Update on various PRCBC policy and casework on Children’s British Citizenship matters
2 August 2021
We wish to provide the following updates on a number of PRCBC key court challenges and policy work:
1. Section 3(1) BNA 1981 (registration of children by discretion)
Further to our previous update on this page and note circulated to professional individuals and google groups on our section 3(1) High Court challenge which was settled by the High Court in April this year, the SSHD had aimed to review her policy guidance by the end of July this year. We have now been informed by the Home Office that they will be not be completing the review of their policy until after the citizenship fee Supreme Court judgement in PRCBC & O v SSHD is delivered.
PRCBC have written to the Home Office for further information about this and we hope to provide any updates as soon as received.
2. Absent or hostile parent(s) not wishing to provide evidence of their settled/British citizenship status to facilitate confirmation/registration of their children’s citizenship rights
PRCBC court challenges and our various representations to Home Office officials have paid off! For years the nationality section and Passport Agency have refused to look into their own records to satisfy themselves of an absent parent’s settled status or British citizenship and issue a British passport or register our young clients as British. They have now confirmed to PRCBC that they have reviewed their poor practice and their caseworkers will in future look into their own records where it is not possible for an applicant to confirm a parent’s settled status or British citizenship.
3. PRCBC & O v SSHD citizenship fee case Supreme Court judgment
As you will know, on 23 and 24 June, the Supreme Court heard PRCBC & O’s appeals. It’s unclear how soon the court will deliver its judgment other than it’s important to note that the court had treated PRCBC & O as expedited cases. We will provide an update as soon as judgment has been delivered.
4. Citizenship training
PRCBC will shortly be publicising its annual training delivery dates on various British citizenship topic.
If you have any queries on any of the above, please e-mail email@example.com
Solicitor and CEO
PRCBC & O v SSHD citizenship fee case heard by the Supreme Court on 23 and 24 June 2021
On 23 and 24 June, the Supreme Court heard PRCBC & O v SSHD citizenship fee case. You can watch the hearing by following this link:
The Supreme Court will deliver judgment in due course. It’s unclear how soon save to note that the court had treated PRCBC & O as expedited cases. We will provide an update on this page as soon as judgment has been delivered.
In 2013, PRCBC carried out its first intense legal research on the Home Office citizenship fees. We are grateful to the Strategic Fund Legal for funding this legal research in 2013-2014 and Paul Hamlyn Foundation for grants given towards PRCBC’s work in 2014-2015 and 2017-2019. More recently, we are grateful to Therium Access (April 2020 to date), Trust For London (April 2021 to date) and Community Justice Funds (CJF) (2020-2021) for awarding us grants in support of our strategic litigation work and general casework.
We are also grateful to our legal teams, our young people and those organisations who provided supporting statements when PRCBC & Others v SSHD case was prepared for a hearing in the High Court.
See Susan’s Blog: Why is the Government profiteering from my children’s British citizenship rights?
See joint Briefing on citizenship fees published by PRCBC and Amnesty UK, first published in 2016:
For PRCBC background note on this citizenship fee challenge (February 2021):
For our FAQs (updated on 30 May 2021)
Amendment to the British Nationality Act 1981 to take effect from 1 July 2021
Draft Regulations have been laid (British Nationality Act 1981 (Immigration Rules Appendix EU) (Amendment) Regulations 2021). These are intended to amend the British Nationality Act 1981 so that a child born to an European Union citizen on or after 1 July 2021, who is not born a British citizen will automatically acquire British citizenship if and when the parent becomes settled provided the parent either had applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or would have been eligible for settled status under the scheme immediately before 1 July 2021.
We have jointly written to Kevin Foster MP, Immigration Minister, to welcome this proposed amendment. However, we have requested the Home Office takes steps to ensure it is effective for all the children to whom it applies.
The Home Office have settled PRCBC judicial review test cases on children seeking to register as British citizens by discretion
The Home Office settled five judicial review claims brought by teenagers challenging the policy under which they were refused registration as British citizens under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981. All five young people have been assisted by PRCBC and were represented by our solicitor, Solange Valdez-Symonds.
Each of these young people was brought to the UK at a young age, has grown up in this country and applied to be registered as a British citizen during their teenage years (generally at age 16 or 17).
The lead case had been expedited to be heard on 5 May as test case following an Order of Sir Wyn Willliams in the High Court. However, the Home Office has settled that case, and each of the other cases, on the basis that it will register the young person and review its policy with the aim of producing a revised policy within 3 months.
Pending this review, the Home Office has confirmed it will not refuse applications for registration by discretion; and will continue to grant registration in circumstances where it would normally have done so prior to the review.
This is a significant achievement for PRCBC, which has assisted hundreds of children to register by discretion in the last eight years. In many cases, this has necessitated the issue of a pre-action letter or the issue of a judicial review claim. The evidence collated by PRCBC from the children it has assisted over the last near decade reveals:
- the importance of citizenship to young people, who have grown up in the UK from a young age and identify as British;
- the impact upon these young people of being without and being refused British citizenship; and
- the repeated practice of the Home Office in conceding judicial review claims of these refusals.
