HUGE PROFIT FOR GOVERNMENT FROM CHILDREN’S VISA FEES

The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has published his inspection of the Home Office’s policies and practices relating to charging and fees, together with the Government response.

Citizens UK has revealed through an FOI request that the Home Office is making £2 million a month profit from charging children for citizenship, with around 40,000 children estimated to be affected. Together with the Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants, Coram, Let us Learn and others they have published a letter calling on the Home Office to stop profiteering from children’s immigration and citizenship applications.

This situation is completely unacceptable to Liberal Democrats and they are taking what action they can in all directions

It was agreed as Lib Dem policy last year that that we would “Significantly reduce and align the fees for naturalisation with the cost of processing applications” and specifically proposes “that the cost of nationality registration for children is limited to that which covers the administrative costs of processing the application”. Note that the actual cost is £372 per child.

Also in the Lib Dem “Ten demands for the Immigration Bill”: https://www.libdems.org.uk/ten-lib-dem-demands-for-the-immigration-bill includes “Cutting citizenship fees for children” and we’re keeping an eye on the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) current judicial review – when there’s a judgment on that we’ll have a good opportunity to raise it in Parliament.

Tim Farron and Kate Green are putting an amendment to the Immigration Bill that would establish a bespoke pathway to citizenship for EU citizens who get Settled Status, with fees “commensurate to the cost of administering an individual application” – so this would ensure that EU children already living here aren’t forced to pay the high fees.

On a linked issue, Ed Davey has a Private Members’ Bill on the specific issue of fees for Indefinite Leave to Remain for Armed Forces personnel & their families.  There are several thousand Foreign and Commonwealth nationals serving in our Armed Forces. Under the Immigration Rules, those who have served for four years or more are entitled to apply for indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK upon discharge, and to sponsor applications for their partners and children. However in recent years the fees for these applications have been increased, by successive governments, to exorbitant levels: they now stand at £2,389 per person, despite the unit cost to the Home Office of processing an application being just £243. This means that the cost of applying for a family of four is £9,556. Veterans and their families often therefore face a choice between: leaving the country, remaining here undocumented or taking out big loans to pay the fees.

Ed Davey and Jamie Stone have also tabled an Early Day Motion on the issue: https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52668/foreign-and-commonwealth-forces-personnel

In addition, Ed Davey raised it at Home Office Questions on Monday: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-04-01/debates/9A562887-5EF2-4FE4-AFB5-11EF72C1DB09/TopicalQuestions#contribution-32BBBCA4-6AAF-444C-A7D9-741ED7AE0968

Whilst the Government is fixated on maintaining a hostile environment, Liberal Democrats are continuing to stand up for, and fight for, the rights of children living in the UK to become citizens, and play a full part in our British way of life, and take up the education opportunities offered to all children.