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 Since the issue was discovered around 100 passports have been revoked, and the investigation is ongoing to reveal the extent of the problem.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.

17 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.

(19)(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.

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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.

(17)(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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Migrant from EU

Dear All, I’m one of the affected Families. First of all – we did not get free house – I worked very hard to buy one, went to sacrifice a lot during renting period to save for the deposit. So putting the tag is not fair. Again do not blaim people using system – create such system that they can’t get free house. Second thing the case here is about passports and British citizenship for children – they can’t apply for a house or benefits them selves.

So going back to the proper matter:
– point one we have went over the verification process 5 years ago, all documents ware checked, all as required at that time. All was fine, we have as well provided much more documents then just required, one of those ware WRS forms. Guess what – no one registers the documents provided – just that they are checked.
– second thing there is no information available during application for renewal – nothing in the guide book, nothing on the online application, nothing on the website. No one mentioned anything on the phone as well as I have called and asked twice – are there any additional documents required apart what is in the e-mail confirmation.
– no one can clearly explain at the passport office what is happening just that those documents have to be checked as per HMRC requirement. Guess what – WRS forms are issued by this institution so I assume there is magnificent system storing those documents – so again should be quiet easy to do to check on those documents. And share the information with passport office.
– another thing I’m in UK since 2005, to apply for British passport I need to prove that I have legally worked for 6 years from the day of application backwards not from the beginning of human kind, so for me if we reviewing this period of time – I do not need to show WRS form as I need this only up to 2009, after that was not required legally any more as per British government.
– another point to raise that Passport office was unable to answer is – that should be directed towards parents not a child. So if parents can have passport – British one – so why there is only problem with child renewal passport but not parents?
-extra point and fair to do – if that is know to the government institution there is an issue – why it was not openly communicated and people that are affected are not requested to provide missing documents to update the system – so everyone is legally (as this is challenged now) in possession of document.

I could continue with this but there is not point as not official was able to respond to any of the questions as they are not entirely sure them selves?

Bottom line of this is:

System doesn’t exist, documents are not stored, information in not shared between government arms when this is required, left hand doesn’t now what right one is doing, and they do opposite things – great job.
There is no communication or publications to allow free access to information for people affected to check what is actually happening.
No one takes responsibility – but this document is very important one and should be very well protected and such issues should never take place.
We are going to challenge this in court – as I felt as being mistreated and on purpose delayed my passport application base don ethnicity. We have as well reached to EU court to find is there any breaches in the right to work in UK linked to this situation. There is as well free will of the officers reviewing the cases as our friends used London office and everything went fine – no one asked them for WRS – they are same amount of time in UK as we, their child is same age. They have same legal status as we, same nationality. Just different reviewing passport office.

If someone has some extra information to put light on this would be great. for those who do not like idea about migrants in this country and wish they go away – I tel you one thing. Your country, British company has reached to me in Poland at my Uni and offered me a job as there was no one in Uk to do it. Reason I agreed was it is part of EU and guarantees to have free movement to visit my Family in PL other wise will be in USA or Canada. hen Brexit happens I will review my decision and if my movement will be affected I’m out over the ocean – and you can replace me with who ever you want. And there is more like us.

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