The High Court has ruled that fees charged by the Home Office to register children as British citizens are unlawful.
The Home Office currently charges £1,012 to register one child, despite the actual expense of processing only costing the Home Office £372 – meaning that they make around £640 in profit per application.
Mr Justice Jay said that the profit was causing migrant families and children to feel “alienated, insecure and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK.”
The high cost of application fee also meant that many families were unable to apply on behalf of their children because the cost was simply too much.
The Home Office will now have to review the fee and lower it to more affordable prices.
The damage done to thousands of children is dreadful and still far from fully quantifiable.
– Carol Bohmer, Chair of PRCBC
Carol Bohmer, the Chair of the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), the organisation which brought forward the legal case with Amnesty, said that the ruling was a landmark, but that “the fight for justice for children born and growing up in the UK goes on”.
“The damage done to thousands of children is dreadful and still far from fully quantifiable. So much more still needs to be done so that children, their parents and carers, know their citizenship rights and to ensure the many barriers to exercising these rights are removed, including this profit-making fee,” Bohmer added.
PRCBC brought the case on the behalf of two children – A, aged three, and O, aged 12 – who were both born in the UK but were not granted citizenship.
Following the judgement, O spoke to the court.
“I was born in this country and have lived here all my life. I feel as British as any of my friends and it’s not right that I am excluded from citizenship by a huge fee,” they said.
“I want to be able to do all the things my friends can. I don’t want to have to worry they will find out I don’t have a British passport and think that means I am not the same as them.”
I was born in this country and have lived here all my life. I feel as British as any of my friends and it’s not right that I am excluded from citizenship by a huge fee
– O, one of the children in the case
Solange Valdez-Symonds, the solicitor for the two children, added that the ruling was significant to recognising the rights of “thousands of children and that the consequences of blocking their registration rights is alienating and harmful.”
“While that recognition is a great step forward, the fact remains that tens of thousands of British children are growing up in this country deprived of their rights to its citizenship, including by this shamelessly profiteering fee.
“For too long, children and their citizenship rights have not been respected. That must change.
“The Government should make an immediate start by ending the use of this fee to raise revenue for the Home Office,” they added.