This evidence and the learning gained by PRCBC since 2012 has all be vital in securing the concessions in these five cases and the review of policy. PRCBC will continue to monitor closely Home Office policy and practice on registration of British citizenship, including the outcome of this review.
PRCBC is grateful to the following individuals and organisations for their support:
Legal team: Solange Valdez-Symonds (PRCBC Solicitor and Director), Adrian Berry (Garden Court Chambers) and Admas Habteslasie (Landmark Chambers)
Youth consultants and other young people: Precious Arabambi, Toni-Ann Murphy, Dajay Brown, Mubarak Tairu and Linden Mercurius.
Our Funders: Therium Access, Community Justice Fund (CJF) and Trust for London.
Organisations: Amnesty International UK (Steve Valdez-Symonds), 3Million Youth Network (Alexandra Bulat), Wesley Gryk Solicitors (Diana Baxter)
Patron: Laurie Fransman QC (Garden court Chambers and author of Fransman’s British Nationality Law)
Past contributors: Declan O’Callaghan, Amanda Weston QC (Garden Court Chambers), Alison Harvey (N.5 Chambers), Ronan Toal (Garden Court Garden Chambers), Dirghayu Patel (LawStop), Ubah Dirie (Garden Court chambers).
For our legal casenote, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRCBC Board of Trustees
Court of Appeal Judgment on Children’s Citizenship Fee
The Court of Appeal has today upheld the High Court ruling that the £1,012 fee for a child to register as a British citizen is unlawful because it is set without consideration of the best interests of children. Two judges also indicate they see “considerable force” in PRCBC’s argument that the fee is additionally unlawful because it effectively deprives many children of their rights to British citizenship. While the court decides it is bound by its previous decision in R (Williams) to nonetheless reject this additional argument. PRCBC has sought and been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on this point.
For our Frequently Asked Questions
For our joint press release
For Court of Appeal Judgement
We are grateful to all for their support in particular:
- Our beneficiaries (children with citizenship rights)
- Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK
- PRCBC Legal Team: Our solicitors, Maria Patsalos and Lucy Grant (Mishcon de Reya), Richard Drabble QC (Landmark Chambers), Miranda Butler (Garden Court Chambers) and Isabel Buchanan (Blacktsones)
- The Legal Team in O: Richard Drabble QC, Admas Habteslasie (Landmark Chambers), Jason Pobjoy (Blackstones Chambers). Solange Valdez- Symonds (Solicitor)
- Steve Valdez-Symonds’ colleagues, Amnesty International UK
- Therium Access (our funder)
- Fiona Carrick-Davies, Surrey Square School
- Baroness Lister (PRCBC patron)
- Lord Alton
- Prof Helen Stalford (Liverpool Law Clinic)
- Our volunteers: Mike Poulter (Turpin Miller solicitors), Amarjit Ahluwalia (SCOMO), Kitty Falls (Kitty Falls Immigration Law), Joanna Hunt (Lewis Silkin) and Steve Valdez-Symonds (Amnesty UK).
- Organisations and individuals who provided statements and other support in this court case: Baroness Lister, Lord Alton, Prof. Helen Stalford (Liverpool University Law Clinic), Stuart McDonald MP, Prof. Donald Hirsch (Loughborough University), Henry St Clair Miller (No Recourse to Public Funds Network), Fiona Carrick-Davies (Surrey Square Primary School), Steve Valdez-Symonds (Amnesty UK), Julian Bild (ATLEU), Sian Pearce (Avon & Bristol Law Centre), Clemence Aymon (RAMFEL), Eve Dickson (Project 17) and Akwaaba, Catherine Theharne-Evans (LB of Hounslow), Katie Fennell (KIND), PRCBC ambassadors, Caz Hattam (Unity Project), PRCBC clients, Solange Valdez-Symonds (PRCBC volunteer director), Dr Bronwen Manby (London School of Economics), Sue Willman (Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors), Lara ten Caten (Liberty), Children Human Rights Network at Amnesty International UK, Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei (Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy) and Ian Hollings (Legal Aid Agency), May Bulman (The Independent), Ronan Toal (Garden Court Chambers).
PRCBC Board of Trustees
18/2/2021 and updated on 22 February 2021
Court of Appeal citizenship fee decision
The Court of Appeal will hand down its judgment in R (PRCBC & O v Secretary of State for the Home Department) on the Home Office fee for children to register as British citizens at 10.30 am on Thursday, 18 February 2021. Further information will be posted here on PRCBC’s website when the judgment is available.
PRCBC Board of Trustees
Court of Appeal citizenship fee case
Last week the Court of Appeal heard the challenge of PRCBC & O to the Home Office £1,012 fee for children to register their right to British citizenship. The decision from the court is now pending. Further information will be posted here on PRCBC’s website when it is available. For now, we must await the decision of the court.
