IAN BLACKFORD:MP for Ross, Skye & Lochaber

‘NEW WINDRUSH’ GENERATION AS CHILDREN FACE ‘CITIZEN TAX’

The SNP has called on Theresa May to take urgent action for tens of thousands of undocumented children in the UK who face a ‘citizen tax.’ 

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ian Blackford raised concerns about the tens of thousands of children – some who have been born in the UK and others who have spent the majority of their lives here – who face major barriers when making efforts to regularise their status, including increasing citizenship and immigration fees.

The letter follows a question to Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Questions, when the SNP Westminster Leader called on the Prime Minister to scrap the fees for young people who face losing their ‘lawfully resident’ status because they simply can’t afford the paperwork.

Ian Blackford MP said the UK government’s “hostile environment” policy towards these children will result in a new Windrush generation – and the Home Office should not be making profit out of children who are exercising their rights. 

The SNP Westminster Leader said Home Office fees have increased by 148% since 2014, targeting people who have the right to be here and call the UK home.

In the letter, Mr Blackford says that for lawful, long-term young migrants, the cost of maintaining ‘lawfully resident’ status has increased by 148% between 2014 and 2017. Each application for limited leave based on long residence costs over £1,000, and on top of this they are required to pay a £500 NHS surcharge, which is due to double to £1,000 later this year.

Furthermore, the application for permission to stay for long term young migrants is only valid for 2.5 years. Each young person subject to these fees will have had to make four applications for Limited Leave to Remain, and then they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. At that stage these individuals will have already paid over £10,000 in fees to the Home Office before they can obtain settled status.  

Mr Blackford has met with some young people affected, and the campaign Just for Kids Law.

He has requested a meeting with the Prime Minister to work to resolve the injustice. 

Commenting, Ian Blackford MP said:

“This government is guilty of creating a generation of undocumented citizens, without the rights that many of us take for granted. 

“We are talking about young people who live here, who have to wait ten years and pay up to £10,000 to achieve permanent right to remain.

“Most will not have access to legal advice for the complicated paperwork, and the fees are extortionate. 

“Many of these children will not be aware of the need to register until they are required to prove their citizenship but can’t. They then find themselves excluded from being able to work, study, rent private accommodation and apply for social security.  

“When I raised this issue at Prime Minister’s Questions, it was clear the Prime Minister had no grasp of the issue – that’s just not good enough.

“With the Government’s plans to introduce changes to fees and procedures in response to the Windrush cases, there is now an opportunity to also review and change these charges for children’s citizenship and residential applications at the same time.

“The Prime Minister must change her policies which target innocent young people, and I seek to meet with her to resolve this injustice.” 

ENDS