Free Nationality Applications for Minors

Things are finally looking up for minors and young UK residents who wish to obtain permanent residence or even acquire British nationality.

A concession announced last October by the Home Office allows 18-25 year olds to apply for permanent residence after five years of legal residence in the country instead of having to wait ten years. Following this concession came a change to the immigration rules that will allow minors born in this country who have been resident in the UK for at least seven years to apply for permant residence directly instead of applying for a visa for two and a half years as is currently the case.

These changes, together with the Home Office’s recent announcement on the exemption of citizenship fees for minors, could indicate a new tendency of the government to be fairer to those minors or young people who, through no fault of their own, arrived in the UK and became undocumented, as well as to stop making the acquisition of British citizenship by minors conditional on having money.

The next few months will be vital to determine whether in practice these changes actually benefit a number of young people and minors or whether they are merely decorative changes that in practice only help a few.

Next we will discuss the announcement made by the government regarding the waiver of fees on applications for nationality for minors.

This new concession applies to families who cannot afford to pay the fees (£1012) related to their child’s British citizenship.
The applicant and parents are deemed to be unable to pay the fees when they do not have sufficient financial resources to pay the fees (“no money”) or if they do have the money it cannot be used for this purpose as doing so would mean that the child’s essential needs such as housing and food, among others, would no longer be met.

In order for Home Office officials to carry out this assessment, applicants must submit details and evidence of their financial situation and especially that of their parents. Among the evidence that is recommended to be submitted are bank statements for the last 6 months, payslips and tenancy agreements.

The onus is on the applicant and his/her parents to provide clear and convincing evidence and to justify those expenses which in the opinion of the Home Office are considered non-essential, such as expenses related to travel, purchase of “luxury” goods, sending money abroad, etc.

The decision to grant or reject the application for exemption from payment of nationality fees for minors is at the discretion of the Ministry of Interior and this decision is not subject to appeal.

Undoubtedly this change represents a significant step forward as in theory it removes the obstacle of having to have £1012 (current fee) for a minor to acquire British nationality.

Manuel Padilla Behar is a solicitor specialising in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here: manuel@mpbsolicitors.co.uk

First published in Spanish in Express News

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