“Becoming a British citizen is a significant life event… British citizenship gives you the opportunity to participate more fully in the life of your local community.”
Home Office Citizenship Guidance
Alison – a former KIND UK client
“I was trafficked into the UK when I was in my early 20s. I was told I was coming to continue my education, but that was a lie. I eventually escaped from the people who trafficked me. Later, I was involved with a man who became abusive to me. I have 3 children who were born in the UK, and we had to live in a refuge for victims of domestic violence for a long time when they were very young. I now have leave to remain, and my children are British citizens. I work for a charity, I pay taxes, and Britain is my children’s home and the only country they know. This Bill will be truly awful for people like me and my children – even though I was brought here against my will and my children were born here. It breaks my heart to think that someone in the same situation would have no hope of building a life for their children in Britain.”
KIND UK (Kids in Need of Defense UK) assists children in the UK with immigration and citizenship matters on a pro bono basis. We partner with 27 corporate law firms to deliver free legal advice and representation.
This briefing focuses on Clauses 30-36 of the Bill (as amended) relating to British citizenship and the serious risks of harm to children posed by these Clauses, in conjunction with other provisions of the Bill.
We join the Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza in emphasising that the Bill must not undermine children’s rights as set out in the Children Act 1989 (England) and in her concern that there has been no proper Child Rights Impact Assessment.
KIND UK frequently assists children who have grown up in the UK and only become aware they are not British citizens towards the end of school when issues of university and work arise. Many such children currently have pathways to British citizenship under the British Nationality Act (BNA) 1981 (see full briefing for detail).
Under the Illegal Migration Bill in its current form, many would instead face removal to countries to which they have no connection.
For others, the Bill shuts down existing pathways to citizenship, risking a generation of children born and raised in the UK and/or with strong British connections with no route to regularise their status or acquire citizenship. This would condemn many children and families in the UK to a lifetime of instability and poverty.
Lady Hale has commented that the “intrinsic importance of citizenship” should never be played down. British citizenship enables a person to live and work in the UK permanently, to vote, to hold public office, to participate fully in British life in a way that no other type of status allows. For many children, the possibilities of British citizenship will be forever lost under these proposals.
Clauses 30-36 should be removed from the Bill.
For more information, please contact:
+44 (0) 7950 387 130
KIND UK (Kids in Need of Defense UK) provides free legal help to children, young people and families as they navigate the UK’s immigration and nationality procedures.
In the last year, we partnered with 27 corporate law firms, 3 in-house legal departments and 662 lawyers across the country to ensure the best quality legal advice and representation. In total, we had 781 cases active across the year.
KIND UK is a collaboration between five award-winning, UK based organisations that specialise in children’s immigration, asylum, and citizenship law: Central England Law Centre, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, JustRight Scotland, and the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit at Islington Law Centre.
We partner with KIND, a US charity supporting legal representation for children facing deportation proceedings alone.
KIND UK is hosted by Central England Law Centre, a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England and Wales under number 4149673 and registered as a Charity number 1087312 Registered office Oakwood House, St Patricks Road, Coventry CV1 2HL