Legal Research on Good Character requirement

PRCBC, Amnesty UK and Runnymede updated briefing on good character requirement in children’s citizenship claims (based on PRCBC research funded by SLF):

briefing_good character_updated 17 jan 2019

Joint note by Runnymede, PRCBC and Amnesty UK on good character requirement as it applies to children’s British citizenship rights:

Joint_Summary on Good character requirement in children’s citizenship rights

For commentary on debates on the British Nationality Act 1981:

Commentary_ Hansard BNA 1981 _registration_Aug 2018

Further material relating to the application of the good character requirement to children and young people:

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:

Children_Good-Character_ICIBI (1)

Minister’s reply to PRCBC:

Response_ICIBI_ good character and children

Legal Voice article ‘Good character’ requirement on children’s registration as British citizens’: character-provisions/

Commentary on British Nationality Bill 1981 parliamentary debates relating to citizenship fees, August 2018 (written by Steve Valdez-Symonds):

Commentary_ Hansard BNA 1981 _registration_Aug 2018

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:



Good Character Research funded by SLF

The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), which is hosted by Migrant Resource Centre (MRC), 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 – good character RT for public

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 become British citizens and to feel they fully belong to the society in which they live. The good character requirement applies to all registration applications by children aged 10 and over except those who are recognized as stateless and are applying to register under provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981 relating to statelessness. The ‘good character’ requirement for children is applied in exactly the same way as it is to adults seeking naturalisation under the discretion provisions or registration by entitlement. Since the introduction of the good character requirement, it is estimated that over 400 children have been refused citizenship for this reason.

We are interested in hearing from any young person who has been affected by the good character requirement or anyone working with such persons. To get in touch or for more information, please contact Solange Valdez-Symonds, e-mail:

Thank you



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:

illegitimacy_good character letter

For copy of Minister’s reply received in February 2018:

Reply_FEb 2018 illegitimacy good character letter

For joint letter of PRCBC and Amnesty UK sent to the Minister in connection with remedial order and temporary arrangements pending Remedial Order:

illegitimacy-good character temp prov

Minister’s response to request for temporary provisions pending Remedial Order, August 2018:

letter from HO re BNA (Remedial) Order-08082018120921

Solange Valdez-Symonds

Solicitor and PRCBC Director

April 2018


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