Home Office error deprives children of their British passports
As reported recently by the BBC, Immigration solicitors in London have recently learned that over 1,000 children entitled to British passports have had their applications for renewal refused – because of a Home Office error. Although the Home Office has set up what it describes as a ‘support function’ to identify those potentially affected, and to resolve any British Citizenship issues, this has left many affected – EU citizens – feeling like second class citizens, and not welcome in the UK. Since the Brexit vote, this is something that many of the top Immigration solicitors in London are hearing from many of the EU citizens they work with.
Home Office failure leads to rejection of passport renewal applications
This particular situation dates back almost 10 years. Children of EU citizens born in the UK are automatically born a British citizen if one or other of the parents has residency when the child is born. For EU citizens, obtaining permanent residency is a fairly straightforward process which can be completed after 5 years living in the UK. As British citizens, these children are then entitled to British passports.
In these cases, passports were initially granted to the children concerned. However, officials failed to check that the appropriate documentation was in place at the time. Many EU citizens from the ‘A8’ group of countries which joined the EU in 2004, including Poland and Czech Republic, have found that when it has come for these passports to be renewed, the Home Office has then asked for sight of those documents confirming residency – most commonly the Workers Registration Scheme certificate. In the absence of that documentation, the renewal application has been refused. However, for many, it has been impossible to locate the paperwork - and the Workers Registration Scheme is no longer in existence.
Nothing learned from Windrush
It seems that the UK government has failed to learn from the Windrush scandal that paperwork is not always available to evidence a right to be in the UK. Those affected have rightly reported as feeling unwelcome in the UK, as having been treated as second class citizens. In one reported case, the parent was able to produce the relevant documentation but still had the passport renewal application refused for his child – effectively denying him his British Citizenship. Against the climate of Brexit, this kind of error by the Home Office only adds to the feeling of unease that EU citizens in the UK are feeling.
If you or a family member are experiencing problems renewing a British passport and you would like to discuss the matter in confidence, please do get in touch by calling 0203 959 9123. OTS Solicitors are recommended in the Legal 500 for Immigration matters and we are experienced British Citizenship lawyers. We will advise you on your situation and help you take the next steps to resolve your issue.