Applying for citizenship
What are the benefits of getting citizenship?
Getting British citizenship is not just about getting a passport or wanting to travel. There are many more reasons why it is very likely to be a good idea for a child living here to obtain British citizenship if possible.
Citizenship is the most secure position for a child. If a person has British citizenship, they are not subject to immigration control. They do not need leave to enter or remain in the UK. They have what is called the ‘right of abode’, which means that they are free to come into, live in and leave the UK as they please. They can apply for a passport and travel in the knowledge that they will be able to return to the UK. They will enjoy the protection of the state, including protection from British embassies abroad. British citizenship also brings with it the benefits of being a citizen of the European Union.
Citizenship is permanent and can only in very rare cases by revoked. By contrast, if someone has indefinite leave to remain (i.e. is settled) and they are convicted of a criminal offence, it is likely that the Home Office will consider revoking their leave and deporting them.
Obtaining British citizenship creates stability for the child, which is important for the child’s development and wellbeing. It may also be important for the child’s sense of their own identity. They may identify strongly as British.
Gaining citizenship means formally gaining equal rights in common with other citizens and opens up opportunities that someone would not otherwise have. Obtaining British citizenship can be important for progression in education including to university, facilitating access to student finance and designation as a ‘home’ student. Without British citizenship young people are unable to pursue certain career paths, including joining the armed forces, civil service or the police. Citizenship is also important for children and young people’s political participation. Unless they are citizens, they cannot generally vote.
Being a British citizen also enables the person to more easily transmit British citizenship to any children they have.
Should you talk to your child about their citizenship?
Talking about citizenship can be very stressful, particularly if you think that your children might be undocumented. Some routes to citizenship are determined by a child’s age – and at 18 years or over it can be much harder for young people to apply for citizenship. So whether you want to speak to your child or not, it will likely make things much easier for them if you are able to apply on their behalf. If you do choose to speak to them you might find these tips helpful:
Try to be calm, factual, and clear. You could use the advice and tools on this site to understand what the options are and help explain them to your child – you could even use them online together. Try to present the information clearly and calmly as your child may well be scared and need reassurance.
Try to work out the next steps. You might be able to use this site or other services in order to work out the next steps, this could help you and your child feel that you are in control. If you think your child can apply for citizenship you can try to gather the right documents (link) and find a reliable solicitor (link) who can help you.
Offer support if a child is worried or upset. The news may come as a shock to children, they maybe worried or upset and not realise that this can be stressful for their parents too. If you can stay calm and reassure them they are more likely to feel reassured and relax.
Home Office application fee
The Home Office charges £1012 for an application to register a child as a British citizen.
As well as the application fee, there may be legal fees if you get a private lawyer to prepare and submit the application. No legal aid is available for nationality applications. If you get a private lawyer, you should make sure that they are from a reputable firm and you may want to agree a fixed fee in advance. If you cannot afford to pay for a private lawyer, some charities and law centres will represent children in citizenship applications without charging legal fees. If a charity takes on the case, you will still have to pay the application fee.
If you cannot afford the application fee, you might be able to work together with a local centre to contact local organisations like churches or charities to help meet the costs. Be careful if you are trying to find funds from other sources. Loan sharks charge high rates and could involve you in criminal activity – which could affect your citizenship application. If you are concerned about the fees please contact a local centre to discuss your concerns and see if there might be any support available.
Services offered by this website
Path to Papers aims to raise the awareness of citizenship status of undocumented youth in the UK. We then connect people with reliable legal services who can help you submit applications for young people who were born in the UK, have lived here for 10+ years continuously and are aged 10-18.