UK Immigration Terms: What is Right of Abode?

UK Immigration Terms: What is Right of Abode?

UK Immigration: What is the Right of Abode?


Foreign citizens applying for a visa to the United Kingdom often encounter the term “Right of Abode,” which could be mistaken for one’s entitlement to own a house or property. According to the UK government, the phrase means “one’s right to live or work in the UK without any immigration restrictions.”  According to UK immigration rules, there are two scenarios in which a person can obtain the Right of Abode (ROA) from the state. 

These include:
  • if the person is a natural-born British citizen 
  • if the person is a Commonwealth citizen and has obtained the right of abode before 1 January 1983
A parent can get the Right of Abode if:
  • one of their parents was born in the UK or a citizen of the United Kingdom and its colonies (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia) when he/she was born or adopted;
  • if he/she has not ceased to be a Commonwealth citizen since 1 January 1983 (even temporarily);
  • Please note that obtaining ROA through marriage can only be achieved if the Commonwealth citizen is a female.
Evidencing your Right of Abode
The following documentation can be used to support your Right of Abode application, according to section 3(9) of the 1971 Act, as amended by the Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality Act 2006.
  • a valid UK passport describing a person as a British citizen
  • a valid UK passport stating a person as a British subject with the right of abode
  • a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode

Immigrants and Foreigners

According to the UK law, immigrants from the European Economic Area (EEA) region may only a conditional right to abode in the country. Circumstances where a Right of Abode may be obtained, include:
  • if the immigrant and his/her family members have retired from employment or self-employment in the UK;
  • if he/she has been granted permanent residence status after five years of stay in the UK;
  • if he/she has obtained Irish citizenship or has become one, under the Common Travel Area provisions (de facto right, except for those who were born before 1949 and have reclaimed British subject status.
Therefore, immigrants who have obtained UK permanent residency and indefinite leave to remain, may still not be entitled to ROA.

A statement regarding the status of EU nationals after the referendum

The UK government clarified that there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the United Kingdom despite the referendum result. The country remains a member of the European Union (EU) until it formally and officially completes the Brexit procedures. EU nationals were also assured that Brexit would not change the country’s adherence to providing legal protection to all the immigrants from the EU region.
“When we do leave the EU, we fully expect that the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in EU member states, will be properly protected.The government recognises and values the important contribution made by EU and other non-UK citizens who work, study and live in the UK,” officials said in a statement.

To find out more about how Brexit may impact your status in the UK,  we invite you to speak with our registered UK Migration Consultant to determine the best course of actions to preserve your Right of Abode and status in the UK.
About Migration Expert:
Migration Expert is the visa & immigration consulting company of choice in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. Our registered consultants provide expert legal counsel on all aspects of immigration law and visas, including family-sponsored immigration, employment-sponsored immigration, investment immigration, temporary visas for work and college, permanent residence, citizenship, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals. 
Interested in living, working, studying or travelling to the UK? Visit our website at Get more updates on UK Immigration by following us here. For more visa-related questions, speak to one of our OISC-registered UK migration consultants. 


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