The Home Office has settled the cases of five teenagers denied citizenship and agreed to review its policy on registration of children. All five were brought to the UK at a young age, and applied for British Citizenship at around 16 years old. Their applications were rejected under the British Nationality Act, section 3(1) which confers upon the Secretary of State a discretion to grant nationality ‘if he thinks fit’.
The five cases were settled prior to the first test case being heard by the High Court scheduled to take place next week. The Home Office has agreed to register the claimants and review its policy with a view to producing a revised policy within three months. According to the legal charity the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), which represented the claimants, the Home Office has confirmed that in the meantime it will not refuse applications for registration by discretion and registration will continue to be granted in circumstances where it normally would have been prior to the review.
The outcome for the claimants marks PRCBC’s second major victory in 2021. In February, the Court of Appeal held that the fee of £1,012 levied by the Home Office on children seeking to register as British citizens was unlawful. The ruling upheld the High Court’s 2019 finding, in which the judge referred to a ‘mass of evidence’ showing that the fee prevented children from registering as citizens, leaving them feeling ‘alienated, excluded, isolated, “second-best”, insecure and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK.’
At the time, chair of PRCBC Carol Bohmer said children are ‘still being excluded – by this fee and by many other barriers, which the Government should be doing all it can to remove. We will continue in our mission to make that happen so no one is in future forced to grow up in the UK suffering the alienation and isolation that is currently the experience of so many young people.’