United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom - Passport & Nationality - British Citizenship by Triple Descent (Children of Romein Qualifiers)

Listen to our RECENT WEBINAR where our two British nationality experts - Philip Gamble and Mishal Patel - discuss the ways in which children under 18 can have rights to British nationality.

A child who is still under the age of 18 could be registered as a British citizen under the following circumstances:

  • a parent qualifies for British nationality under the Romein Principle*;
  • the family relocates to the UK; AND
  • the family spends at least 3 years in the UK.



If the family is considering a move to the UK, the following factors should be considered:

  • The parent who qualifies for British nationality under the Romein Principle should also qualify for a UK Ancestry Visa. If their partner does not already have British or EU nationality or qualify in their own right for a UK Ancestry Visa, and must rely on a UK Spouse Visa, there are strict financial criteria that must be satisfied before the Spouse Visa can be granted. Oddly, such strict financial criteria do not apply if the partner applies to become a dependant of an Ancestry Visa holder. So it is often easier to move over as a family on the Ancestry Visa and for the Romein Principle qualifier to obtain British nationality only after they arrive in the UK.
  • For every child added as a dependant on the UK Spouse, the financial requirement increases accordingly. Oddly, this does not happen if the child is added as a dependant on the Ancestry Visa.
  • If the parents moved over to the UK on the Ancestry Visa and the Romein Principle qualifier registers as a British citizen only after becoming resident in the UK, it could be argued that the child has also suffered from gender discrimination in the old law. As a result, the child could be registered as a British citizen after only 3 years in the UK. Crucially, the effect of this registration results in the child becoming British Otherwise than by Descent, with the ability to pass British nationality to their own children, irrespective of where they are born.



In some cases, the other partner will already hold British or Irish nationality. Both statuses would normally result in that parent being considered "Settled" for immigration purposes upon arrival in the UK. If this is the case, then the family should consider the following:

  • the Romein Principle qualifier could register as a British citizen before moving to the UK;
  • the child could enter the UK with Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE), rather than being a dependant on one of the parents; AND
  • the child could be registered as a British citizen after a short period of residence in the UK.

This arises because both parents would be considered as "Settled" for immigration purposes.



Legislation was passed in 2002 to address the unfairness that those born before 1 January 1983 to British mothers could not acquire British Nationality. However, elements of gender discrimination still existed. Those who were born to a British mother who was not born in the UK could not take advantage of the various double descent provisions of the earlier law that were available to those born to a British man. A recent Supreme Court Judgement in the UK has made it clear that it is unlawful for the UK Government to impose a requirement from the past on new applicants for citizenship where it was not lawfully possible for that requirement to be met at the time. This applies to the following:

 a) born in a foreign country (which includes South Africa from 31 May 1962, the United States and most European countries);

 b) born between 1 January 1949 and 31 December 1982; AND

 c) their maternal grandfather (i.e. their mother's father) was born in the UK or Northern Ireland.

The circumstances become more complicated if a) you or your mother were born out of wedlock or b) your paternal grandfather was born in the UK. Also, if your circumstances fall outside of the context of the Court Judgement, then this may invalidate a potential claim.

The judgement has already attracted some criticism and no doubt the Home Office will look at how they respond to this development. It is possible that this particular route to British nationality could be legislated against. It is therefore our advice that, if you qualify for this route to British nationality, you action this as soon as possible.


Ask Philip Gamble whether you (or your children) have a claim to British nationality.

Learn more about these routes to British Nationality:

WhatPassport.com is a specialist UK Nationality and British Citizenship site offering an online search and assessment. Claims to hold a British Passport can be complex and the site offers a quick, simple search to give you the answers. While many people qualify for the UK Ancestry Visa based on holding a Commonwealth passport with a UK born grandmother or grandfather, we have found that if you have a grandparent born in the UK, or if your mother is British or your father is British, then there are several scenarios where you can claim British Nationality and the right to hold a British Passport. This stems from Britain’s collection of British Colonies, British Protectorates and British Protected States in the middle of last century and the Nationality rules concerning what are now the countries of the Commonwealth.

WhatPassport.com is a subsidiary of Sable International.

Sable International offers a range of services relating to UK and Australian immigration. For over 20 years, we have been helping people with their UK and Australian visa applications. We assist with applications for Ancestry visas, spouse visas, work visas, Tier 1 visas, UK working holiday visas, UK dependant visas, Tier 4 visas, UK Visitor visas, sponsorship visas or UK permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain. We also specialise in UK visa extensions. If you’ve overstayed your visa, our Overstayer Status Trace service can assist to regularise your visa status.