William CarrielloPosted on Fri Jul 7
On 29th June 2023, the British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023 was enacted, bringing about a significant change in British nationality law. The introduction of a new section, 50B, into the British Nationality Act 1981 marks a crucial milestone in affirming the British citizenship status of children born in the United Kingdom between 1st January 1983 and 1st October 2000 to EU citizen parents who were exercising their right to free movement at the time of their child’s birth.
Resolving a Discrepancy:
This new legislation serves as a commendable step forward. It not only enshrines a longstanding Home Office policy into law but also addresses a notable discrepancy between existing legislation and policy, which was brought to the forefront on 20th January 2023 in the case of R (on the application of Roehrig) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 31 (Admin). To gain a comprehensive understanding of why this issue has arisen after more than two decades, it is worthwhile to delve into our detailed write-up on the Roehrig case.
Background and Context:
The period between 1st January 1983 and 1st October 2000 witnessed numerous EU citizens exercising their right to free movement and settling in the United Kingdom. During this time, children born to EU citizen parents in the UK should have automatically acquired British citizenship. However, due to inconsistencies in the interpretation and application of existing legislation, the actual status of these individuals remained uncertain. The absence of a clear legal framework led to confusion and anxiety among affected families, who were uncertain about the citizenship rights of their children.
The Roehrig Case:
The case of R (on the application of Roehrig) v Secretary of State for the Home Department brought attention to the urgent need for rectification in this matter. The ruling highlighted the disparity between the Home Office policy and the existing law, underscoring the pressing requirement for legislative action to ensure the rightful recognition of British citizenship for these individuals.
The British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023:
By introducing section 50B into the British Nationality Act 1981, the British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023 resolves the discrepancy and provides a conclusive resolution for affected individuals. This legislation retrospectively confirms the British nationality status of children born in the UK to EU citizen parents between 1983 and 2000, effectively removing any doubts or uncertainties surrounding their citizenship.
The enactment of the British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023 is a significant milestone in rectifying the long-standing issue surrounding the citizenship status of children born in the UK to EU citizen parents. By bringing clarity to the law and aligning it with established Home Office policy, the new legislation ensures that these individuals are recognized as British citizens. This development not only brings relief to affected families but also reaffirms the commitment of the UK government to fairness and inclusivity in its citizenship policies.