The Home Office has been accused of using UK-born children of immigrants as “cash cows” by charging extortionate sums for them to obtain citizenship.
Youngsters who were born in Britain or came here as babies are being prevented from going on school trips and attending college because their parents cannot afford to pay fees of more than £1,000.
Meanwhile, adults who have lived in the UK for years are being driven into destitution and illegality in order to renew their status, with some women forced into prostitution to raise the funds to reapply.
The accusation comes as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration launches an inquiry into the charges, issuing a call for evidence to look at the rationale for the fees.
The cost of applying for British citizenship for a child is £1,102, despite the administrative cost being just £372. A ‘leave to remain’ application for an adult or child, which grants two-and-a-half years of UK status, costs £1,033 per person, with an immigration health surcharge of £500 on top of this.
These costs have risen steeply in recent years despite the actual cost of processing applications being significantly lower, meaning the Home Office is generating considerable income. All application fees are non-refundable so are not returned if the application fails.