Home Office acted illegally in charging children excessive sum to register as citizens

Home Office acted illegally in charging children excessive sum to register as citizens

The Home Office charged children an excessive sum to register as British citizens, a court has ruled.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the fee of £1,012 charged by Priti Patel’s department breached child welfare rules.

The case was brought by a 13-year-old girl, known as O, who was born in the UK but could not afford the fee to register, along with campaign group The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC).

As it stands, the Home Office charges children the fee to register as British citizens if they were born outside the UK or if they were born in the UK, but before their parents had obtained citizenship or settled status.

It costs the UK government £372 to register children, meaning it makes a profit of £640 per application.

The High Court ruled the fee was unlawful in 2019 and said the Home Office “failed to have regard for the best interests” of children.

The Court of Appeal upheld the ruling.

Lord Justice David Richards said: “There is no issue but that the recent and current levels of fees have had a serious adverse impact on the ability of a significant number of children to apply successfully for registration.

“In cases such as that of O, one of three children of a single parent on state benefits, it is difficult to see how the fee could be afforded at all.”

O said: “I was born in this country and have lived here all my life. 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 since I was 10. I do not understand why I continue to be excluded by this huge fee.”

Solicitor, Solange Valdezsymonds, co-founder of the PRCBC, said: “The government’s priority ought to be to ensure every child with rights to British citizenship can have this confirmed, with all the security, opportunity and sense of belonging that comes with that.

“I continue to be deeply disturbed that thousands of children are blocked by this huge fee from registering their right to British citizenship, given to them by an Act of Parliament.”

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