Home Office challenged by human rights reports
Parliament’s Human Rights Committee has expressed concerns over tests the Home Office applies to children of foreign nationality.
Children as young as 10 years old who have lived in the UK their whole lives were denied British citizenship on account of the “good character” test conducted by the Home Office.
David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, concluded in a report that 28 applicants including children aged 10-17 were denied British citizenship on account of the ‘good character’ ruling from July 2017 to August 2018.
The concern over how the Home Office conducts these tests arose after the report found that 16 of the applicants had not been convicted of a crime, but had received police cautions. The main concern was the potential lack of differentiation between foreign nationality and cultural links, and also why the Home Office has been unable to justify how the ‘good character’ test has been used to assess children who have lived in the UK their entire life.
The report states: “We are concerned that this policy is preventing children whose only real connection is with the UK from becoming British.”
The committee have urged the Home Office to amend changes in policy and legislation that propagate non-discriminatory assessment of citizenship applicants, as it paves the way for potentially successful legal challenges.
In addition to criticising the methods of assessing foreign nationals, the committee have also challenged the fees bestowed upon the individuals who are applying for their citizenship, reporting the high costs can reach up to four figures. As a result of the high fees, there were concerns this would limit the opportunity for people to utilise their civil rights by excluding a margin of people from “more vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds”.
The Home Office has addressed the issues, and said that “we are making changes to the legislation to ensure a consistent approach to the application of good character requirement.”