Right of abode
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The right of abode is an individual's freedom from immigration control in a particular country. A person who has the right of abode in a country does not need permission from the government to enter the country and can live and work there without restriction.
Generally, in order to have the right of abode in a certain country, a person must be a citizen of that country. Those with permanent residency of the country generally have a de facto right of residence but it can be revoked in certain circumstances, for example for being convicted of crimes.
EU, EEA, and the Schengen treaty
Citizens of the European Economic Area (the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and Switzerland enjoy the freedom to travel and work in any European Union country without a work permit or visa, although transitory dispositions may restrict the rights of citizens of new member states to work in other countries. This is defined by the Directive 2004/38/EC on the right to move and reside freely.
However rights to reside in another EU/EEA state are not absolute. In particular, they can be refused to those who depend on social assistance, and those who commit crimes may be deported.
Countries that have signed and applied the Schengen treaty (a subset of the EEA) do not implement border controls between each other, unless exceptional circumstances apply. The EEA countries (with the exception of the UK and Ireland) and Switzerland have signed the Schengen treaty. Several of the new member states have not yet fully implemented it.
As a consequence of this, for instance, a French citizen may travel to the United Kingdom, another EEA member state, and then freely live and work in that country. But since the UK has not signed the Schengen treaty, he can be required to present a passport or ID card when entering the UK. This requirement applies similarly to British citizens migrating to France. On the other hand, Switzerland applies the Schengen treaty, so a French citizen is able to travel to Switzerland without being stopped at the border.
That said, a few European countries require all persons to carry an identity card or passport and proof of nationality is normally required to take up residence in any member state. Thus, while the Schengen Treaty facilitates the movement of persons across frontiers, it makes no substantive difference to residence rights.
Nordic Passport Union
All British citizens have right of abode in the United Kingdom. In addition, right of abode is conferred on certain Commonwealth citizens and British subjects born before 1984. This is because if a person has a British mother and is born before 1984 under section 2(1)(b) of the 1971 Immigration Act they are considered to have the same rights as a British citizen. The right of abode is conferred automatically on such persons and they are issued a certificate on their passport in order to enter any United Kingdom Port.
New laws in 2009 now allow children who have the right of abode through their mothers to register as British by descent.
Irish citizens are given similar rights in the United Kingdom, but they do not formally have right of abode, and there are circumstances in which an Irish citizen can be deported from or denied entry to the United Kingdom. However, Citizens of Ireland under revised legislation are not automatically subject to deportation as EEA members are, as Parliament has considered "the close historical, community and political ties between the United Kingdom and Ireland, along with the existence of the Common Travel Area." Irish citizens are therefore legally subject to deportation from the UK only in exceptional circumstances where the public interest is concerned.
Further to the provisions stated above, under the terms of the British Immigration Act 1971 exceptions, a long term resident Irish or Commonwealth citizen is granted immunity from deportation similar to British and Commonwealth citizens who hold right of abode by virtue of a residency term of at least 5 years in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This only applies to non aliens (Commonwealth and Irish Citizens) of the United Kingdom, so these provisions are not generally considered for aliens with leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Refer to section 7 of the Immigration Act 1971 for more information - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1971/77
British Overseas Territories
All British overseas territories operate their own immigration controls which apply to British citizens as well as to those from other countries. These territories generally have local immigration laws regulating who has belonger status in that territory.
De facto right of abode
The immigration laws of some countries give a de facto right of abode to citizens of other specified countries.
Full permanent resident
This includes cases where there is access to citizenship:
- New Zealand grants Australian citizens full permanent resident rights in New Zealand.
- The United Kingdom and Ireland grant automatic permanent residency to each other's citizens.
- Full permanent residency rights exist between the countries of the Nordic Council (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland).
As long-term temporary residents
In these cases there is a right of residence but without access to full citizenship rights:
- New Zealand citizens in Australia, but since 2001, Australia grants only limited rights.
- Citizens of EEA member states and Switzerland living in each other's country (except the cases above).
- Belonger status
- Common Travel Area
- Free movement of workers
- Permanent residency
- Schengen Treaty
- Right of return