Children’s rights to British citizenship blocked by good character requirement

What is the Issue?

Children as young as 10, born in the UK and brought to the UK at a young age, are blocked from affirming their rights to British citizenship because the Home Office considers them not to be of good character.

Who are the Children Affected?

The children affected are: born and grown up in the UK, but not born with British citizenship because at the time of their birth neither of their parents was British or settled in the UK (i.e. had indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence); or brought to the UK at a young age and grown up here.

Anecdotal evidence from lawyers dealing with the registration of British children together with the experience of the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) suggests that black and minority ethnic children, and children in care, are significantly more likely to be affected by the good character requirement.

What is the Good Character Requirement?

There is no statutory definition of good character, which is left to the Home Secretary to assess. The requirement is applied to children born and growing up in the UK in the same way as it is applied to adults seeking to naturalise after migrating to the UK. It is used to prevent children registering rights to British citizenship even where they have had only minimal contact with the criminal justice system, such as receiving a caution.

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