The UK Government was taken to court, in a landmark hearing being brought by Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizen, to challenge the £1000 fee that is preventing thousands of children from registering their legal right to British citizenship. It also sought to challenge the legality of whether the Home Office can refuse to offer a fee waiver or fee reduction to a child who cannot afford the fee.
The High Court declined to rule on the lawfulness of the near £1,000 fee but acknowledged, having received a large body of evidence, that thousands of children are affected.
However, the judge acceded to a request from the Home Office that the case should not proceed, arguing that it had become ‘academic’ because after being granted permission to bring the case forward, the claimant had been registered British thanks to a public donation.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty UK’s Programme Director for Refugee and Migrants Rights, said:
“It is hugely disappointing that the court has declined to address this exorbitant fee. It’s appalling that in 21st century Britain, the most basic of children’s rights should be excluded from the poor.
“Tens of thousands of children who were born in this country are at risk of having their futures snatched away from them. Such barefaced profiteering from children by the Home Office is utterly shameful.
The fee for a child to register their right to British citizenship is £973. The Home Office asserts that £386 of this constitutes the administrative cost of registration.
Academic research suggests there are tens of thousands of children in the UK who are without British citizenship, that they are entitled to.
The consequences for these children, increasingly as they near or reach adulthood, can include being unable to access higher education, employment, rented accommodation, a bank account or passport; and action by the Home Office to detain and remove them.
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Image credit: Beth Cortez-Neaval, Flickr