12 October 2020
On Tuesday and Wednesday 6-7 October 2020, the Court of Appeal will hear PRCBC & O’s challenge to the Home Office’s “huge” children’s citizenship fee
The hearing will be live streamed broadcast and accessible from the judiciary’s website here:
The video will also be accessible from the court website after the hearing. The video is only shared with YouTube.
For our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on case:
For our note on the case : note_fees_litigation_sept_2020Download
1 October 2020
PRCBC and Amnesty UK joint Briefings to the Lords
Our joint Briefings to the Lords on the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2019-2021 concerning children, including children in care, can be found here:
28 September 2020 Briefing
July 2020 Briefing
Waiver of Citizenship Ceremony under special circumstances
Our letter to the immigration minister inviting him to urgently consider using existent power under the British Nationality Act 1981 to waive the need for people to attend a citizenship ceremony during the pandemic.
Court of Appeal citizenship fee challenge has been listed for a full hearing on 6-7 October 2020
For more information, see our FAQs4 (August 2020):
For our note on court case:
PRCBC and Amnesty UK joint Briefing to the Lords
Our joint Briefing to the Lords on the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2019-2021 concerning children, including children in care, can be found here:
Court of Appeal grants permission to PRCBC & Ors to appeal in children citizenship fee case
On 12 June 2020, Lord Justice Phillips granted permission to PRCBC to appeal against the decision of the High Court that the Secretary of State’s fee-making powers permit her to charge fees for children to register their statutory rights to British citizenship that are unaffordable or set at above administrative cost. Please find our updated FAQ here:
PDF and word versions:
****PRCBC has moved to its new office ****
We are thrilled to announce that we have moved to our new office at 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP. We are now regulated by OISC at Level 3 and running our children and young persons citizenship casework services independently. The Board is grateful to the following organisations and individuals who have advised and assisted in making this possible:
- Therium Access
- Bates Wells
- Deighton, Pierce and Glynn
- Doughty Street Chambers
- Cardinal Hume Centre
- Work.Life Hammersmith
- London Legal Support Trust
Supreme Court requires PRCBC, O and A to ask the Court of Appeal to consider lawfulness of Home Office children’s citizenship fees
The Supreme Court has today refused permission for PRCBC, O and A to appeal by leapfrog against the decision of the High Court that the Secretary of State’s fee-making powers permit her to charge fees for children to register their statutory rights to British citizenship that are unaffordable or set at above administrative cost.
The High Court had granted PRCBC, O and A, a certificate to apply by leapfrog direct to the Supreme Court because it considered an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal (Williams) had effectively determined the issue but without the advantage of the arguments and evidence presented by PRCBC, particularly without the benefit of the Supreme Court ruling in Unison and arguably wrongly.
The Supreme Court has today decided that the Court of Appeal should first have the opportunity to consider the issue, having regard to Unison; and has made clear that its decision is purely for this reason with no implications as to the strength of the argument.
Accordingly, PRCBC, O and A will be making an application to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
For our updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS):
18 March 2020
PRCBC young people featured in Youth Justice Week 2020 Photography Exhibition
Our young Aminat, Maryan and Linden are featured in this year’s Youth Justice week photography exhibition by the one and only photographer Alice Mutasa.
Date: 24 February- 6 March 2020
Venue: Law Society
PRCBC has been registered as a charity by the Charities Commission
The Board of Trustees is hugely grateful to Bateswell for their pro bono advice and assistance in PRCBC’s application to register as a charity with the Charities Commission. PRCBC registration number is 1187681. For more information: https://beta.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details/?regid=1187681&subid=0
Carol Bohmer, Chair of PRCBC, 31/1/2020
PRCBC High Court challenge on children’s citizenship fee
Video film outside high court, Simon Israel, Channel 4 News: https://www.channel4.com/news/childrens-excessively-high-citizenship-fees-criticised
Good to see Parliament immediately pressing Government on its response to our court case on children’s citizenship fee but sad to see nothing of substance in Ministers’ responses in Commons & Lords: Col 317 (our gratitude to Stuart Mc Donald MP):
We are grateful to Lord Alton for putting children’s citizenship fee first thing on Lords’ agenda on Parliament’s return this year. High time that kids’ rights to British citizenship were treated as priority by Ministers & others:
For PRCBC’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the PRCBC judicial review decision on Home Office fee for children to register as British citizens:
click here for word version with hyperlinks:
Click here for PDF without hyperlinks:
On 19 December 2019, the High Court handed down judgment in PRCBC & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3536 (Admin). The court found that the Secretary of State had failed to assess and give primary consideration to the best interests of children when setting the fee for children to register as British citizens. It, therefore, held that the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/330 (and the previous regulations) were unlawful insofar as these set the citizenship registration fee for children.
The judgment requires the Secretary of State to reconsider the fee having full regard to children’s best interests as a primary consideration in setting it. However, the court has granted the Secretary of State permission to appeal.
