Our Good Character research was completed in February 2020, we are grateful to all those individuals and organisations who provided their support with this research and with our work on good character more broadly. We are particularly grateful to the following:
- Strategic Legal Fund (SLF) for funding this research
- Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights programme director, Amnesty International UK
- Admas Habteslasie (Landmark chambers)
- Richard Drabble QC (Landmark chambers) for his legal opinion on our second research completed in February 2020.
- Prof Kathryn Hollingsworth, Newcastle University
- Aamna Mohdin (The Guardian)
- Anna Collinson (BBC news, Victoria Derbyshire)
- Zubaida Haque, Runnymede Trust
- Ronan Toal (Garden Court) for his opinion on our first research completed in February 2019
PRCBC is currently working on cases in connection with the good character requirement with a view to bringing challenges in the High Court if necessary. PRCBC has been in discussion with the Home Office concerning practice and policy in relation to young people’s citizenship rights and the good character requirement; and remains open to further dialogue.
Short briefings on the good character requirement in relation to children’s registration as British citizens:
Further material relating to the application of the good character requirement to children and young people:
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has expressly questioned the propriety of this requirement. For example, in its November 2021 report on the nationality provisions of the Nationality and Borders Bill 2021-2022, the Committee stated: “…we also share the concerns raised by the JCHR in 2019 about the appropriateness of the good character requirements being applied to children, particularly children whose main or only real connection may be with the UK. It is difficult to align this requirement with the obligation to have the best interests of the child as a primary consideration.“
The Guardian article, “Revised UK child citizenship character test ‘still poor'”, 14/1/2019:
BBC Two, “More than 500 children have been refused British citizenship due to their contact with the criminal justice system from the age of 10, campaigners’ figures since 2006 suggest”:
Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) call for evidence: A re-inspection of the Home Office’s application of the good character requirement, September 2018:
Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) report: A short 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:
The Home Office response to the Independent Chief Inspector’s report: ‘A Short 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’:
PRCBC’s letter to Immigration Minister:
Minister’s reply to PRCBC:
Legal Voice article ‘Good Character’ requirement on children’s registration as British citizens’:
Commentary on British Nationality Bill 1981 parliamentary debates relating to citizenship fees, August 2018 (written by Steve Valdez-Symonds):
House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Engagement report: “The Ties that Bind: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in the 21st Century” (see chapter 9 of report on fees, good character requirement recommendation):
Guardian article: Children as young as 10 denied UK citizenship for failing ‘good character’ test:
Guardian article, MPs urged to scrap child citizenship character test:
Legal Opinion on Children’s Citizenship registration and the “Good character requirement’ Ronan Toal, February 2019
The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), is pleased to make available an opinion provided by Ronan Toal, barrister at Garden Court Chambers on the requirement that children and young people registering their right to British citizenship be of “good character”
ICIBI’s re-inspection report on the Good character requirement in children’s citizenship registration, April 2019
We are grateful to the Inspector for meeting us and for raising our concerns on children’s citizenship registration and the ‘Good character’ requirement.
Home Office’s Response on ICIBI re-inspection: Good character requirement in children’s registration, published in April 2019
PRCBC and Amnesty UK updated briefing on good character requirement in children’s citizenship claims (based on PRCBC research funded by SLF):
Joint updated note by PRCBC and Amnesty UK on good character requirement as it applies to children’s British citizenship rights:
For commentary on debates on the British Nationality Act 1981:
Good Character Research funded by SLF
The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), is pleased to make available an opinion provided by Ronan Toal, barrister at Garden Court Chambers on the requirement that children and young people registering their right to British citizenship be of “good character”.
Legal Opinion on Children’s Citizenship registration and the “Good character requirement’ here, Ronan Toal:
PRCBC’s experience has shown this requirement presents a significant and growing obstacle to some of the most vulnerable young people and prevents them obtaining a safe and settled future for themselves. The opinion is based on our research funded by the Strategic Legal Fund (SLF).
Registration of children as British citizens is vital to enable children who have a strong connection to the UK, who are born in the UK without British citizenship or who come to the UK at an early age and grow up here, to feel they fully belong to the society in which they live and to which they are clearly connected. The good character requirement applies to all registration applications by children aged 10 and over except applications made by children who are recognized as stateless and are applying to register under provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981 relating to statelessness; or applications made by children under provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981 intended to correct historical injustice by which children did not automatically acquire citizenship at birth merely because, at that time, their natural father was not married to their mother. The ‘good character’ requirement for children is applied in exactly the same way as it is to adults, including adults seeking naturalisation under the discretion provision and adults applying for registration by entitlement. Since the introduction of the good character requirement, it is estimated that hundreds children have been refused citizenship for this reason.
PRCBC has drawn Parliament’s attention to the impact of the good character requirement on several occasions by briefings for debates and submissions to Committee inquiries. For example, in November 2022, PRCBC (jointly with Amnesty International UK) provided the following submission to the Public Accounts Committee for its inquiry into Support for vulnerable adolescents:
Remedial Order: Persons born out of wedlock and the “Good Character” requirement including persons born to British women outside the UK before 1 January 1983
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has examined the Government proposal on the British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2018 before both Houses of Parliament. PRCBC and Amnesty International UK made a joint submission. For more information, please see:
For basic understanding on children born out of wedlock and the ‘good character’ requirement, see LegalVoice article:
For copy of PRCBC’s letter to the Minister, 8 January 2018:
For copy of Minister’s reply received in February 2018:
For joint letter of PRCBC and Amnesty UK sent to the Minister in connection with remedial order and temporary arrangements pending Remedial Order:
Minister’s response to request for temporary provisions pending Remedial Order, August 2018:
Solicitor and PRCBC Director
Systemic obstacles in the registration of children as British Citizens
This legal research was funded by the Strategic Legal Fund for Vulnerable Young Migrants (SLF). The research looked at the following three key issues:
First Issue: the mandatory registration application fee, and absence of fee waivers for those children who are unable to afford this
Second Issue: the current Secretary of State’s policy guidance on registration of children under the discretionary powers given to under s3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 i.e. Chapter 9 of the Nationality Instructions
Third Issue: the lack of adequate reasons given by the Secretary of State in relation to refusal of applications under her discretionary powers.
PRCBC note on presentation at workshop on “Children and Citizenship” organised by Bristol University, 4 December 2015, Paul Hamlyn Foundation