The Home Office has finally introduced fee waivers for applications by children for British citizenship.
The new policy will enable anyone under the age of 18 who is unable to afford the £1012 application fee to have it waived in its entirety.
The change comes following a decision by the High Court that was upheld by the Court of Appeal in the case of PRCBC, O & A v Secretary of State for the Home Department that the Home Secretary had failed to consider the best interests of children when setting the fee.
To qualify for the fee waiver, applicants must “credibly demonstrate that they cannot afford the fee” and that there income is not sufficient to meet the child’s need.
The criteria is met when the applicant and their parent(s) do not have sufficient funds at their disposal, after meeting their essential living needs, to pay the fee.
Essential living needs consist of costs for housing or accommodation, utilities, food, clothing, toiletries, non-prescription medication, and household cleaning items.
It would also include the costs of travel and communication to enable the child to maintain interpersonal relationships and access a reasonable level of social, cultural and religious life
The onus is on applicants to show that they meet the requirements to qualify for a fee waiver.
They will usually be required to submit the last six months of their bank statements and details of their income and outgoings.
The policy expressly states that a child who is looked after by a local authority will not have to pay the fee.
Other children received support from a local authority may pass the affordability test on the basis that the local authority will have already conducted their own assessment of the applicant’s needs when deciding to provide support.
There is no automatic fee waiver however for a child whose family is receiving welfare benefits or other government support. This should just be taken into consideration when assessing affordability.
Overall this is a very welcome development although how the Home Office applies the policy on a day-to-day basis is what will truly demonstrate whether the extent to which this obstacle to citizenship has been removed.
Many congratulations to the incredible efforts of the team at the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) who have fought against the extortionate fee for many years.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your details here.