PRCBC had also argued that there was no power for the Secretary of State to set the fee at above the cost to the Secretary of State of registering a child’s British citizenship or at a level that was unaffordable to many children entitled to that citizenship. The court ruled that it was bound to reject this argument by reason of an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal (R (Williams) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 98) but granted a certificate under section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1969 for the claimants to apply for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Joint Press release here:
Judgement here: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2019/3536.html
Casenote here: Note_Fees_Litigation_ Oct_ 2019
Briefing on Fees, March 2019 here: Fees_Briefing_Revised_March_2019
Commentary on parliamentary debates on British Nationality Act 1981 here:
PRCBC Board of trustees are grateful to:
- Our beneficiaries (children with citizenship rights)
- PRCBC Legal Team: Our solicitors, Maria Patsalos, Lucy Grant and Lydia Boateng (Mishcon de Reya), Richard Drabble QC (Landmark Chambers) and Miranda Butler (Garden Court Chambers).
- The Legal Team in O: Richard Drabble QC & Admas Habeslasie (Landmark Chambers), Solange Valdez- Symonds, Neelma Iqbal (Consonant) and clerks at Landmark chambers.
- The Legal Team in A: Richard Drabble QC, Jason Pobjoy and Isabel Buchanan (Blackstone Chambers), Solange Valdez- Symonds and Neelma Iqbal (Consonant)
- Campaign Team: i) Amnesty UK Children Human Rights Network ii) Surrey Square School 3) Amnesty UK.
- Amnesty UK media Team: Cora Bauer
- Our Patrons: Baroness Lister and Claude Moraes MEP.
- Our volunteers: Dirghayu Patel (GT Stewart solicitors), Mike Poulter (Turpin Miller solicitors), Amarjit Ahluwalia, Rebecca Hacker) and Steve Valdez-Symonds (Amnesty UK).
- Funder of our legal research on children’s citizenship fee and other work: Strategic Litigation Funding (SLF)/ILPA (Trust For London) and Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF)
- Organisations and individuals who provided statements and other support in this court case: Amanda Weston QC (Garden Court chambers), Ronan Toal (Garden Court), Baroness Lister, Lord Alton, Prof. Helen Stalford (Liverpool University Law Clinic), Prof. Donald Hirsch (Loughborough University), Henry St Clair Miller (No Recourse to Public Funds Network), Fiona Carrick-Davies (Surrey Square Primary School), Steve Valdez-Symonds (Amnesty UK), Julian Bild (ATLEU), Sian Pearce (Avon & Bristol Law Centre), Clemence Aymon (RAMFEL), Eve Dickson (Project 17) and Akwaaba, Catherine Theharne-Evans (LB of Hounslow), Katie Fennell (KIND), PRCBC ambassadors, Caz Hattam (Unity Project), PRCBC clients, Solange Valdez-Symonds (PRCBC volunteer director), Shane Enright (Trade Union adviser, Amnesty UK), Alison Jordan (Amnesty UK production executive), Cora Bauer (media at Amnesty UK), Imran Uppal (Digital at Amnesty UK), Dr Bronwen Manby (London School of Economics), Barbara Muldoon (Children’s Law Centre, Northern Ireland), Sue Willman (Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors), Lara ten Caten (Liberty), Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei (Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy) and Ian Hollings (Legal Aid Agency).
If you wish to make a donation to support PRCBC’s pro bono legal casework for destitute children, please follow this link:
Two blogs from Alicia
Alicia, born in the UK and in her 20s, tells her story from discovering she does not have the citizenship of the country in which she was born and grew up (first blog) to overcoming the shock and many barriers and registering her entitlement to British citizenship (second blog).
Alicia’s first blog: British Born and Bred (April 2019)
Alicia’s second blog: British Born, Bred, and Registered (November 2019)
PRCBC and Amnesty submissions to British Future citizenship inquiry
Extract of joint submission:
“We have found there to be a widespread misunderstanding of this area of law on the part of many people – including many lawyers, policy advocates, campaigners and parliamentarians. That misunderstanding has done and continues to do considerable harm to people born and growing up in this country. That harm is done in several ways. Many people are poorly advised and assisted, or otherwise misled, into losing their citizenship rights. Moreover, the practice of, particularly, the Home Office in introducing and maintaining significant barriers that obstruct and deny the citizenship rights of many people has frequently gone unchallenged. It is even wrongly given support in much advocacy relating to citizenship rights. Parliament has acceded to Home Office legislation establishing barriers to citizenship rights without proper scrutiny of the flawed analysis presented by Ministers in seeking to explain or justify that legislation.
 Government policy – including in setting fees – wrongly treats the right to register as a British citizen as if an aspect of or akin to the discretionary power to naturalise an adult migrant; and this false conflation is repeatedly relied upon in Ministerial statements seeking to justify above-cost fees charged, including to children born in the UK with statutory entitlements to British citizenship. Yet, many advocates and campaigners similarly conflate these distinct provisions giving false credibility to a policy that does considerable harm to many children deprived of their citizenship rights by a fee of £1,012.
