Q&A - Meeting with Home Office & FCDO - 24.10.2022
Below is the full list of questions and answers from the recent meeting with Chagossians and representatives from Home Office and FCDO on the 24th October 2022..
Further written guidance on gov.uk very shortly.
David Grocott [FCDO]
Gareth Edwards [Home Office]
John McDonnell [Home Office]
Vanessa Calou [BIOT Citizens]
Dominique Pierre [BIOT Heritage]
Claudette Pauline & Ezechiel Desire [Chagos Asylum People]
Marie Isabelle Charlot [Chagos Islanders Movement]
Sabrina Jean [Chagos Refugees Group UK]
Pierre Prosper [Chagossian Committee Seychelles]
Louis Jimmy Elyse [Chagossian Voices]
Rosy Leveque [Independent]
On 23 November, an online route and a paper route will be available. These will require applicants to fill out a form, before attending an appointment to provide their biometric information and supporting evidence.
We would strongly encourage people to use the online route, because it will be quicker and safer. Applicants will need an email address (or access to an email address) to use the online route.
We are developing some additional assisted routes for those unable to use the online/paper routes, but these will not be available on 23 Nov.
The citizenship application process and passport application process are two separate things. Individuals can only apply for a passport once they have been granted citizenship.
Citizenship applications will take up to 6 months. This does not include the time required to then obtain a passport.
Individuals should not move to the UK before they have been granted British citizenship and received a British passport. If they attempt to do so they may be turned away at the border, and will find it difficult to access any support.
1. How long will the process take?
Citizenship applications could take up to six months to process, though it is hoped straightforward applications will be processed more quickly. Passport applications are separate.
2. Does this timeframe have anything to do with the appearance of some Chagossian groups at a recent conference in South Africa?
No. Six months is the standard processing time for citizenship applications.
3. Will citizenship ceremonies be online or in person?
The expectation is that ceremonies will be in person for those living in Mauritius/Seychelles. For those living in the UK, it will depend on the local authority.
4. Which documents will be required for the citizenship application?
We do not require any specific documents – it is for the applicant to provide the best evidence they can showing an ancestral link to someone born on BIOT. Birth certificates are the ‘gold standard’, but we will accept other forms of evidence, such as DNA tests. More information will be provided in future guidance.
5. Will referees need to be British?
If you are living in the UK, referees will need to be British. If you are living in a Commonwealth country (including Mauritius and Seychelles) referees can be Commonwealth (e.g. Mauritian/Seychellois) passport holders (they must have a passport).
6. Will there be a fee for biometric appointments?
No. There are no fees for the citizenship application.
7. Will there be a fee for passports?
Yes. Current fees for individuals applying for a passport from Mauritius/Seychelles are £86 for an adult, and £56 for a child, plus a £19.86 courier fee (these may increase next year)
8. How will people in prison be able to apply?
We will look into this.
9. What will happen to the historic records you are digitising?
In the short term, the records will be used by the Home Office to help them assess citizenship applications. In the longer term, it is our intention to create a means for the Chagossian community to access the records, subject to data protection laws.
10. If an individual has more than one ancestral link to BIOT, which one should they use in their citizenship application?
Applicants will need to choose which link to use, and should generally choose one where the evidence is strongest.
11. If Chagossians with British citizenship want to bring non-Chagossian family members to the UK to live, will they need to get a visa?
Yes, any non-British citizens will need to follow all of the existing visa rules.
12. Will non-Chagossian family members need to pay for their visas?
Yes, if that is what the existing visa rules require.
13. For Mauritian birth certificates, does the certificate have to be within its three month expiry date to be accepted as evidence?
We don’t think so, but will confirm.
14. Do birth certificates have to be original or will copies suffice?
We think copies will suffice, but will confirm.
15. Will Chagossians living on Rodrigues and Agalega need to travel to the main island to do their biometrics and provide their evidence?
16. What measures will you put in place to help people in Mauritius/Seychelles apply?
We are working to put in place some measures to assist individuals who are unable to use the online and paper routes that will launch on 23 November. Further information will be provided on these measures shortly.
17. Will the cost of those measures be met by the Chagossian Support Package?
Decisions on what spending is counted against the CSP commitment is a matter for ministers, but that decision will have no bearing on whether or not the additional measures will be put in place.
18. Can people who are already BOTC apply for British citizenship through the new route?
19. If people only apply to become a BOTC and not a British citizen, can they apply to be a British citizen later?
Yes, but if they want to apply for British citizenship through this route they will need to do so within the five year time limit.
20. Do you have to apply for a passport within the five year period?
No. The five year deadline only relates to citizenship applications. Once you are a British citizen, you can apply for a passport at any time.
21. Is the five year deadline for the submission of application or for the granting of citizenship?
It is for the submission of applications.
22. Will applicants need a Mauritian/Seychellois passport to identify themselves or will an identity card suffice?
An identity card will suffice.
23. Can the citizenship and passport application process be combined?
No, but we are working with colleagues from His Majesty’s Passport Office to minimise any duplication between the two processes.
24. Can applicants apply for a national insurance/NHS number when they apply for their citizenship?
25. What will happen if there are discrepancies on birth certificates (e.g. different spelling of names)?
The evidence provided by applicants will be reviewed by experienced case workers, and we do not anticipate spelling discrepancies to cause an issue.
26. If the evidence provided isn’t sufficient, will the application be automatically rejected?
No. The Home Office will contact the applicant to request further information if needed.
27. Will you share further guidance online?
Yes. We intend to upload additional guidance to gov.uk by the end of October.