Sadiq Khan: Government must act to avoid second Windrush-style scandal

14 May 2018
  • Teenagers ‘left in limbo’ – unable to access education or employment – due to £1000-plus citizenship application fees

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today called on Government to act quickly and waive the unacceptably high £1000-plus fees for the many children and young people who have lived all or most of their lives in the UK, but currently do not officially have British citizenship.

 

Many of these young people, who have lived here as long as they can remember, only discover they do not have secure status when they apply for post-18 education, and the vast majority are unable to continue with their education and realise their ambitions to contribute to society.

 

Without secure status, young people are unable to afford university education, unable to access student loans, and unable to access employment. Universities will class them as international students, charging them tens of thousands of pounds for their education, without being able to access student loans.

 

Instead, they find themselves in limbo – unable to navigate an extremely costly, protracted and hostile process, which sees the Government taking significant profit from their application for leave to remain in the UK. They may also find themselves subject to the Government’s ‘hostile environment’, unable to rent a home, hold a bank account, drive, or freely access essential health services, placing further barriers in their path to prove their right to be here.

 

Most of the young people involved came to the UK with their parents, or were born in the UK to parents who migrated here and have secure status to remain in Britain.

 

In 2007, it was estimated that there were more than 159,000 Londoners aged 24 and younger in this position1. The Mayor is commissioning his own research to understand the scale of the problem for today’s young Londoners as due to the tightening of routes to regularisation and increases in fees over the past ten years, there may now be significantly more young people in the capital facing these issues.

 

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ““The recent Windrush scandal has shone a light on an immigration system that is simply unfit for purpose.

 

“Since I became Mayor two years ago, I have repeatedly called on the Government to address the issue of young people who lack secure immigration status.

 

“These young Londoners have lived most, if not all, of their lives in this country. Many were born here, all of them went to school here and have lived their lives as British citizens. The Government should be ashamed that, after working hard at school for years, many of them find they cannot continue their education and fulfil their career ambitions and dreams.

 

“The Government charges huge fees to these young people, so they can get secure status. They profit on their circumstances, despite the amazing contribution they make to our city and our country.

 

“These young people are the doctors, the teachers, the scientists, the politicians and the businessmen and women of tomorrow. They should have bright futures ahead of them, but instead they are faced with red tape and unacceptably high fees.

 

“The Government must act now to avoid a second Windrush-style scandal. They need to remove the so-called “hostile environment”, streamline the application process so young people’s lives are not needlessly interrupted and waive the astronomically high fees they charge to confirm something we already know to be true – that they are British citizens, that they are Londoners.”

 

Routes to regularising status for these long-term residents are long and complex. Acquiring citizenship has also become more expensive. The cost of applying for the right documentation is at least ten times higher than many countries in Europe. 

 

As of 6 April 2018, it costs £1012 for a child to register as a British citizen and £1,330 for an adult to naturalise as a British citizen. Much of this fee is profit: £372 of the citizenship fee for children is the cost of administration and £640 is profit to the Home Office. Those who were not born in the UK, but were brought to London as young children, face additional immigration fees of £8521 over a ten-year period. The number of Londoners gaining British citizenship has halved – from four per cent of non-nationals in 2009 to two per cent as of 20162.

 

Since becoming Mayor, Sadiq has repeatedly advocating for young Londoners to have a shorter, more affordable route to citizenship.

 

Last year, Sadiq launched a citizenship initiative with Trust for London, Unbound Philanthropy, and other independent funders, which fund secondments from civil society to City Hall to help to shape his plans to enable people to access their legal rights to residence and citizenship.

 

Chrisann Jarrett, founder of the ‘Let us Learn’ campaign is currently working at City Hall as a secondee. Chrisann was born in Jamaica and brought to the UK when she was eight years old. Initially unable to take up her place at university due to her immigration status, she won a full scholarship to study Law at LSE. In 2014, Chrisann founded Let Us Learn to raise awareness of the issue and to assist the many young people who are still ‘young, gifted and blocked’.

 

Chrisann Jarrett, founder of the ‘Let Us Learn’ campaign, said: “Having grown up in the UK and consider this country their home many young people are shocked at the sudden realisation that they have unsettled status. After which they have to navigate a very difficult immigration system. The spiralling costs of home office fees leave many priced out of getting status. The government should recognise how unreasonable these fees are and ensure that children and young people have a shorter less costly route to citizenship”

 

Neil Jameson, Executive Director, Citizens UK said: “Schools, Universities and our members are telling us that bright young people who have lived here most of their lives and are as British as you or I are being shut out of education because of sky high fees. It is a huge own goal to deprive young people with bright futures education when now more than ever Britain needs to extend a hand of welcome.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

 

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Information for the media is available from Christopher Calvert at [email protected], or call 020 7983 4066.

GENERAL PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000