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21 Immigration and Nationality

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1. Introduction

2. Do I need permission to come to the UK?

Only people who have the 'right of abode' in the UK can come here without any immigration controls. This includes all British citizens, and a few Commonwealth and other British nationals (see 'Who has a right to British nationality?' ).

This right does not cover members of these people's families who are not British citizens. They must meet certain conditions to enter the country (see 'Categories of entry' ). There are some controls for Irish and many other European citizens (see 'What if I am a citizen of a European country?', below). All other people are checked when they travel to the UK, even if they live permanently in this country (see 'What if I want to settle in the UK?' ).

What if I am a citizen of a European country?
If you are a citizen of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), you are generally free to enter the UK, to work here and to stay here. However, you can be deported (made to leave) if you commit a serious crime.

The EEA is made up of:

  • the 24 other European Union countries (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, the Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden);
  • Iceland;
  • Norway and
  • Liechtenstein.

Citizens of Switzerland have similar rights to EEA citizens.

Citizens of eight of these countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) need to register with the Home Office during their first year working for an employer here, and pay a small fee.

The special rights of EEA citizens also cover their families (even if members of the family have other nationalities) as long as the EEA citizen is in the UK. If other those family members travel to the UK on passports of a country outside the EEA, they will need to have entry clearance (see 'What sort of permission do I need to come to the UK?'). However, they will not have to pay a fee for it.

3. How is entry to the UK controlled?

4. What sort of permission do I need to come to the UK?

5. What if I want to work in the UK?

6. What restrictions are there after I´ve arrived in the UK?

7. What if I want to settle in the UK?

8. What if my application is refused?

9. What if I stay longer than I am allowed to?

10. Who has a right to British nationality?

11. How can I become a British citizen?

12. Where can I get help with my immigration application?

13. Terms used in immigration and nationality matters

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet


This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and Mick Chatwin, a barrister and solicitor specialising in immigration law.

Leaflet Version: June 2006

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