UK nationality and immigration for babies of EUSS participants
12 September 2023
Individuals with status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will need to take certain actions for the UK nationality or immigration rights of a new baby to be recognised. The relevant actions depend on the circumstances and in some cases involve meeting short deadlines.
In this article we look at some common scenarios for EUSS participants who are expecting a new baby or have a recent arrival. The scenarios assume that at the baby’s relevant parent has status under the EUSS as an eligible EEA/Swiss citizen primary rights holder (not as a family member).
Scenario 1: baby born in the UK to a parent with settled status
Where a baby is born in the UK and at least one of the parents has settled status under the EUSS, the baby will be a British citizen by birth irrespective of the immigration status of the other parent. It is advisable for the parents to apply for a British passport for the baby for easy recognition of the baby’s status as a British citizen and to facilitate the baby’s return to the UK if the baby travels abroad.
Parents should not apply for settled status under EUSS for the baby in this scenario. This is because the baby has British citizenship by operation of law and therefore cannot be granted permission under UK immigration laws.
Scenario 2: baby born in the UK to parents with limited immigration permission
Where a baby is born in the UK to a parent with pre-settled status and where the other parent also has pre-settled status or limited immigration permission, the baby will be eligible to apply for pre-settled status under EUSS. The baby may also be eligible to apply as a dependant of a parent with non-EUSS limited immigration permission. The preferred course of action should be considered on a case-by-case basis, however pre-settled status may be favoured as there are no government application fees and the requirements for acquiring settled status may be more liberal than under other immigration routes.
The parents should apply for pre-settled status for the baby within three months of birth. It is important to seek to comply with this deadline (even if an identity document for the baby has not yet been issued) because the Home Office is now being more stringent in rejecting late applications under the EUSS.
Applying for pre-settled status within three months of birth will also assist in ensuring the baby continues to be eligible to access NHS healthcare free of charge. A baby born in the UK is exempt from NHS charging for the first three months after birth in the UK, provided they do not leave the UK within that time. A child with a valid application under the EUSS or who has been granted pre-settled or settled status is also exempt from charging.
Scenario 3: Baby born outside the UK to a parent with settled status
Where a baby is born outside the UK to a parent with settled status, the baby should be eligible to apply for settled status as a joining family member, assuming they are not born a British citizen by descent.
There is no immediate deadline to make the EUSS application, however, it is best to apply as early as possible to facilitate the baby’s entry to the UK and stay in the UK with settled status rather than as a visitor. An application must normally be made before the child turns 21. It may be possible for a child over 21 to apply, provided they are dependent on the parent with settled status (or their spouse or partner) at the date of application.
The child will be eligible to apply directly to the EUSS from abroad if they have a valid EEA or Swiss passport or national identity card with a biometric chip. For children without these documents, an application for an EUSS family permit will be needed to come to the UK, after which, the child must apply for settled status within three months of arrival in the UK. A late application may be accepted after this deadline if reasonable grounds for lateness are accepted by the Home Office.
Scenario 4: Baby born outside the UK to a parent with pre-settled status
Where a baby is born outside the UK to a parent with pre-settled status and where the other parent also has pre-settled status or limited immigration permission, the baby should be eligible for pre-settled status as a joining family member.
The deadlines to apply for pre-settled status are the same as for scenario 3 above, however it is best to apply for pre-settled status as early as possible to facilitate the child’s entry to the UK and stay in the UK under the EUSS rather than as a visitor.
An application for the child should either be made directly to the EUSS from abroad or for an EUSS family permit followed by pre-settled status under the EUSS, with the same considerations as for scenario 3 above.
Tips for parents
Some points for parents to note are below.
- Consider the UK nationality and immigration position and options for the baby as early as possible, and ideally before the baby is born;
- Apply for a birth certificate as soon as possible, noting that an English/Welsh language translation may be required to support an application for a baby born outside the UK; and
- Apply for a passport (preferable to national ID card for EEA/Swiss nationality) as soon as possible to facilitate the processing of applications and travel from and to the UK.
For babies born in the UK
- Consider whether the baby is British by birth and make an application for a British passport as early as possible to facilitate travel from and to the UK, as well as easy recognition of nationality status;
- Ensure the three-month deadline for making an EUSS application is complied with, even if supporting documentation (such as a birth certificate or passport) is not yet available;
- Consider taking out private health insurance if a late application is made inside the UK for pre-settled status;
- Consider taking advice on options if an EUSS application is rejected due to lack of reasonable grounds for a late application; and
- Consider taking advice if NHS charges are imposed.
For babies born outside the UK
- Consider applying for pre-settled status under the EUSS directly if eligible rather than applying first for an EUSS family permit; and
- Consider applying for settled status for the baby at the same time as the relevant parent becomes eligible to apply for settled status (noting that automatic grant of settled status is currently being contemplated by the UK Government – see our earlier article for further information).
This article does not cover all situations and specific advice may be needed for more complex scenarios such as adoption, or where the parent with status under the EUSS holds this as a family member. If you have queries about this topic, please get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team.
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