The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of using immigrant children as “cash cows” by charging them large amounts of money for citizenship.
The independent chief inspector of borders and immigration is investigating unusually high sums that youngsters born to immigrant parents in the UK or brought to the country as babies are required to pay in order to attend college or go on school trips, The Independent reported Monday.
Today, the Home Office requires immigrant children to pay £1,102 ($1,454 for citizenship while the administrative cost is just £372 ($491).
To obtain a so-called ‘leave to remain’ application, which grants two-and-a-half years of UK status for adults and children alike, the immigrants are required to pay £1,033 ($1,363) per person plus an immigration health surcharge of £500 ($660).
According to the report, most immigrant parents are unable to afford to pay fees of more than £1,000 ($1,320).
This trend is driving adults who have lived in the UK for years into destitution and illegality in order to renew their status. This is specifically worrying about immigrant women as some of them are being forced into prostitution to raise the funds to reapply.
The steep rise in costs despite the actual costs being much lower means that the Home Office is generating considerable income. All application fees are non-refundable so are not returned if the application fails.
The UK, unlike most European countries, does not recognize as British citizens children born to parents who are not formally settled in the country at the time of their birth.
Even when the Home Office finally agrees to consider a child citizenship application, it has to be satisfied that children aged over 10 are of “good character.”
Amnesty UK has set up a petition, calling on May’s government to remove all elements of the citizenship fees that exceed the actual administrative costs.
“This sort of exclusionary policy jeopardizes a child’s start in life, and the futures of these children are slowly and silently being chipped away,” said Steve Valdez-Symonds.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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