Hundreds of families in our member institutions – and thousands of others across the country - struggle to secure British citizenship for their children even though many of them were born or raised in the UK and often know no other country than Britain.
Our vision is to break down the barriers to children accessing their legal entitlement to citizenship, to turn children into citizens.
As a first step, we are calling on the Home Office to reduce the the £1012 application fee that prices many children out of their right to British Citizenship.
Watch this BBC London report to learn more:
What we're asking for
We are calling on the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP to reduce the barriers children face in becoming British Citizens by:
- Reducing the cost of British Citizenship applications for children to cost price (£372)
- Waiving the fee for families that can't afford it
- Waiving the fee for children in care
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.
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.
Moreover, 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.
What have we done so far?
- 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.
- 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 and Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes 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.
- 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 creating 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 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 Citizens UK joined a partnership of organisations to hire a Project Manager for a payment plan programme to ensure that parents don't get into problematic debt when paying for child citizenship fees.
- 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
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 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 our organiser Paulina at Paulina.Tamborrelsignoret@citizensuk.org
You can also email your MP using our tool here