09 OCT 2014
FI v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2287 (Admin); (2014) PLLR 091
Queen’s Bench Division, Administrative Court, Burnett J
11 July 2014
The Secretary of State misdirected herself in failing to consider the benefits that registration as a British citizen offered to a child applicant.
(1) The claimant, a 16-year-old who has lived in the UK since 2005 and had indefinite leave to remain since 2006, applied for registration as a British citizen with the support of his parents. His application was refused on the grounds that neither of his parents is a British citizen and sufficient grounds could not be found to treat the application exceptionally.
(2) The claimant submitted that he had been in the UK for a substantial portion of his life with indefinite leave to remain, and citizenship would help him to feel more settled. He had no ties with his parents’ home countries (Bolivia and New Zealand). The good character requirements were satisfied.
(3) Having no right of appeal, the Claimant sought a review of the decision with the SSHD, which maintained the decision.
(4) The claimant sought judicial review on three grounds:
(1) the decision is not in accordance with section 55 of the Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, which reflects article 3 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, because the defendant has not paid proper regard to the best interests/welfare of FI;
(2) the policy applied by the SSHD is unclear on how the best interests of a child applicant for registration should be treated and is thus unlawful; and
(3) the defendant misapplied her policy to the claimant and, on the material before her, her conclusion was flawed.
(5) HELD: This judicial review claim was granted, quashing the decision to refuse the claimant’s application for registration as a British citizen.
(6) The SSHD’s policy was not overturned outright, and the court found that instructions to staff reviewing cases were lawful.
(7) The letter notifying the claimant of the reasons for refusal spoke only of his parents’ nationalities and the lack of exceptional reasons to register his citizenship. The court found wrapped within the statement must have been a conclusion that it was not in the claimant’s best interests to be registered. This conclusion was made more explicit in the second review of his status.
(8) The court found that this conclusion was flawed. There were clear benefits of British citizenship, and the claimant had presented evidence of the value of citizenship to him. These benefits became even clearer when his mother was refused indefinite leave to remain, even though her removal is extraordinarily unlikely. Without considering the benefits to the claimant as part of the overall decision, the decision was misdirected and did not withstand scrutiny.
 – Staff instruction lawful
 – Conclusion
 – Best interests of the child in immigration decisions
 – Benefits of citizenship registration
 – Conclusion