Right of Abode for Commonwealth Citizens – Full Guide

All individuals who have the right of abode for Commonwealth citizens in the UK enjoy many rights and privileges. Moreover, having the right of abode for Commonwealth citizens means you are allowed to live or work in the United Kingdom without any immigration restrictions.

This means you will not need a visa to come to the UK. Therefore, there is no limit on the length of time you can spend in the United Kingdom.

The right of abode is the most common immigration status in the UK. This is due to its association with British citizenship. However, it should not be confused with the indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Though, ILR is another form of long-term residency status in the United Kingdom. Though you can compare it to other countries’ permanent residence status.

Therefore, in this article, we’re going to explain what the right of abode for Commonwealth citizens is. Its benefits, membership, and other necessary information.

Meaning of right of Abode for Commonwealth Citizens

The right of abode for Commonwealth citizens is an immigration status in the United Kingdom that gives a person the unrestricted right to enter and live in the UK. This was introduced by The Immigration Act 1971 introduced ROACC and went into effect on 1 January 1973.

Also, this status is held by British citizens, certain British subjects, as well as certain Commonwealth citizens with specific connections to the UK before 1983. Since 1983, a person can’t acquire this status without being a British citizen.

Citizens with right of abode in the UK

People who have the right of abode in the United Kingdom are:

  • All British citizens have the right of abode in the UK.
  • Certain individuals from Commonwealth countries are not British citizens.
  • These are citizens from Commonwealth countries who can prove they had the right of abode in the UK on 31 December 1982 and have not ceased to be Commonwealth citizens since then.

Requirements for the right of abode in the UK

There are certain requirements a commonwealth citizen must meet to obtain the right of abode in the UK. They are:

  • You must be a Commonwealth citizen with a parent or adoptive parent who, at the time of your birth or adoption, was a citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC) by birth in the UK.
  • Be a female Commonwealth citizen who is, or has been, married to a man with the right of abode at any time before 31 December 1982.
  • You have not ceased to be a Commonwealth citizen at any time since then.

Meaning of Citizens of the UK and Colonies (CUKC)

The ‘UK and Colonies’ refers to the UK and countries Britain colonized between 1st January 1949 to 31 December 1982. The main form of citizenship was citizenship to the UK and Colonies and people were called ‘citizens of the UK and Colonies’.

Moreover, citizens of the UK and Colonies who had the right of abode on 31 December 1982 automatically became British citizens under the British Nationality Act 1981. UK Visas and Immigration Guidance entitled Nationality Instructions (UK and Colonies).

In reality, not many citizens from Commonwealth countries have the right of abode in the UK. This is due to lack of certain requirements. Suck requirements are: that their parent must have been a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. And that the parent must have been born in the UK.

For this reason people from old Commonwealth countries meet the requirements. Such as Canada or New Zealand are more likely to meet the requirements of the right of abode. However, people from “new” Commonwealth countries did not meet the requirements.

Right of abode for individuals from the Windrush generation

There are individuals from the Windrush generation who meet the requirements of the right of abode in the UK. Though, the UK Government has a separate application process for these individuals known as the Windrush scheme.

Moreover, the Government advises people eligible under the Windrush Scheme to apply for the Windrush Scheme. This application is different from applying for a certificate of entitlement to prove they have the right of abode in the UK.

Benefits of the right of abode

Every individual who have the right of abode in the UK enjoys this benefits. They enjoy this benefits despite whether they are a British citizen, a British subject, or a Commonwealth citizen. The benefits are:

  • An unconditional right to enter, live, work and study in the United Kingdom.
  • An entitlement to use the UK/EEA/Switzerland immigration channel at United Kingdom ports of entry.
  • An entitlement to apply for United Kingdom social security and welfare benefits. Although those with indefinite leave to enter may also apply.
  • A right to vote and to stand for public office in the United Kingdom. Everyone with the right of abode is a Commonwealth citizen. Therefore, these rights are conditional upon living in the United Kingdom.
  • Unlike indefinite leave to remain, a person’s right of abode is normally valid for life and will not lapse. It is valid regardless of how long they stay outside the UK. Whether they have ever set foot in the UK or not, rights cannot be revoked. Revoking it is in the case the holder lose their Commonwealth or British citizenship. Or for Commonwealth citizens, when the Home Secretary deemed it necessary for the public good.

How to prove the right of abode in the UK

You can prove your right of abode in these ways:

  • For British citizens, your British passport describing you as a British citizen is evidence that you have the right of abode in the UK.
  • a UK passport describing you as a ‘British subject’ with the right to abode in the UK.
  • a certificate of entitlement, which is a vignette or sticker fixed inside your passport or travel document.

How to apply for a certificate of entitlement

To apply for a certificate of entitlement by using an online form or by completing Form ROA. Form ROA is only available to those applying within the UK.

However, if you are applying for the certificate from outside the UK, you must apply using the online form.

Recall, once your passport expires or travel document expires, you will need to apply for a new certificate of entitlement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main purpose of the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries working towards shared goals. The Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries working towards shared goals of prosperity, democracy, and peace.

What evidence does the application for a certificate of entitlement require?

Home Office Guidance entitled, ‘Right of Abode (RoA) – Applying for a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode’, published in March 2019, states that you will need to provide the following with your application for a certificate of entitlement:

  • Your valid passport or travel document.
  • Two photographs of you take no more than 6 months before the date of your application.
  • And specific evidence to show how you obtained the right of abode in the UK. The specific evidence required for your application depends on your circumstances.

How much does the application for a certificate of entitlement cost?

At the time of writing, the application for a certificate of entitlement costs £372 if you are applying within the UK and £388 if applying from outside the UK.

How long will it take to process my application for a certificate of entitlement?

For applications for a certificate of entitlement from within the UK, the Home Office has not indicated how long this will take.

However, for certificate of entitlement applications from outside the UK, UK Visas and Immigration Guidance entitled Visa decision waiting times

Does the right of abode expire?

If you do have the right of abode in the UK, this will not ‘expire’ and your certificate of entitlement cannot ‘expire’.

However, your certificate of entitlement will no longer be valid if your passport or travel document expires. If your passport or travel document containing your certificate of entitlement expires, you will need to obtain a new passport or travel document. Then apply for the certificate of entitlement again so it you can fix it back inside your new passport or travel document.

Though, while the right of abode cannot expire, it is possible you can have a revoked, restricted or taken right of abode.

Do Commonwealth citizens have the right to live in the UK?

If you’re part of the ‘Windrush generation’ (also known as ‘Windrush cases’), there’s a different way to prove your right to live in the UK. You may have the right of abode in the UK either because of your parents or because you are or were married to someone with the right of abode.

Is the right of abode the same as citizenship?

The right of abode is the most common immigration status in the UK due to its association with British citizenship. However, it should not be confused with the indefinite leave to remain (ILR), another form of long-term residency status in the UK that is more comparable to other countries’ permanent residence status.

What does it mean to be under the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth is an association of countries across the world. Although historically connected to the British Empire, any country can apply to be a member of the Commonwealth, regardless of its intersection with Britain’s colonial past. The Commonwealth consists of 54 countries, including the United Kingdom.

How do you become a Commonwealth citizen?

Commonwealth citizenship is acquired by being a citizen of a Commonwealth member state or, in the United Kingdom, a country listed in Schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981.

How many countries are members of the Commonwealth?

54 independent. About the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent countries, almost all of which were formerly under British rule

Conclusion

Now you know what right of abode for Commonwealth citizens is. Use our full guide to get yours if you are qualified.

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