Legislative Scrutiny: Nationality and Borders Bill (Part 1) – Nationality Contents

3Fees

25.It is well known that fees, and especially large fees, can discourage—and indeed exclude—certain categories of people from accessing their nationality entitlements.35 The Committee has previously raised concerns in relation to the unfairness of charging a fee for rectifying previous discrimination:

People who have been refused British nationality because of discrimination should not have to pay an application fee a second time to reapply once that discrimination is removed. We recommend that the Home Office take steps to ensure that those previously discriminated against do not have to pay the application fee when reapplying under section 4F.36

26.In previous Parliaments the Committee has also raised concerns that significant fees could exclude children from more vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds from accessing their right to British nationality:

Home Office fees for children who have a right to be British should be proportionate to the service being offered and should be priced at a rate that is accessible for children accessing their rights. This is not the case at the moment since fees for children are three times more than the cost of the service—four-figure fees merely to register an existing right to be British are unacceptable. Disproportionately high fees should not exclude children from more vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds from accessing their rights.37

27.We are aware that fees in the nationality context tend to be covered in Regulations and not the BNA itself. However, we think it important that the Home Office should not charge a fee for applications under this Part of the Bill from people seeking to rectify historical discrimination.38

28.The Home Office must make clear whether or not any fees will be charged for an application under Part 1 of the NBB and, in particular, clauses 1, 2, 3 or 7. We urge the Home Secretary not to charge a fee for applications under this Part of the Bill as it would be wrong to charge people for rectifying historical discrimination against them. If any fees are charged, they must be set at affordable rates that do not effectively prevent certain categories of people, especially children, from accessing their right to nationality.

35 See, for example, British Overseas Territories Citizenship Campaign (NBB0014); Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium (NBB0026); and Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens and Amnesty International (NBB0039), which express concerns about fees for those previously subject to discrimination and about the impact of excessive fees more generally.

36 See Joint Committee on Human Rights, Fifth Report of Session 2017–19, Proposal for a draft British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2018, HC 926 / HL Paper 146, para 61 – 64, and in particular the recommendation at paragraph 64. See also, Joint Committee on Human Rights, Twentieth Report of Session 2017–19, Good Character Requirements: Draft British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2019 - Second Report, HC 1943 / HL Paper 397, para 39–43, and in particular the recommendations at para 40: “In our First Report we recommended that people who had been refused British nationality because of discrimination should not have to pay an application fee a second time to reapply once that discrimination was removed. The Committee welcomes the decision taken by the Immigration Minister to amend the Fees Regulations at the next opportunity to ensure that people previously discriminated against do not have to pay an application fee a second time. The Committee looks forward to receiving an update on progress to address this issue.”

37 See Joint Committee on Human Rights, Fifth Report of Session 2017–19, Proposal for a draft British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2018, HC 926 / HL Paper 146, para 39–43, and in particular para 43

38 A similar approach of not charging a fee is taken with regard to applications under section 4C BNA in relation to unmarried fathers




Published: 9 November 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement