Is it unlawful for the government to charge a child an application fee of £1012 before it will grant him or her the citizenship to which he or she is entitled?
Does it make a difference that the actual cost of processing such an application is only £372, such that the government is making a over £600 profit on each application?
Should exceptions be made for children in the care of the local authority or who are destitute or unable to pay the fee?
These are some of the issues that the High Court will consider today in a challenge brought by the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) against the Home Office fee which the current Home Secretary himself described as “a huge amount of money”.
Independent research conducted by Citizens UK has revealed that the UK charges children who were born or raised here and who are applying to become British citizens almost ten times more than Spain, France, Belgium and many other EU countries, several of whom do not charge any fee.
PRCBC claims that in imposing a profit-making element on children’s citizenship the Home Office has acted unlawfully because it is under a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and to act in children’s best interests unless those interests are clearly outweighed by other serious public interest factors.
The Court will be asked to give PRCBC permission to proceed with the judicial review.
The size of the current fee is an enormous obstacle to thousands of children in the UK from accessing citizenship to which they are entitled.
Without British citizenship, children are denied a sense of identity, integration, and sense of belonging.
British citizenship also means that the child obtains all the advantages of citizenship, including the right to remain in Britain, freedom from immigration control, access to student loans, employment, health services and other social benefits.
At worst, a child who is not registered at British is at risk of being removed, often to a country s/he has barely lived in and knows nothing about.
Many of my clients who later end with immigration problems always regret the fact that they never naturalised.
If you are able to afford the application fee, please see my post on how to go about registering your child as British.
Wishing PRBCB all the best today in their challenge which could change the lives of thousands of children and young people in the UK.
Mishcon de Reya are acting pro bono as solicitors, and Amanda Weston QC and Richard Reynolds of Garden Court Chambers are acting pro bono as counsel, for PRCBC.
Visadreams.com, Diary of an Immigration Lawyer, is a blog run by Fahad Ansari, the director and principal solicitor of Riverway Law, a niche UK immigration and nationality law practice based in London. If you would like any advice or assistance in relation to your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com or submit your details here.