Fall in number of people taking part in British citizenship ceremonies in Doncaster

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

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 10:55 am

The 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 92 people attended citizenship ceremonies in Doncaster in 2020 – 84 fewer than 176 the year before.

It means that since the figures were first published in 2004, 3,604 people have gained citizenship in the area.

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The events are the final step in the process to full citizenship and being able to obtain a British passport

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

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

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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 and a welcome pack.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “During the 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 citizenship ceremony, which remained a requirement even though many local authorities were not offering ceremonies due to Covid-19."

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

Steve Ballinger, director of communications at the think tank British Future, said: “Registrars worked hard but Covid meant many citizenship ceremonies were delayed – and adults don’t get their papers until they have attended the ceremony.

"People were left waiting for the security and sense of belonging that citizenship brings."

A Home Office spokesman said local authorities paused in-person ceremonies to put the health of the public first, but they have now restarted.

He added: “We continue to work closely with local authorities to ensure anyone who requires a British citizenship ceremony can attend one as quickly as possible."

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.