It is not news that the Home Office's fees can become challenging for foreign nationals who are looking to regularize their stay and/or obtain British Citizenship. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom bases its immigration law & rules on a 'hostile environment', and by increasing visa & citizenship application fees on a regular basis, it is clear that the Home Office strongly stands by this principle. But how about application fees for children? Yes, they also remain unbelievably high.
More often than not, a child born in the United Kingdom may enjoy citizenship rights. However, thousands of children have seen these rights becoming notably reduced by the high citizenship-registration fees. Indeed, as of the currently valid fees list published by the UK Visa and Immigration Department [31 January 2021], children eligible for British Citizenship by registration are required to pay a £1012 fee, whereas the costs of administrative procedures are only £372. Luckily, on 18 February 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of the High Court that such cost of registration is unlawful and against the welfare of children.
The case in question is 'Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) and O (a child)'. In December 2019, the High Court Judge in PRCBC & O ruled that setting registration fees so high contradicts the principle of preserving the children's best interest. Indeed, many children are left feeling “alienated, second-best and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK”.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, the solicitor instructed by the respondent to the judgment 'O', & the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Director reported to Amnesty International UK:
“When making the law on British citizenship, Parliament made clear that citizenship was the right of all children who grow up in this country.
“That thousands of children – including many children born in this country – must formally register that right is being used and abused by the Home Office to raise funds, and this must end.”
Concerns are being raised by multiple organizations, and this can only be for the best in preserving the rights of children in immigration, and ensuring that they hold the same opportunity to the recognition of citizenships rights. The Immigration Department of Home Office reported that changes to the fee list will take place to ease the process for future applications.