The British Nationality and Status of Aliens Acts of 1914 and 1918 codify most exhaustively the conditions of naturalization and define categorically the ex-I pression ‘British Nationality.’
An alien seeking naturalization should apply to the Home Secretary at the Home Office, Whitehall, for a certificate of naturalization, provided he has resided in the United Kingdom for not less than a year immediately previous to making his application, and has, within the last eight years before making the application, resided for four years in the British Empire or its Dependencies.
He must show evidence of good character, and that he has a working knowledge of the language; that he has, within the last eight years, resided in the Dominions or been in the service of the Crown for at least five years; and that it is his intention to continue in the service of the Crown or to reside in the British Empire.
It is at the discretion of the Home Secretary to grant or refuse such application, and there is no appeal from his decision; and in the event of fraud, misrepresentation, disloyalty, criminal offence, or continued absence for seven years, the certificate will be revoked.
Infants (in the legal sense) automatically receive certificates of naturalization with the parents, though in special cases they may receive them independently. On attaining the age of 21, if, within twelve calendar months, they make a declaration of alienage, they may cease to be British subjects. Similarly, if the parent ceases to be a British subject, the children become aliens.
Wives take their husbands’ nationality, though, if they wish they may remain British subjects after their husbands have renounced such nationality, but a special declaration must be made to this effect. The British-born widow of an alien may regain her nationality on making special application ; she does not, as many people imagine, automatically regain her British status on becoming a widow.