The Home Office has apologised for ordering a man who was born and raised in the UK to leave the country, saying it now realises he is “automatically a British citizen”.
Shane Ridge, 21, who describes himself as “as British as they come” was “speechless” after being told last week that he was in fact not a British citizen and had to “leave the UK voluntarily” or face prison or a fine.
But the Home Office has now retracted the threat and admitted it misidentified his citizenship status.
If a child was born in Britain before July 2006, the father’s British nationality only automatically passes to the child if he was married to the mother at the time of birth.
The mixup appears to have come about because Ridge’s parents never married and his mother was born in Australia, although she has dual UK-Australian citizenship.
When Ridge applied for Right of Abode, the Home Office failed to identify that, as his maternal grandmother was British and that his mother therefore had “settled” status when he was born, they said.
But the Home Office still seems slightly confused about its own rules.
In a statement the it said: “The Home Office has now established that Mr Ridge is automatically a British citizen. We have spoken with Mr Ridge to apologise for this error and the distress caused.
“When Mr Ridge applied for the Right of Abode, we diid not identify that his maternal grandmother was British and that as a result his mother had settled status in the UK at the time of his birth.”
Political scientist, Rob Ford, came to the same conclusion a few hours earlier.
The development will no doubt be relief to Ridge who only found about about his shaky legal status when his driving licence was revoked.
Ridge, from Colne, Lancashire, said last week: “It’s surreal. This is the only letter I have ever received in relation to me having to leave the country. It just came through my letterbox out of the blue.
“The last bit scared me the most – ‘leave the UK voluntarily’. I’m speechless – I don’t know what I can say. I received the letter from Immigration Enforcement saying they were going to revoke my driving licence and I should leave the UK voluntarily or face a £5,000 fine.
“I’m confused and worried that I’ll have to leave my entire family behind and move to a country that I don’t know. I don’t understand it because I was born in the UK. I did my GCSEs here, I’ve worked for six years, I pay tax and national insurance.
“Me and my girlfriend rented a house, I vote, I use the NHS and opened a bank account without any problems, ever.”