stripping someone of their citizenship is a radical measure, and therefore unsurprisingly, any changes to the law that are due to increase the government's powers in that respect, are due to attract public attention and scrutiny.

The House of Commons has recently approved the Nationality and Borders Bill. The Bill will now go to the House of Lords who are due to debate it on 5 January 2022. The Bill includes a controversial amendment to section 40 of the British Nationality Act (BNA) 1981, which in certain circumstances will allow the Home Office to deprive someone of their British citizenship without first giving them a notice.

The Home Office previously introduced the same change through a back door by publishing some regulations, without changing the BNA 1981 itself. However, this was challenged in court and the High Court judges' decision pointed out that the BNA 1981 requires a written notice and it could not be met by simply putting a notice to file. Following this court challenge, the Home Office decided to introduce the changes by amending the BNA 1981.

Since July 2021, when the Nationality and Borders Bill was first introduced in the House of Commons, there have been an unprecedented number of articles published in the press and social media by journalists, lawyers, various charities, and the general public, expressing their concerns that someone's British citizenship can be taken away without prior warning.

The public outcry on the matter was so strong, that the Security and Borders Minister, Damian Hinds, decided to publish a letter in the Guardian to address this matter. Mr Hinds stated: 'Removing British citizenship on grounds of being "conducive to the public good" is used against the most dangerous of people, such as terrorists, extremists and serious organised criminals. (...) We would always try to notify someone, but this may not be possible in exceptional circumstances - such as if they're in a war zone, their location is unknown, or it would reveal sensitive intelligence sources.'


The power has been introduced since the 1914 British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act. The 1914 Act introduced provisions dealing with deprivation of citizenship that empowered the Secretary of State to revoke a naturalisation certificate obtained by fraud, false representation or concealment of material circumstances. In 1918, extended powers of deprivation were introduced, targeting naturalised Britons of German origin.

The Secretary of State also gained the power to revoke certificates in cases of treason or disloyalty. Other grounds of loss included residence abroad for longer than 7 years and being sentenced to prison for longer than 1 year within 5 years after naturalisation. Most cases of deprivation were due to residence outside of the Kingdom and not because of fraud or treason.

Following the UK's ratification of the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the possibility to be stripped of citizenship on grounds of residence in...

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