The current child British citizenship fee charged by the government has been ruled unlawful by the UK Court of Appeal.
As it stands, registering a child as a British citizen costs £1,012, despite the cost of processing the registration forming around one-third of this at £374.
According to the Home Office, the fee is used to ‘fund other areas of work’, and is therefore seen as totally necessary. However, the Court of Appeal verdict states that UK immigration officials have ‘failed to consider the impact of the fee on children and their rights’, with the fee proving completely unaffordable for a number of families.
The charge attached to child British citizenship registrations has been an issue of controversy for a number of years. Alongside a lack of legal advice, the fee has prevented significant numbers of children from registering as citizens, denying them rights and access to social support in the process.
The High Court first adjudged the fee to be unlawful in December 2019, with the decision centring on how children are prevented from registering as citizens despite possessing the legal right to do so.
This, it was argued, leaves children feeling like they were ‘second-best, alienated and not fully integrated into UK society and culture.’
The Home Office appealed against the court’s verdict that it had failed in its duty to give due consideration to the best interests of children and give priority to these interests when deciding on fees.
But the High Court dismissed the appeal, asserting that the Home Office must review the fee and ensure that children are placed at the heart of decision-making.
The case was brought by the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC). Their chair, Carol Bohmer, reacted to the decision by stating that she was delighted about the court’s conclusion that the ‘scandalously high’ fee was unlawful.
“We will continue in our mission so no one is in future forced to grow up in the UK suffering the alienation and isolation that is currently the experience of so many young people.”
Alongside the PCRBC, the case was brought forward by a 13-year-old child known only as O, who said:
“I am no less British than any of my friends. It makes me upset to think they or other people might treat me as different if they knew I don’t have a British passport.
I have a right to citizenship and have been since I was 10. I do not understand why I continue to be excluded by this huge fee.”
For the past eight years, Bohmer- alongside PCRBC founder Solange Valdex-Symonds- has been campaigning against the continued imposition of extortionate child citizenship fees.
Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, described children being denied their rights by child citizenship fees as ‘shameful’. He demanded that the government immediately bring the fees in line with administration costs.
“Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money defending her bad decisions in the courts, Priti Patel should get on with fixing the UK immigration system so that everyone is treated with dignity and the public can have confidence that it is fair and effective.”
In response to the Court of Appeal’s decision, a Home Office spokesperson said:
“Citizenship registration fees are charged as part of a wider fees approach designed to reduce the burden on UK taxpayers. The Home Office acknowledges the court’s ruling and will review child registration fees in due course.”
How we can help
If you’re concerned about being unable to register your child as a citizen due to the fee, contact our client care team today on 0333 305 9375 for immediate help and assistance.
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