Earlier this month the Home Office announced updated requirements which anyone hoping to successfully apply for British citizenship must meet.

The Good Character requirement was already part of the criteria which the Home Office used to assess citizenship applications. It is one of the more complex requirements which can catch people out, as it assesses an applicant’s character based on everything from cautions to prison sentences, and bankruptcy to cash-in-hand working.

What many people would be surprised to learn however is that the requirement even extends to children from the age of 10.

Children born in the UK to parents who were not legally “settled” at the time of their birth do not acquire British citizenship automatically, but must apply and pay a fee which is currently £1012.

If a child has had involvement with the police, for example, a youth caution, a fine, or a custodial sentence, their application to register as British may be refused, and the application fee will not be refunded. If a child has a criminal investigation against them outstanding they are likely to have their application decision delayed until the outcome is known.

When a child cannot meet the good character requirement they will not be able to become British and will not be able to obtain a British passport – even though the child may have lived their whole life in the UK and identify themselves as being British.

There has been mounting pressure on the Home Office from organisations including Amnesty International and the Project for Registration of Children as British Citizens to abolish this requirement for children and additionally to scrap the application fee.

The updated Home Office guidance issued this month offers more information on how a child’s application will be assessed. Unfortunately, the Home Office has missed the opportunity to open up the possibility of citizenship to children with a criminal record or whose parents cannot afford to pay the application fee.

If you are thinking of registering your child as a British citizen and would like to check if they will meet the Home Office requirements, please contact us on 0191 232 9547 or email immigration.enquiries@davidgray.co.uk.