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Children into Citizens

"£1,012 just to be British. I thought I already was British" Daniel, Surrey Square Primary School and Southwark Citizens


Hundreds of children in our member institutions – and thousands of others across the country – are priced out of their entitlement to British Citizenship by the £1,012 fee.

Children have to pay this fee despite being born and/or raised here and even though they call the UK home

Our vision is to break down the barriers to children accessing their legal entitlement to citizenship, to turn #ChildrenIntoCitizens.

As a first step, we are calling on the Home Office to reduce the £1,012 application fee that prices many children out of their entitlement to British Citizenship.

What we're asking for

We are calling on the Home Secretary Priti Patel to reduce the barriers children face in becoming British Citizens by:

  1. Reducing the cost of British Citizenship applications for children to cost price (£372)
  2. Waiving the fee for families that can't afford it
  3. Waiving the fee for children in care
Watch this BBC London report from Surrey Square Primary School to learn more

The impact 

Costing £1012 per child, the huge fee blocks many children from accessing their right to British Citizenship. The fee is this high despite the fact that it only costs the Home Office £372 to process the applications. The Home Office is charging children £640 above cost price to be British.

Without Citizenship, most children will have to pay international fees at university and will be unable to take out student loans effectively blocking them from university. It will also bar them from being able to vote and participate in public life and the dignity of being recognised as a citizen in the country that call home.

Even if families can find the money they are often forced into debt, which causes families, like Bernice and her two children, a great deal of stress.

Channel 4 report on high citizenship fees for children in the UK

Our Research

Our research shows that the UK charges 10 times more than many EU countries, such as Belgium, Spain and France. You can read our full report here.

Our research also found that nearly 900 stateless children are forced to pay the £1,012 fee in 2018.

On 9 June 2021, in partnership students from the Institute of Education at UCL, launched our report The Price of Belonging - which reveals the UK Government has made £102,749,216 profit from child citizenship fees from 2017 to 2020. You can read the full report here.

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Young leaders performing poems about the campaign outside the Home Office, 2018

What has been done so far?

2017

  • In our listening campaign in 2017 the issue of the cost of child citizenship applications was raised as a priority
  • We took action before Christmas 2017. 200 people gathered outside the Home Office to sing carols about citizenship and hand a Christmas card to Home Secretary Amber Rudd. We got a reply from the immigration minister Brandon Lewis saying that due to the benefits of Citizenship the price is worth it and he wasn’t willing to meet with us.

2018

  • During the local elections we got a series of local authorities to write to the Home Office about the issue
  • We coordinated a letter from 100 education leaders to the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP and Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP about the impact of high fees
  • Students from Surrey Square School were featured on The One Show talking about child citizenship fees
  • Parent Power leader Bernice and her family spoke to Channel 4 about her experience of borrowing money for her children’s citizenship
  • We took action on International Poetry Day (4th October 2018) with 140 children performing poems about citizenship and presenting an anthology to the minister. On the back of the action and the letter we got a meeting with the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP.
  • On November 29th 2018 1,500 people gathered at St George's Cathedral in Elephant and Castle to put the campaign to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who promised to personally prioritise the campaign.

2019

  • In March 2019, on Commonwealth Day, 40 children of commonwealth heritage took over a committee room in parliament to call on MPs to reduce the fee.
  • In April 2019 we announced that we are creation of the Citizenship Payment Plan in collaboration with King's College London and EdAid to provide parents with the finance to apply for citizenship for their children without having to fall into expensive and risky debt.
  • In April 2019, The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders published a report with a series of recommendations including extending the fee waiver system to citizenship applications for children. Read our reaction statement here
  • We worked with other organisations to coordinate a letter calling on the Home Secretary to "to take a positive step by ending the practice of profiteering from immigration and citizenship applications."
  • In May 2019 we published a freedom of information request revealing that nearly 900 stateless children pay the citizenship application fee every year
  • In June 2019 we took action outside the Department of Education calling for the Children's Minister Nadhim Zahawi to support the campaign.
  • In August 2019 the campaign was featured in The Times on Home Office fees (£)
  • The Times profiled our leaders Bernice, Jonas, and Krishmary
  • The Times also published a letter on the campaign from King's College London's Anne-Marie Canning and Jimmy Pickering
  • As part of the General Election in 2019, Citizens UK alliances raised the issue with the candidates to be MP in their constituencies

2020

  • In December 2020, British Future published their Inquiry into Citizenship chaired by Alberto Costa MP
  • To coincide with the British Future inquiry, we supported one of our young leaders, Kafilat and her daughter Ismat to speak to Sky News about their experience with fees
  • In December 2020, the High Court ruled that the £1012 child citizenship fee was unlawful after a legal challenge by PRCBC

2021

  • In February 2021, Bell Ribeiro-Addy the MP for Streatham asked a question about the fees at Prime Minister’s Questions. The Prime Minister said he was ‘interested’ and would ‘study’ the issue. You can see the full exchange here (from 26 minutes)
  • Later in February 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling that the £1012 fee is unlawful.
Young leaders sharing their story and presenting the campaign to MPs in Parliament

What else are we doing?

As an interim measure until we win the campaign, we are working with King’s College London and EdAid to develop the Citizenship Payment Plan, an interest-free payment plan to enable families to pay for citizenship applications without getting into debt.

We are also working with our partners Coram Children's Legal Centre in two primary schools to support them to engage parents and create best practice for schools in supporting children to gain citizenship.

How can I get involved?

To get involved email james.asfa@citizensuk.org

Kafilat and her daughter Ismat speaking to Sky News about the impact of fees