 For example, it did so in relation to the introduction of the statutory requirement of good character for registration by the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 as briefly described in our joint submissions to the Joint Committee on Human Rights for its consideration of the British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2019, see: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/human-rights-committee/draft-british-nationality-act-1981-remedial-order-2019/written/102809.pdf
EU Settlement Scheme: Looked-after Children and Care Leavers
Amnesty UK and PRCBC’s joint letter to the Minister following the debate regarding the continued misunderstanding and oversight of children’s rights to British citizenship, and the particular risk to children and young people in the care system arising from the EU settlement scheme.
This is something on which Amnesty and PRCBC have previously written to the Joint Committee on Human Rights and to the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.
R (PRCBC & Ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department
High court case challenging the fee for children’s registration of British citizenship
PRCBC and two other child claimants (O and A) will be in the High Court on 26-28 November 2019 for a full hearing of our challenge to the £1,012 Home Office fee that is charged to children to register as British citizens. The Home Secretary maintains this fee despite himself describing it as “huge”. It effectively deprives many children of their right to British citizenship because they and their parent or carer cannot afford it. This includes children in care, stateless children and children who were born in this country and have lived all their lives here. Updates about this litigation will appear in this section of PRCBC’s website.
Do you have experience of the fee’s impact on children – whether because you have been directly affected or you know through your work of its impact on children? If so, please contact Solange Valdez-Symonds at email@example.com if you would be willing to provide a statement in support of this legal challenge.
- PRCBC is represented pro bono by Maria Patsalos (solicitor and partner at Mishcon de Reya), Richard Drabble QC and Miranda Butler (Garden Court Chambers)
- A is represented by Solange Valdez-Symonds (Solicitor for Consonant), Richard Drabble QC (Landmark Chambers), Jason Pobjoy (Blackstone Chambers) and Isabel Buchanan (Blackstone Chambers).
- O is represented by Solange Valdez-Symonds (Solicitor for Consonant), Richard Drabble QC and Admas Habteslasie
A note on this litigation here:
We are grateful to the Inspector for meeting us and for raising our concerns on children’s citizenship registration in connection with Home Office fees and in connection with the Good character requirement.
ICIBI report on Home Office Fees
Home Office’s Response on Home Office’s Fees
The detailed joint Briefing of PRCBC and Amnesty UK on which the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration draws in today’s fees report regarding children’s rights to British citizenship has been updated. This can be found online here:
4 Apr 2019
Inspection Report Published: Re-inspection of the Home Office’s application of the good character requirement in the case of young persons who apply for registration as British citizens
We are glad that we were able to provide some representations to the Inspector for both of his inspections in connection with children’s citizenship claims and the good character requirement:
For more information including for a copy of our joint briefing, please see here:
4 Apr 2019
Children and young adults of EU nationals born in the UK
“If we learn anything from Windrush it must be that the rights to British citizenship of children, and adults, should be the first priority of all. We cannot let that shameful moment in history repeat itself”
We must avoid a Brexit ‘Windrush’ | Letters
CITIZENSHIP ONLINE APPLICATIONS
10am on 22 March, the Home Office announced by e-mail news alert that all citizenship applications are to be made online from that day. The Home Office has failed to understand that online applications CANNOT be made mandatory in citizenship applications unless the British Nationality (General) Regulations are amended (s41 BNA 1981). PRCBC has sent a joint letter to the Minister requesting her to take urgent steps to comply with the regulations and correct the announcement. Our joint letter to the Minister:
UPDATED LEAFLET for Parents, Children and Carers
“Children and their Rights to British Citizenship “
BRIEFING ON CITIZENSHIP FEES
25 March 2019
SURVEY on CHILDREN’S CITIZENSHIP FEES
Are you or do know of a child with a right to register as a British citizen who cannot afford the Home Office registration fee of £1,012? If you do, please complete our survey:
20 March 2019
On 27 November 2018, the High Court granted permission at an oral hearing for PRCBC to challenge the children’s citizenship registration fee.
The High Court is asked by PRCBC to review whether the £1,012 fee imposed on children to register as British citizens – described by the current Home Secretary as “a huge amount of money” – is lawful. The fee bars many children born in the UK, children who have lived here nearly all their lives and children with settled status from citizenship. The Home Office accepts that only £372 of the fee represents the cost of administering registration. The fee applies to all children including those in local authority care, including children living in poverty, the disabled, and the stateless.
When Parliament passed the British Nationality Act 1981, birth in the UK no longer meant automatic acquisition of British citizenship. Instead the Act provided for those with a “close personal connection” with the UK to acquire citizenship. For example, the Act included an entitlement for children born in the UK to register on reaching 10 years independently of their parents’ status. Parliament recognised that a general discretion for the Home Secretary to register any child as British was also necessary, to ensure citizenship for other children connected to the UK.
The consequences for a child of being unable to register as British are many and potentially severe; and mirror what has recently been exposed as appalling treatment of so many people of the Windrush generation. Without citizenship, a child may be subject to immigration powers, including powers to remove them from the country, or blocked from work, education, health and other services and opportunities available to their British citizen peers. They may also be unable to pass on citizenship to their children meaning the exclusionary impact of the fee extends across generations.
