Politics

MPs want Home Office to scrap 'extortionate' £1,000 child citizenship fees

The Home Office currently makes £640 profit for every child that registers for British citizenship.

An amendment to the government's Borders Bill is being tabled by Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy. Image: Parliament

MPs want the Home Office to scrap “extortionate” fees for children registering as British citizens.

Children are currently charged £1,012 to become a British citizen – even though the process only costs the Home Office £372.

Despite the fees having been found to be unlawful by the court of appeal, they are still in place.

A new amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill would force the the Home Office to reduce the fees to no more than the process costs.

Children born in the UK, but whose parents were not British citizens or settled in the UK, have the right to register as British citizens if they meet certain conditions – but are subject to registration fees for doing so.

The amendment has been tabled by Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and backed by over 30 MPs including Caroline Lucas, Nadia Whittome, John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, and Zarah Sultana.

Ribeiro-Addy told The Big Issue that children who had been born in this country are being met with the fees when they try to get jobs, apply to university, or travel abroad.

“Boris was not born in this country. My parents weren’t born in this country. I was born in this country. Somehow we all managed to be British without extortionate costs,” she said.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is also supporting the amendment, told The Big Issue: “The cost of British citizenship for a child has risen from £35 in 1983 to £1012 in 2020, almost doubling in the last decade. Profiteering from children’s rights is quite simply wrong.

“Instead of criminalising children and people who try to get to a place of safety, the government should show decency and humanity. And the UK should fulfil our international obligations, including under the 1951 Refugee Convention.”

The amendment would also abolish the fees for children in care, and force Priti Patel to put a report before parliament which explains the impact of the fees on children’s human rights.

The fees have a huge impact on children in care, said Ribeiro-Addy: “They expect the local authority to pay pay the bill which local authorities often can’t or won’t.

“This means children who for some reason don’t have contact with their parents find themselves deported back to a country when they’re in their early 20s that they’ve never been to.”

In 2019, the High Court ruled the fees were unlawful, leading the Home Office to appeal. The court of appeal rejected the appeal in February this year, and told the Home Office to reconsider the fees.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government has noted the amendment relating to fees for children registering as British citizens which will be debated in Parliament in due course.”

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