Tuesday June 18, 2019, London
BRIGHTON MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle backed calls for the UK government to end the practice of making millions of pounds in profit from the citizenship applications of children.
At an event in parliament Monday 17 June, Russell-Moyle hosted the International Observatory of Human Rights who are campaigning on the issue.
The UK charges the highest fees of any major economy in Europe, contributing to an estimated profit of £2m per month. Under-18s forced to pay £1,012 just to apply plus £19.20 to provide biometric information and £80 to attend a citizenship ceremony.
If the application is refused, applicants are not refunded. If children want to re-apply for citizenship, they must pay the fee again.
But the cost of processing the application is just £372, meaning the Home Office makes £640 profit per child application.
By comparison, the cost of application in the UK is five times the European average, twenty times that of Germany. In Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium and France, it is free to obtain the citizenship.
At the event, attended by children and parents whose families have been plunged into debt due to the cost of the applications, IOHR director Valerie Peay, led a panel discussion on what practical steps can be taken to lobby the government on this issue.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP said: “I have asked the Labour frontbench to consider putting in place restrictions that won’t allow profits to be made when it comes to these sorts of application processes.
“This forms part of a wider issue of how we treat immigrants and refugees and that’s why Refugee Week is so important and this campaign.
“Everyone should agree that £1,000 is far too high a cost to ask children to pay, especially when these are people who are already at a financial disadvantage.
“It can’t be right that we profit from children who want to secure their future here more than we do from visas for tourists on short stays, for example.”
IOHR Director Valerie Peay said: “Let’s be clear. Unlike any other EU country, the UK government is choosing to profit £640 on every child who is entitled to apply for British citizenship.
“This action puts huge pressure on families. It can impact a child’s right to education support, the right to vote, freedom to travel and cause psychological damage when they find out they are not the same as their classmates.
“At IOHR we have done a lot of work to support Syrian refugees. By next year, those who came through the vulnerable persons relocation scheme in 2014 will be eligible to apply for British citizenship. It can’t be right that a family with 3 kids will be expected to pay out £5448 to try and secure a safe future, with nothing guaranteed at the end of the process.
“Rather than driving families into debt to make a profit, we are calling on the UK government to stop this practice and join the rest of the EU in their approach to humanitarian support.”
The International Observatory of Human Rights was established in 2017 in London as an independent non-profit and non-governmental organisation.
The team is made up of human rights professionals, lawyers, researchers, award-winning journalists and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.
IOHR utilises its unique access and the expertise of its multilingual and dedicated staff to advocate for human rights worldwide.
The International Observatory of Human Rights has created partnerships with local and international human rights groups.
The IOHR advocacy team meets with governments, members of parliament and global groups such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and businesses to drive and promote positive changes and push for justice and the respect of human rights worldwide.