PRCBC in its judicial review, 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 Home Office has conducted no assessment of the impact of the fee upon children.
PRCBC’s position is that no child should be required to pay more than the administrative cost to register as a British citizen; no child in local authority care should be required to pay any fee to register; and waivers should be available to any child who cannot afford any fee to ensure it is not a barrier to a child registering as British.
An Early Day Motion on this fee attracted support from all parties with seats in the House of Commons: https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1262
Amnesty International UK’s children’s human rights network are campaigning in support of PRCBC’s demands and have launched a petition: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/home-office-stop-profiteering-childrens-rights
Joint PRCBC and Amnesty UK Briefing can be found here:
Please see Joint PRCBC and Amnesty UK Briefing here:
Please see also Steve Valdez-Symonds’ very important commentary on 1981 Parliamentary Debates on British Nationality Bill relating to children’s citizenship rights and fees:
Please sign Amnesty UK and PRCBC petition here:
See video clip: Home Office: Stop profiteering from Children’s rights:
25 August 2018
Barbara Harrell-Bond (OBE)
We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our much respected and admirable patron, Barbara Harrell-Bond OBE.
Barbara was a leading figure in the field of refugee studies. She founded the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, the world’s first institution for the study of refugees. It now hosts an annual lecture series in her name.
This extraordinary lady will be hugely missed by all of us.
12 July 2018
PRCBC issues High Court challenge to children’s citizenship registration fee
On 14 June 2018, PRCBC issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court to challenge this fee. 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.
PRCBC would like to thank the following for their support and other work on this important matter: Akwaaba, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Amanda Weston QC, Amnesty International UK, Bronwen Munby, Citizens UK, Claude Moraes MEP, European Network on Statelessness (ENS), Free Movement, Just for Kids Law (JFKL), Kids in Need of Defense UK, LegalVoice, Baroness Lister of Burtersett, the Mayor of London, Migrants Resource Centre (MRC), Mishcon de Reya, Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF), Richard Reynolds, Strategic Legal Fund (SLF), Stuart McDonald MP, Surrey Square Primary School and our Youth Ambassadors, volunteers, trustees and clients.
4 July 2018
Children’s Citizenship Fees:
Debate in the House of Lords and Early Day Motion in the House of Commons
House of Lords
Debate on Immigration and Nationality Fees Regulations 2018 and Children’s citizenship fees on 12 June 2018:
Baroness Lister of Burtersett to move that this House regrets that the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018 include a £39 increase in the fee for registering children entitled to British citizenship, given that only £372 of the proposed £1,012 fee is attributable to administrative costs; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to withdraw the fee increase until they have (1) published a children’s best interests impact assessment of the fee level, and (2) established an independent review of fees for registering children as British citizens, in the light of the report of the Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement (HL Paper 118) (SI 2018/330).
Please see Briefing for Peers_JUNE 2018 FINAL
House of Commons
Early Day motion:
Please ask your MP to sign EDM 1262:
Please see our joint comprehensive Briefing on Fees:
High Court declines to rule on lawfulness of exorbitant fee preventing many children from claiming their right to British citizenship
Yesterday, the High Court declined to rule on the lawfulness of a near £1,000 fee preventing many children registering the British citizenship to which they are legally entitled.
The fee is a barrier to tens of thousands of children from claiming their citizenship.
The court acknowledged, having received substantial evidence, that thousands of children are affected. However, the judge acceded to the Home Office request that the case should not proceed arguing that it had become ‘academic’ for the individual claimant because after being granted permission to bring the case she had been supported by a donation from the public to pay the fee. The Home Office had then registered her as British.
Solange Valdez-Symonds, Director of the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), speaking after the hearing, said:
“This is a body blow to the hopes of children and campaigners that the court would bring to an end the Home Office policy of charging an exorbitant fee – far higher than the actual cost of processing the registration of these children’s citizenship – which prevents many children exercising the right Parliament gave them to be British.
“The prospect that children must continue to rely on the generosity of someone donating the cost of the fee or the hope that they can find a lawyer willing to bring an expensive judicial review challenge is dismal.
“For many neither will be an option, and this scandalously high fee will bar them from the citizenship that is theirs by right leaving them at risk – as was the case for the claimant before these proceedings were brought – of the Home Office seeking to remove them from the country that is their home, where they were born, and where they should be recognised as a citizen.
“Meanwhile, many of these children are also left widely excluded, particularly as they approach adulthood, from such vital things as healthcare, higher educational opportunities and employment.
“PRCBC will not be deterred by this set back. The support, including outside the court, has been hugely encouraging; and I am sure the disappointment of today’s judgment will only be a further spur to action to bring to an end the injustice of this fee and ensure all children entitled to British citizenship can claim it.”
Notes to editors:
- The claimant’s legal team are: Solange Valdez-Symonds, Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (solicitor) and Amanda Weston, Garden Court Chambers (barrister).
