A UK-born man has been ordered to leave the country by immigration officials who say he is not British, despite having lived here his entire life.
Shane Ridge, from Colne in Lancashire, was threatened with a £5,000 fine or potential prison sentence if he does not leave the UK because his Australian-born mother and British father were never married.
The 21-year-old, who says he is as “British as they come”, said he received a letter from the Home Office last week telling him that he must leave because he had “no lawful basis to be in the UK”.
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He believes this is because his mother was born in Australia when his grandparents were visiting the country – but she subsequently became a British citizen.
Under UK law, if a child is born before July 2006, the father’s British nationality will only automatically pass to them if his parents are married at the time of his birth.
As Mr Ridge’s parents were never married, he is not considered a British citizen and will now be required to apply for “right of abode”, TheGuardian reported.
But he said he had lived in the UK all his life, having attended school, paid tax and voted assuming he was a British citizen.
He said: “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.”
He said the first time he got an inkling that there was a problem was when he tried to apply for a passport to go on holiday with his girlfriend last year and it was rejected without explanation.
He later successfully applied for an Australian passport but the Passport Office told him it would be safe to travel and return to the UK after the holiday.
Mr Ridge had no further problems until he received the letter through the door last week.
He said he will now have to begin the process of applying for British citizenship or at the very least a visa which would allow him to remain in the UK.
Mr Ridge said he is angry that his life as a law-abiding citizen is now in doubt.
The apprentice joiner had to surrender his driving licence and has been ordered to stop driving immediately.
He said: “It’s terrifying. My parents keep telling me everything will be fine but I’m really scared.
“My girlfriend, Jodie, isn’t happy. Everyone is in shock and wondering how this can possibly happen. I’ve lived by the book – never had a criminal record.
“I have brothers and sisters. They have dual citizenship because my mum married their dad but my youngest sister, who is five, is also technically in the same position as me as my mum didn’t marry her dad.
“The letter even says they will stop me accessing the NHS or banks. I’ve always been to the doctors with no problems and me and my girlfriend have a joint bank account.”
The Home Office declined to comment when contacted by The Independent but did say they were in contact with Mr Ridge to help him apply to remain in the UK.