Giving out passports ‘like confetti’: The European children unlawfully granted British citizenship by the Home Office

Government is consulting with lawyers to see if their citizenship can be revoked

Lead12

It was recently revealed UK citizenship has been given to the children of eastern Europeans living in Britain without the correct paperwork. Since the issue was discovered around 100 passports have been revoked, and the investigation is ongoing to reveal the extent of the problem.

What we do know is the problem has affected families from Poland and the Czech Republic. Both of these countries joined the European Union in 2004, and these children were eligible for British citizenship and a British passport from 2009 onwards, if their parents could prove they had been working legally in the UK for five consecutive years.

It has now come to light that, in some cases, officials failed to request documentation to prove this. The mistake was discovered when the parents applied to renew their children’s passports, which are only valid for five years. Theresa May, who assumed the position of Home Secretary in 2010, only discovered the mistakes when The Guardian raised the issue with the Home Office. It is also thought that civil servants knew about the failings for much longer as there was an increase in passport renewal requests in November 2015, which would have highlighted the initial errors.


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The children were granted citizenship and British passports through a rule that states any child is eligible for citizenship if one or both parent claims British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain.

In 2004, when Poland and the Czech Republic joined the EU, citizens from these countries were allowed to live and work in the UK freely, provided they registered with the Worker Registration Scheme, so the government could keep track of how many people were moving to the UK. After five years of continuous settlement in the UK, their children should be eligible for British citizenship and a British passport provided the parent can provide their Worker Registration Scheme documents in order to prove they have been in the UK for five years.

Although the rest of their documentation was in place, some weren’t asked to provide their Worker Registration Scheme documents when they initially applied for a passport. It was only when renewing the passport five years later that they were asked to provide the documentation. Around 100 passports were initially revoked when parents couldn’t provide the necessary documentation. This marks a first in UK legal history, as civil servants are now consulting with lawyers to see if their British citizenship can be revoked.

Barbara Drozdowicz, director of the Eastern European Advice Centre, has described it as a “real shock” and “betrayal” of the eastern European community.

She added:

It will impact on the sense of belonging of hundreds of thousands of people living in the UK in the eastern European community.

Conversely, Labour MP Frank Field — who is known for his strong views on controlling immigration — criticised the Home Office for handing out British passports “like confetti”. He said:

The government therefore needs to inform voters what lessons it has learned from this error, and how will they be applied to the many thousands of children about to arrive in our country from Europe — both as citizens and as refugees.

Roman Winter is an aspiring freelance writer who is interested in law and politics.

Want to write for the Legal Cheek Journal? Find out more here.

16 Comments

Anonymous

Omg, people like you are such bellends. Does it really enhance your life to make fun of what university someone went to? Will it improve your life in any way? Will you earn any more money, or get a hotter girlfriend, or a bigger penis (assuming you’re a guy)? You come across as a massive try hard loser. No one cares, mutton head.

And before you say I’m butthurt, I went to Cambridge.

(18)(5)
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Anonymous

Got rejected by LSE and UCL? Poor thing , I hope you still get to enjoy all those student loans that you won’t repay until retirement.

(5)(0)
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Just Anonymous

This story should make us livid.

I don’t know whether it would be legal to strip these individuals of their British citizenship. However, regardless of the legalities, I think it would be profoundly wrong to do so. If individuals have applied for and received British citizenship in good faith and built up family lives here, it would be grotesque to disrupt those family units now, especially given that the children themselves are morally innocent.

So my anger is directed solely against the Home Office. At best, the relevant officials are grossly incompetent. At worst, they’re infected by an insidious philosophy which says (wrongly) that we’re morally obliged to let in everyone and anyone who wants to come, and rules and regulations on immigration are thus there only to be ignored. Either way, heads should roll.

(15)(6)
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Sarah

One of the better ‘Journal’ articles I’ve read on this site. Short, punchy, well researched, well written.

That this has occurred is shameful. There must be some control over our borders.

(9)(2)
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Anonymous

You can take your British passports away, as they are worthless. Any child whose parents are from one of the countries in the EU can have an EU passport and be granted a permanent right to reside in the UK. One will be able to travel free throughout Europe and also enjoy same rights as any other British citizen would.

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Barking and Dagenham resident

No you won’t get a free house if you move to Poland or Romania ….more disturbingly – you can have a criminal record from Poland and Romania and it’s STILL no bar to entry to the UK – that would be a “fetter on the free movement of people”….. there are well publicised examples of people who have been “let down” (to put it lightly) by this totally insane policy: Alice Gross / Jeshma Raithatha / even more tragically, Nishma Raithatha.

However, if you are a non EU migrant applying under the points system and have a criminal record – you (entirely correctly) have your application rejected….. and you also have to prove you have a job and won’t sponge off the state… no criminal record and a job seems like reasonable requirements.

We have an unfair, unethical, 2 tier immigration system….. people who come here to work fairly and squarely and others who take advantage of an ill thought out system…

(3)(2)
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Katmandu

It’s illegal to take away citizenship unless it’s a matter of national security. Also fault is not applicants but home office itself. You can legally chalange this decision in court.
Regarding houses did u apply for one?
It took us 8 years to get one.

(1)(2)
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Lord Lyle of Rhetoric

I would be most grateful if LC removes the invective chavs.

Why do you allow uneducated people in here? It’s appalling.

(2)(3)
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Anonymous

They’re not chavs, though it’s true that their English is generally very poor and they show all the signs of mental retardation.

They’re solicitors.

(1)(0)
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