Today (18/02/2021) the Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s previous ruling that the £1012 fee the Home Office charges in order to register a child as a British Citizen is unlawful. The basis of this ruling is that the cost is prohibitively high, does not reflect the actual administrative costs, and results in alienation and ‘othering’ of children with a right to citizenship who are unable to access this due to financial limitations. The actual process of registering a child costs the Home Office £372 and the Home Office claims to use the remaining £640 profit they make to cross-subsidise other parts of the immigration system.
It is difficult to see why it should fall to children and their families to subsidise other aspects of the immigration system and the judge today pointed out that the system failed to consider the impact of this on the children in question’s rights, pointing out that for many families, particularly those with multiple children, it was “difficult to see how the fee could be afforded at all”.
The original judgment was made by a High Court judge in December 2019. The judge ruled that the fee was unlawful on the basis of substantial evidence that there were many children who were unable to register for citizenship as a result of the prohibitively high fee. This made them feel “alienated, second best and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK”.
The ruling indicated that the department had failed to take into consideration the best interests of these children or give primary consideration to those interests when considering the level at which to set the fee. The Home Office appealed unsuccessfully against this ruling, and must now reconsider the fee, taking into account the best interests of the children as they do so.
It has not yet been announced what the new fee might be, or how the Home Office will respond to this ruling, but it is likely this will lead to a reduction in fees for children applying to register as British citizens, so watch this space for further news.
If you would like to find out more about your child’s eligibility for British citizenship, or any other UK immigration matter, we can help. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or send us an email at [email protected] for a consultation with one of our experts.