- The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) was founded by Solange Valdez-Symonds and Carol Bohmer in 2012, and is the leading organisation in the UK dedicated to securing the rights of children to British citizenship through litigation, advocacy and campaigning.
- Solange Valdez-Symonds is the Children’s Rights Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2017. She is a solicitor with eleven years post-qualification experience.
- Yesterday’s case was brought by permission of the High Court, which accepted that an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal in R (Williams) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 98 concerning previous legislation in respect of fees was distinguishable. The child’s case was funded by the Legal Aid Agency on the basis that it was a matter of public interest, of importance to many children beyond the individual child. She is still considering next steps, including whether to seek permission to appeal against the judgment.
- The fee for a child to register her right to British citizenship is £973. The Home Office asserts that £386 of this constitutes the administrative cost of registration.
- Academic research indicates there are tens of thousands of children in the United Kingdom without, but entitled to, British citizenship. 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.
Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC)
24 November 2017
For Amnesty International UK blog and press release:
High Court refuses to rule on ‘utterly shameful’ £1,000 child citizenship fee, 24/11/2017
How the government profiteers from children needing to register as British citizens, 20/11/2017
Stateless children born in UK and MK judgment
Although the MK judgment has not changed the law in relation to paragraph 3 of Schedule 2, British Nationality Act 1981, it should lead to better Home Office decisions in relation to registration by entitlement under this provision.
This judgment is also a reminder to practitioners to properly evidence rights of registration by entitlement.
You might wish to see the ILPA note on MK and/or LexisNexis note (membership/subscription required):
Note for ILPA (ILPA members only) on a recent High Court judgment of MK v SSHD (evidence and meaning of stateless in relation to registration of British citizenship by entitlement of stateless children born in the UK):
Note for Lexis Nexis (subscription only) on High Court judgment in MK v SSHD:
You might also wish to look at article and blog on this provision:
Stateless children born in the UK:
Blog for ENS on stateless children born in the UK with an entitlement to registration:
PRCBC experience is that Home Office poor decision making may be compounded by cases being poorly evidenced by those seeking to register.
The recent Home Office decision to change all nationality instructions into nationality guidance has meant that the new nationality guidance in relation to registration of British citizenship by entitlement of stateless children is less informative than what used to be chapter 15 of the nationality instructions, but in essence nothing has changed in terms of contents.
*** LEGAL AID LAWYER OF THE YEAR IN THE CHILDREN’S RIGHTS CATEGORY ***
We are honoured that our solicitor/director has been awarded the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2017 in the category of Children’s Rights in recognition of the outstanding work she and her team of volunteers have done for PRCBC.
Photo: Credit to Robert Aberman
Carol Bohmer, Chair of PRCBC
******** Let’s talk Citizenship ********
Anyone under 24 is welcome to come and learn more about citizenship and why it is important – how it can make a difference to future studies and opportunities! You can be part of an action group sharing this knowledge and raising awareness in the community!
While the workshop will not focus on individual legal advice, all discussions will be confidential.
Our Free workshop will take place in central London on Friday 28th July 2017, from 10.30-2.30pm.
Reasonable travel expenses may be covered, and lunch & refreshments will be provided during the workshop.
There is limited capacity, please register via Eventbrite.
If you can’t make it, please do send your friend our invite.
15 June 2017
**** TAKE ACTION ****
Use this Briefing on Fees to ask your Member of Parliament to call on the Government to act on our recommendations:
- The profit element should be removed from children’s registration fee in all cases, including where their right to register continues into adulthood. Children should not be prevented from registering as British simply because they cannot afford it.
- Children who cannot afford the fee should be granted a waiver of the entire fee.
- Where a child is ‘looked after’ by a local authority, there should be a fee exemption. This would prevent the shifting of costs from central to local government.
British Registration Fee increase, 6 April 2017
Government continues to profiteer from young persons right to register as British citizens
The extortionate Home Office application fee to register as a British citizen has increased to £973 for children, £1,163 for young adults and £1,282 for those young persons applying to naturalise.
There is no fee waiver or reduction on a registration application fee for those young persons who cannot afford to pay this very high fee – not even for the many such young persons who have a right to register by entitlement. There is also no fee exemption for those young persons being looked after by the local authority. Yet, it costs the Home Office £386 to process a child’s British citizenship application, which means the Home Office is making a profit of £587 on each application (see Unit Cost Table).
Most children unable to register as British citizens because they can’t afford this extortionate fee are children born in the UK or children who have lived in the UK from a very young age.
For further information about British registration fees, see Briefing 2017.
See also article: “Children are being priced out of their rights”
6 April 2017
“The Local Government Ombudsman has criticised a local authority for not ensuring a child in its care received specialist legal advice and assistance to sort out the child’s right to British citizenship. Having British citizenship has a profound impact on a child’s future and identity. Yet failing to secure a child’s citizenship can lead to that right to citizenship being lost altogether”.
