A decision against the £1012 fee for registering for child citizenship has today been upheld and ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal.
Two judges ruled that the fees were set by the government ‘without consideration of the best interests of children’. Home Office regulations set the price of £1012 for a child’s citizenship application. However, the administrative process costs only £372, leaving £640 profit for the immigration system.
The ‘landmark’ case was brought by the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) and child ‘O’ in 2019. The High Court ruled then that a ‘mass of evidence’ showed the high fees left children ‘alienated, excluded, isolated’ and ‘not fully assimilated into the fabric of the UK’.
Home Office regulations set the price of £1012 for a citizenship application, making £640 profit for the immigration system
The Home Office appealed the ruling, which the Court of Appeal have now upheld, finding that the Home Office did fail in their duty to act in the best interests of children. The department must now reconsider the fee. The decision made by the court shows the Home Office must be seen to actively taking the needs of children into account, as becoming a British citizen as they have a right to, would be in their best interests.
Research estimates have stated that over 100,000 children, most of whom were born in the UK, were affected by this fee. Children in the UK are not British citizens unless one or both of their parents are registered citizens or settled in the UK, which in itself is a process that takes years.
A ‘mass of evidence’ showed the high fees left children ‘alienated, excluded, isolated’ and ‘not fully assimilated into the fabric of the UK’
Lawyers and campaigners have called to an end to fees over and above the costs of administration to register for citizenship. Carol Bohmer, Chair of PRCBC said: ‘We are delighted that the courts have once again held that this scadalously high fee is unlawful. But children are still being excluded, by this and many other barriers the government should be doing all it can to remove.’
Amnesty International UK have supported PRCBC in their work on the case. Steve Valdez-Symonds, Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Director at Amnesty International UK said: ‘It is plainly unjust that any child should effectively be taxed out of their right to British citizenship.’
The court went on to say that the argument was ‘powerful’ because the fees ‘essentially deprives the rights of children to British citizenship’. However, they could not legally enforce the argument in court. The PRCBC have also sought permission to appeal on this point to the Supreme Court.