Fall in number of people taking part in citizenship ceremonies in Nottinghamshire

Fewer people in Nottinghamshire became British citizens last year after participating in special citizenship ceremonies, figures show.

By Patrick Jack
Thursday, 9th September 2021, 4:30 pm

Think tank British Future said many ceremonies have been delayed across the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving applicants waiting for the security that citizenship provides.

Home Office figures show 291 people attended citizenship ceremonies in Nottinghamshire in 2020 – down 31 per cent from 419 the year before.

It means that since the figures were first published in 2004, 6,530 people have gained citizenship in the area.

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Attendees stand up and swear an oath at a British citizenship ceremony.

Just under 75,000 people took part in citizenship ceremonies nationally last year, including about 1,000 at British consulates abroad.

This was a drop of 34 per cent from 2019, and the lowest annual figure since 2004.

The events are the final step in the process to full citizenship and being able to obtain a British passport, but were suspended for large parts of 2020 due to Covid-19.

Participants are asked to make an oath of allegiance to the Queen and pledge to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK.

They are then presented with a certificate of British citizenship.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, the process of becoming a British citizen has been slower and more uncertain than in the past.

"This is partly because of the difficulty scheduling a ceremony, which remained a requirement even though many authorities were not offering ceremonies due to Covid-19."

In the year to June, applications rose by 36 per cent, but grants of citizenship increased by just 5 per cent.

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‘Sense of belonging’

Steve Ballinger, British Future communications director, said: “Adults don’t get their papers until they have attended the ceremony.

“People were left waiting for the security and sense of belonging citizenship brings.”

The Institute for Public Policy Research think tank said the costs of citizenship have increased considerably and wants the process reformed.

Marley Morris, IPPR associate director for migration, trade and communities, said: “Citizenship ceremonies are an important symbolic moment, yet have a low public profile.

“Councils should explore ways to celebrate citizenship ceremonies more widely in their communities.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We work closely with local authorities to ensure anyone who requires a British citizenship ceremony can attend one as quickly as possible.”

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