Read our our article for social workers and looked after children here:
Government continues to profiteer from young persons right to register as British citizens
The extortionate Home Office application fee to register as a British citizen is currently at £936 for children, £1,121 for young adults and £1,236 for those young persons applying to naturalise.
There is no fee waiver or reduction on a registration application fee for those young persons who cannot afford to pay this very high fee – not even for the many such young persons who have a right to register by entitlement. There is also no fee exemption for those young persons being looked after by the local authority. Yet, it costs the Home Office £272 to process a child’s British citizenship application, which means the Home Office is making a profit of £664 on each application (see Government impact assessment).
Missing from the Government impact assessment is any assessment relating to young people’s right to register – a right given by Parliament under the British Nationality Act 1981.
Most children unable to register as British citizens because they can’t afford this extortionate fee are children born in the UK or children who have lived in the UK from a very young age.
We are grateful to Baroness Lister and Lord Alton’s powerful speech on the exorbitant Home Office’s application registration fee during the Immigration Bill 2015 debate.
12 August 2016
PRCBC’s Legal Research on “good character” requirement for children’s registration as British citizens
A child applying to register as a British citizen who is aged ten must satisfy the Secretary of State that he is of ‘good character’. This is a mandatory application requirement. There is no legal definition of ‘good character’ and therefore no statutory guidance on its interpretation and how it should be applied. The Secretary of State’s good character guidance for adults’ naturalisation applications is used for children’s registration applications. There is, therefore, no distinction at all on the face of the present policy between the way in which children’s character is assessed and the way in which adults’ character is assessed.
PRCBC is interested in hearing from any young person who has been affected by the good character requirement or anyone working with such persons.
For more information, please see our legal research page:
This is a six month research funded by the Strategic Legal Fund (SLF).
23 May 2016
We are grateful for the amendment to the Immigration Bill 2015 tabled by Baroness Lister.
This particular amendment would mean:
i) a Home Office fee exemption on registration of children as British Citizens who are receiving assistance from the local authority
ii) for any child’s registration as British citizen fee to only include the Home Office cost of processing an application
iii) a fee waiver for a child who cannot afford the registration fee
For Baroness Lister’s amendment, please visit the Bill’s pages on the parliament website:
Thank you to Amnesty International UK for working jointly with us on this tabled amendment. Please see below for more information on the current registration fee.
15 March 2016
Monthly Saturday advice/casework surgery
Our March and April monthly Saturday slots are now full. Thank you to Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors for giving us free office space to run our monthly surgeries and to Asylum Aid for hosting PRCBC.
Immigration Bill 2015
Lord Alton’s tabled amendment
We are grateful for the amendment to the Immigration Bill 2015 tabled by Lord Alton. This particular amendment is intended to highlight the situation of young persons who have been in care and are without any status. Some of these young persons were born in the UK and others have lived here for almost all their lives and could have been registered as British and/or their stay regularised by a grant of leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain.
For Lord Alton’s speech on this probing amendment, please visit parliament website:
See also the letter of response from Lord Bates:
PRCBC and Amnesty International briefing on looked after children with uncertain immigration status
Thank you to Amnesty International UK for working jointly with us on the attached briefing: Citz Regis Amend v.3
Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)
In a complaint made against the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s failure to assist a former looked after child to regularise her stay in the UK, the LGO made the following recommendations:
To improve its practice in future the Council should within three months of the date of this report:
- provide specialist advice and guidance to its social work staff on the different requirements of the immigration rules, as they apply to children seeking asylum and those seeking leave to remain, and on the Council’s duties in this area;
devise an action plan to ensure it gives full and proper consideration to its duties to all its ‘looked after children’ who may be in need of legal advice, to meet its obligations as their corporate parent to safeguard and promote their welfare. In particular to those ‘looked after children’ with complex immigration problems who may need suitable and timely legal advice regarding their immigration status. It should clearly record the reasons if it has refused to arrange legal advice in such cases;
ensure officers record both the questions raised and any legal advice given; and
ensure all of the complaints it has considered at Stage 1 of the statutory Children Act complaints procedure are progressed to Stage 2 if that is the complainant’s wish, as is their right.
A copy of the full LGO report here.
Our response on BIS’s consultation on student loans
We are pleased to have submitted our response to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) consultation on extending support to students with long residence in the UK who don’t have settled status. For a copy of our response:
8 January 2016
PRCBC is in need of FREE office space once a month on a Saturday
We are in need of office space to run our monthly children citizenship advice surgery.
Our main requirement is access to 2-3 interviewing rooms, printing, copying and internet facilities.
If you are able to help, please contact Solange Valdez on 07593 103 706 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monthly Saturday advice surgery on matters relating to children and young person’s registration as British
Our monthly Saturday slots are by appointment only. For more information and a referral form, please contact Solange Valdez by e-mail: email@example.com
*** Our February 2016 Saturday advice surgery is now FULL.
20 January 2016
We are running an e-mail advice service for professionals supporting young persons. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
8 January 2016
Bristol University: Registering Children as British Citizenship- Current laws require overhaul
Briefing 17_Child Citizenship