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Citizenship Deprivation

Citizenship Deprivations: What you need to know

Sep 15, 2021
Last Updated on May 21, 2024

UK Government has the power to deprive someone of their British Citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981. Section 40(2) allows the government to deprive someone of their Citizenship the if “that deprivation is conducive to the public good” but such an order should not be made if deprivation of British citizenship “would make a person stateless”, under section 40(4) of the Act. However, in 2014, section 4A was inserted to the Act, making deprivation possible, in certain circumstances, even where a person may be rendered stateless as a result. 

Under Section 40(3) a person can be deprived of Citizenship if it was obtained using fraud, false representations or through concealment of a material fact or facts.

Under separate government powers, Citizenship can be nullified (made null and void) if it was obtained through using a fraudulent identity. Unlike deprivation, where Citizenship is stripped from the individual, nullification has retrospective effect; the result of nullification is that the Citizenship is considered to never have been granted.

Understanding Citizenship deprivation

Citizenship Deprivation is an Order made by the UK government, to take away a person’s British Citizenship. Such an Order may be made irrespective of whether the person’s Citizenship was derived through birth, registration or naturalisation.

British Citizenship status includes British Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Overseas Citizens, British National (Overseas) Citizens, British Protected Persons and British Subjects.

Deprivation of citizenship isn’t equivalent to a Deportation Order. However, where a person has been deprived of their British citizenship, this will normally prompt removal from the UK, as often, the reason for depriving someone of their British citizenship will also be a ground for the government to issue a Deportation Order. Without the protection of their Citizenship status, the person will normally become liable for removal, if inside the UK.

Grounds of British citizenship deprivation

  1. Section 40(2) of the British nationality act 1981 allows the State Secretary to deprive a person of their British citizenship status if found “conducive to the public good.”
  2. Section 40(3) of the British nationality act 1981 allows the State Secretary to deprive a person of their British citizenship status if found that the person has obtained British Citizenship through Naturalisation by means of fraud, false representation, and/or concealment of a material fact(s).

Such Orders are issued by on behalf of the UK Home Secretary.

According to a study, the Deprivation Orders issued in 2006, 2009, and 2010 were less than 5 in total. Figures rose steeply in 2014, when the law changed to expand the government’s powers to deprive Citizenship obtained through naturalisation.

Between 2006 and 2015, there have been 81 Deprivation Orders, according to a Freedom of Information request;  36 of those Orders were issued under section 40(2) and 45 under section 40(3).

Citizenship Deprivation and Nullification

The government can nullify Citizenship if the applicant used a false identity to apply for Citizenship. Nullification of citizenship is different from Deprivation. The consequence of Nullification is that that the person is considered to never have held British Citizenship. Nullification has a direct implication on the dependents of the principal applicant. 

Suppose you apply for British Citizenship through naturalisation. Your spouse later applies for naturalisation as the spouse of a British Citizen along with your children who were born overseas. If your British citizenship application is declared null and void, your spouse and children are also not British citizens as their eligibility for Citizenship was dependent on you being a British Citizen.

The only ground for appeal against Nullification of Citizenship is through Judicial Review, the decision can be challenged on “lawfulness” grounds.

In contrast, where a person has been deprived of their Citizenship, the individual stops being British when the Deprivation Order is made. This does not affect the citizenship status of the dependents or relatives of the individual who is being deprived of Citizenship.

Citizenship deprivation resulting in ‘statelessness.’

Section 40(4A) was added to the British Nationality Act 1981, allowing the UK government to deprive certain persons of their Citizenship, even where this may render them stateless. This is possible where:

  1. The person holds British Citizenship through Naturalisation
  2. The State Secretary is satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good because the person, when a British citizen, “has conducted him or herself in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom” or associated territories; and
  3. The State Secretary has “reasonable grounds for believing that the person is able, under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, to become a national of such country or territory.”

Consequences of citizenship deprivation

Aside from the damage done to a person’s immigration history, the direct impact of citizenship deprivation can be severe, particularly where a person is forced to leave the UK, and/or cannot return and must reside in a country where they have few or no ties.

Often in such scenarios, the individuals, having made a life for themselves in the UK, lack access to jobs and resources overseas. They may also be at risk of violence or even death in the country to which they have been exiled

How do I know I have been deprived of British Citizenship?

Section 40(5) of the British Nationality Act 1981 instructs the UK State Secretary to issue a notice to the person who is going to be deprived of their British Citizenship, specifying: 

  1. That an order will be made
  2. The reasons for the order
  3. The person’s right of appeal against the order.

Chances of appeal if I have been deprived of British Citizenship

There is a right of appeal against Deprivation Orders under the British Nationality Act 1981. 

It is necessary to seek competent legal advice if issued with a Deprivation Order.

There is no right of appeal against a decision to Nullify British Citizenship, but this can be challenged by way of Judicial Review.


To sum up, if you are seeking British Citizenship, know that your Citizenship can later be taken away, even though these cases are rare. If you use false representations in your Citizenship application, you could have your Citizenship later rendered null and void, affecting not only you, but potentially your family too.

A Y & J Solicitors can help you with bespoke immigration services, including nationality applications, Appeals and Judicial Review.

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