The BBC reports on official figures, obtained through FOI requests, that show the Home Office made more than £800 million from nationality services over the last six years. Campaigners decry the current fees as “scandalous.”
Under particular scrutiny are registration fees. Registration is the process where someone who has an existing right to British citizenship – for example, through residency, parentage, or birth – but does not currently hold citizenship, applies to obtain it. As the BBC notes, registration for citizenship is often mandatory for young person born in migrant households. If they do not register, and do not otherwise gain settled status, they risk being subject to immigration controls, despite having grown up British.
Yet the fees that young people and families face for registration are high, and have been rising since 2011. The cost of registering two children has more than tripled due to fee increases and the abolition of second child discounts. Registrations cost the Home Office £264 to complete, despite applicants being charged £936 in the 2016-17 financial year.
The BBC quotes Solange Valdez-Symonds, director of the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens: “For the Home Office to be exploiting [registration] to make vast sums of money to spend on its immigration responsibilities is nothing short of a scandal and an especially terrible injustice to those children who cannot afford the Home Office’s fees.”