Home Office fees of £1,000 for children to register as British citizens have been ruled unlawful, the court of appeal has said in a landmark ruling.
The judge said ministers had failed to assess and consider the impact of this fee on children and their rights, adding that for some families it was “difficult to see how the fee could be afforded at all”.
The Home Office currently charges £1,012 for a child to register for citizenship, for a process that costs £372. The department says it uses the remaining £640 profit to cross-subsidise the immigration system.
The Home Office appealed against the High Court’s ruling that the department had failed in its duty to assess the best interests of children and give primary consideration to these interests in setting the fee.
However, the Court of Appeal rejected this appeal on Thursday. The department must now reconsider the fee and ensure that children’s best interests are taken fully into account in doing so.
Responding to the judgement, Carol Bohmer, chair of the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), which brought the case, said she was “delighted” the courts had again held that the “scandalously high” fee was unlawful.
“We will continue in our mission 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,” she said.
Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson, said it was “shameful” that children were being denied their rights by “extortionate” Home Office fees, and called on the government to immediately reduce the fees to no more than the cost of administration.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Citizenship registration fees are charged as part of a wider fees approach designed to reduce the burden on UK taxpayers.
"The Home Office acknowledges the court’s ruling and will review child registration fees in due course.”