NEWS AND UPDATES

 

Westminster Hall Debate on Children’s Citizenship fees on 4 September 2018

Please see Joint PRCBC and Amnesty UK Briefing here:

Briefing_Westminster_Debate_children citizenship fee

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:

Commentary_ Hansard BNA 1981 _registration_Aug 2018

Please sign Amnesty UK and PRCBC petition here:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/home-office-stop-profiteering-childrens-rights

See video clip: Home Office: Stop profiteering from Children’s rights:

 

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25 August 2018

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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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Harrell-Bond

12 July 2018

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PRCBC issues High Court challenge to children’s citizenship registration fee

The High Court has been 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 huge fee bars 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.

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.

The challenge

When Parliament passed the British Nationality Act 1981, birth in the UK no longer meant automatic entitlement to 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 so 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 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 has 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

If you have information to provide in support or are aware of a child unable to register by reason of the fee, please contact Lucy Grant of Mishcon de Reya at: PRCBC@mishcon.com

Media enquiries – Cora.bauer@amnesty.org.uk

ExternalAffairsTeam@mishcon.com 

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.

Solange Valdez-Symonds

PRCBC Director

Solange.valdez-symonds@migrants.org.uk

4 July 2018

PRCBC-Announcement

 

 

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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).

http://lordsbusiness.parliament.uk/ItemOfBusiness?itemOfBusinessId=47813&sectionId=38&businessPaperDate=2018-06-12

Please see Briefing for Peers_JUNE 2018 FINAL

 

House of Commons 

Early Day motion: 

That this House believes that tens of thousands of children born and living in the UK and entitled to register as British citizens under the British Nationality Act 1981 are nevertheless undocumented and therefore unable to access public services, social security, private rented accommodation, the labour market and many other benefits of citizenship; further believes that some will simply be unaware of the requirement to register and many others will not have the means to afford the fee of over £1,000 charged by the Home Office; notes that the estimated cost of processing such applications is only £372; believes that no child should be prevented from taking up their entitlement to British citizenship simply because of cost; calls for the fee for applications to be reduced to no higher than the cost of processing, for exemptions for children in local authority care, and for fee waivers for children who cannot afford to pay any fee at all; and further calls for steps to be taken to raise awareness of the need to register the right of these children to British nationality.

Please ask your MP to sign EDM 1262:

https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1262

Please see Briefing on fees_Parliamentarians_26 April_2018

Please see our joint comprehensive Briefing on Fees:

Fees_Briefing_revised_June_2018

 

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High Court declines to rule on lawfulness of exorbitant fee preventing many children from claiming their right to British citizenship

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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.

IMG_20171126_124822

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 [2017] 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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)2

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

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/high-court-refuses-rule-utterly-shameful-ps1000-child-citizenship-fee

How the government profiteers from children needing to register as British citizens, 20/11/2017

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/yes-minister-it-human-rights-issue/uk-government-profits-children-citizenship

 

IMG_20171126_124440

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Stateless children born in UK and MK judgment 

Although 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 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 entitlement application of sta­teless children born in the UK):

http://www.ilpa.org.­uk/login.php?redirec­t=%2Fresource%2F3335­9%2Fcasenote-on-r-on­-the-application-of-­mk-a-child-by-her-li­tigation-friend-cae-­v-secretary-of-state­-for%3Faction%3Dreso­urce%26id%3D33359%26­action%3Dresource%26­id%3D33359&status=-4

Note for Lexis Nexis (subscription only) on high court judgme­nt of MK v SSHD:

https://www.lexisnex­is.com/uk/lexispsl/i­mmigration/document/­412012/5NWJ-78G1-DYW­7-W1T7-00000-00/Stat­elessness_and_the_re­gistration_of_Britis­h_citizenship__R__on­_the_application_of_­MK__v_SSHD_

You might also wish to look at article and blog on this prov­ision:

Stateless children born in the UK:

http://www.legalvoic­e.org.uk/no-state-to­-be-in/

Blog for ENS on stat­eless children born in the UK with an en­titlement to registration:

http://www.statelessness.eu/blog/barriers-citizenship-facing-stateless-children-born-uk

PRCBC experience is that Home Office poor decision making may be compounded by cases poorly eviden­ced by those seeking to register.

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.

August 2017

 

*** 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

July 2017

PRCBC_logo_for_printYouth Workshop

******** 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: 

  1. 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.
  2. Children who cannot afford the fee should be granted a waiver of the entire fee.
  3. 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.

April 2017

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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”

http://www.legalvoice.org.uk/children-priced-rights/

6 April 2017

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“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:

SocialWorkArticle_April 2017

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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

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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 adult’s 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:

https://prcbc.wordpress.com/research/

This is a six month research funded by the Strategic Legal Fund (SLF).

23 May 2016

                               

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We are grateful for the amendment to the Immigration Bill 2015 tabled by Baroness Lister.

This particular amendment  intended for there to be

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 parliament UK weblink:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2015-2016/0096/amend/su096-II-a.htm

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

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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 a free office space to run our monthly surgeries and to Asylum Aid for hosting PRCBC.

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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 UK weblink:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldhansrd/text/160203-0002.htm#16020378000171

See also letter of response from Lord Bates:

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2016-0127/Lord_Rosser_letter_re_Lords_Committee_for_Immigration_Bill__3_Feb__.pdf

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

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.

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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:

PRCBC%20response%20to%20consultation%208.1.16

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/student-support-for-non-uk-nationals-who-have-lived-in-the-uk-for-a-long-time

8 January 2016

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PRCBC is in need of a 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: prcbc2013@aol.com

Thank you

January 2016

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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: prcbc2013@aol.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 prcbc2013@aol.com 

8 January  2016

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Bristol University: Registering Children as British Citizenship- Current laws require overhaul
Briefing 17_Child Citizenship

November 2015

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