With the Balfour Declaration in 1926, it was decided that all of the countries which once formed the British Empire were in fact equal members of a kind of international club, rather than subordinates to the mother nation (ie. Britain). This international club is called the Commonwealth, and it’s persisted for almost a hundred years. If you’re a citizen of a commonwealth country, then you’re able to enjoy a few special privileges while you’re in the UK. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Right of Abode
You can think of ‘right of abode’ as being as good as a visa – it grants you the right to stay in the UK, but there’s no limit on how long you can stay. If one of your parents was born in the UK, and was a citizen of the UK and its colonies when you were born or adopted, and you were a commonwealth citizen on December 31st 1982 (and have been ever since) then you have the right of abode through your parents.
Women might attain right of abode through marriage, if they’re been married to someone with the right of abode since before January 1st 1983, and have remained a commonwealth citizen since then.
If you’ve lived in the UK since before 1973, then the chances are good that you already have settled status in the UK. The exceptions occur when citizens have been outside the country for longer than two years in a single stretch. If you’ve arrived since 1973, then you won’t get automatic settled status. However, you might apply for leave to remain in the UK indefinitely.
Those with settled status might be able to apply for citizenship. The process can be a little arcane, so the investment in a competent immigration lawyer might be a shrewd one.
Visa-free Travel in the UK
Certain commonwealth citizens will be able to work, study and visit the UK for up to six months. The list of qualifying nations can be found here. Not all of them are Commonwealth members.
Certain commonwealth citizens might benefit from ancestry Visas. These allow holders to remain for five years, before applying for permanent residence (or indefinite leave to remain). Applicants must be from outside of the UK, be older than seventeen, and have a grandparent born in the UK. You’ll also need to have a plan to work, and to have enough money to support yourself.
Applicants will need to pay in order to apply, and there’s a healthcare surcharge of £624 per year to think about, which will need to be paid in full at the outset of the five-year period.