History of British Nationality Law - Commonwealth Immigrants Acts

Commonwealth Immigrants Acts

In the 1960s Britain was concerned with the possible effect of large-scale immigration from its former colonies in Asia and Africa. Until the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, all Commonwealth citizens could enter and stay in the United Kingdom without any restriction. The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 made Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) whose passports were not directly issued by the United Kingdom Government (i.e. passports issued by the Governor of a colony or by the Commander of a British protectorate) subject to immigration control. Those with passports issued at a British High Commission in an independent Commonwealth country or British Consulate remained free from immigration control.

The 1962 Act also increased the residence period for Commonwealth citizens (plus British subjects and Irish citizens) applying for registration as Citizens of the UK and Colonies from one year to five years.

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 sharpened the distinction between citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) who had close ties with the United Kingdom and were free to enter, and those citizens who had no such ties and were therefore subject to immigration control. Particularly in the newly independent Commonwealth countries of East Africa, the result was that there were now citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who had the right of residence nowhere.

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