Global Britons

This report from UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute looks at a fairer pathway to British citizenship.

There is widespread public support for long-term British residents to become citizens. Citizenship is seen as part of successful integration into British society. However, Windrush migrants, armed forces veterans, residual British nationals and other long-term United Kingdom (UK) residents are all victims of immigration and nationality requirements and fees that are inflexible, over-prescriptive and extortionate. Excessively rigid physical residence requirements, which have no bearing on whether or not an applicant settled in the UK is suitable for citizenship, and which cannot be waived, are the biggest reason for the rejection of citizenship applications. Immigration and nationality fees, first introduced in 2003, have gone up at a rate of almost 20% per annum, or over 15-fold. The application fees—totalling up to nearly £15,000 for a family of four—can be as much as ten times the Home Office’s processing costs. Residual classes of British nationals—namely, British Overseas citizens (BOCs), British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)s), British subjects, and British protected persons—continue to be treated as second-class citizens and denied the automatic right to live in the UK. This treatment violates basic precepts of international law and degrades the concept of British nationality, leaving some British nationals who gave up or lost their non-UK citizenships after 2002 to be effectively stateless and stuck in limbo in the UK. British nationality law is in need of a comprehensive overhaul. There are also reforms that can be carried out immediately to facilitate the acquisition of citizenship by those who are already part of our nation. If the Government wants to fulfil the United Kingdom’s historic duties and better facilitate integration, they should: Make physical residence requirements for citizenship simpler and more flexible—nationality law should not duplicate pre-settlement residence tests that can be adequately addressed in the Immigration Rules; Reduce immigration and nationality fees, including abolishing fees for armed forces veterans, NHS key workers, residual British nationals and children; and Provide British citizenship to all residual classes of British nationals, who should be privileged over foreign nationals in all pathways to British citizenship.

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