Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Changes to the law on citizenship: Children of British mothers

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 came into force today (13 January 2010) which means I finally "have a right to register as a British citizen" but I will have to pay £540 to claim my British citizenship by descent!

This new law does not allow UK mothers to pass on citizenship to their children regardless of where or when they were born. It requires all those born abroad to a UK mother prior to 1983 to register with the UKBA and pay an exorbitant fee (presently £540) before they can apply for a UK passport. Anyone born in the same circumstances after 1983 or at anytime to a UK father can simply complete a passport application without the need to register and without a fee.

All British women are not equal. My British mother couldn't pass her citizenship to me until today - and it doesn't mean I am automatically British. I have to 'register' and pay £540 and attend a British citizenship ceremony before I can gain my British citizenship.

And it's worth noting that registration can be rejected. The right to register as a British citizen does not guarantee that an application will be approved.

Why isn't a legitimate claim to British citizenship by descent, automatic? Why are we considered less equal to the same right that others can claim? Does this inequality mean that we are second-class British citizens?

It is disgraceful that I (and others in the same situation) will have to register and pay for our right to British citizenship by descent. The British government made us wait all these years for the unfair law to be amended and then decided we are still not equal to children of British fathers.

Many British women who gave birth abroad were war brides (my mum was one). Shouldn't their children have the same right to British citizenship by descent as the children of British fathers do?

The Members of Parliament have passed a Bill that blatantly discriminates against British mothers and their children. And shockingly, the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill - with its blatant gender and age discrimination - has now become law.

If you are BRITISH (British expats can sign too!) or a British resident you can help stop the gender and age discrimination! Add your name to this petition:

Related posts:
People born before 1983 to British mothers

British Citizenship - discrimination
Guardian's Liberty Clinic - query about British citizenship


  1. The high cost and complexity of registration has made this route to British citizenship somewhat less appealing.

    The number of people who could benefit from this change is unclear. About 3,000 applications were made each year under the old criteria (birth after 7 February 1961 but before 1 January 1983). The high cost of registration and the "good character" requirement are a defacto form of immigration control. To refer to this a an "entitlement" to registration as a British citizen is a stretch.

  2. To Anonymous - the exhorbitant cost and the registration requirement make the whole thing very off-putting and not appealing at all to me. I certainly don't consider this path to British citizenship an 'entitlement' since it is based on submitting an application and paying a fee and attending a ceremony - all of which a younger person with a British parent or born anytime to a British father, doesn't have to do! I consider this method a real insult to all of us who should be granted our British citizenship by birthright. We are not immigrants to be "controlled" - we are the children of British women. It is unjustified discrimination!!

    I certainly don't intend to go ahead with this insulting "right to register". And I hope others won't be tempted to either. This is an outrageous way to treat us.

  3. You know what I think about this, and have signed the petition! Flighty xx

  4. Hi Flighty, I do indeed know - and I appreciate your support. Thank you!

  5. Will the United Kingdom now withdraw the reservation it made to the United Nations Committee on the Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) stating that it would not apply to its nationality and immigration laws? If it did, that would be real proof that discrimination had finally been eliminated.

  6. Good point - discrimination is discrimnation! There shouldn't be any exceptions made.

  7. Hi Maureen, this is very well articulated. I just wish the people who make these unfair rules would read it and THINK about the implications! Seemingly, this is beyond their capabilities.

  8. Hi Greg - thank you. Unfortunately, the members of Parliament knew full well what they were doing - and passed the Bill into law anyway. They obviously don't care that it is unjustified discrimination.

  9. I hadn't realised the law had changed (and I'm still not entirely sure what changed exactly from the previous version?) But when it came to claiming citizenship as a Canadian through my European roots, I went with Holland (through my dad) over England (through my mum) just for the reason that Britain's law is completely sexist and discriminatory.

    Funny enough, after a few years in Holland, I now live in the UK so maybe British citizenship would be handy. Though it seems I get pretty much everything I need through my Dutch (right to live, work) and Canadian (right to vote) citizenships, so why would I bother.... I agree, until the law changes, I won't even consider it.

  10. Hello maryka,
    Before the new law came into force, a person born abroad before 7 Feb. 1961 to a British mother, was not eligible for citizenship.

    This new law means I am now eligible but that I have to register (be approved) and pay the fee and attend a ceremony, none of which I would have to do if my father was British.

    You are very fortunate to have been able to claim your Dutch citizenship via your father because you are so right that Britan's law is sexist and discriminatory!

  11. As a Canadian/Dutch dual national there is little advantage to registration as a British citizen; however, Dutch citizens can be deported, British citizens can't. As a Commonwealth citizen (Canadian) with a mother born in the United Kingdom you qualify for a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode in your Canadian or Dutch passport.

  12. Hi Maureen, did you see the post on the Liberty Clinic section of the Guardian online? Liberty was one of the NGOs I wrote to when the Bill was being debated, and they were making representations to the committee. I got a very similar and non-committal response from them - almost as if to say: be grateful, at least something is being done!

  13. Hi Greg - yes, and did you read the comments following it? I wonder if Liberty will reply to any of the comments.

    I think it's disgraceful how they brag that "Liberty welcomed this change in the law which removed this historic discrimination against those who wished to claim citizenship through their mother." as if everything was okay despite the law still blatantly discriminating against us!

    I don't have a very high opinion of Liberty because of their attitude regarding this inequality in citizenship. On their website, Liberty say this:

    "We promote the values of individual human dignity, equal treatment and fairness as the foundations of a democratic society."

    What equal treatment and fairness are we being given regarding British citizenship?!

  14. The problem with the automatic acquisition of British Citizenship is that there are people who would not welcome it. They may have lived their entire lives abroad and could find there lives complicated by it. I remember reading about someone running for political office in Australia who was found to have British Citizenship as well as Australian Citizenship and had to renounce their British Citizenship in order to continue with their campaign.

    The registration fee could have been set up on a sliding scale based upon a persons ability to pay, that would have been fairer.

    The good character requirement appears to have stemmed from the attempt to acquire citizenship under section 4C of the BNA 1981 purely for political gain by a known terrorist (David Hicks, the "Australian Taliban").

    Liberty's response was long and convoluted. It said a lot with really saying anything.

  15. I don't see this issue of dual citizenship being an insurmountable problem.

    I should think most countries do recognize dual citizenship and for those which don't, those people could simply choose to not apply to accept British citizenship or alternatively, choose to renounce it as in the example you gave.

    And I don't consider any registration fee, no matter how big or small the amount, as fair when you compare it to the fact that children of British fathers pay no fee at all for their claim to citizenship!

  16. Hi Maureen, the "problem" of automatic citizenship was one of the reasons cited in replies that some of us received from the Home Office while the Bill was being debated. It is a nonsensical argument. What about all the people who are "automatically" British because of their paternal lineage? In instances where it may indeed be a problem, there is a very simple process to renounce British citizenship.

    The more I read about this, the more incensed I become. Why place barriers in the way of people with a LEGITIMATE claim (by any internationally acepted norms) to British nationality, when the attention should be on the flood of illegal migrants seeking refuge in the UK? I deeply resent the suggestion made by the authorities that they are doing us a favour by opening up this "avenue" to claim our birthright, but making us pay dearly to claim it, and reserving the right to refuse granting it! It is a slight on our British mothers, as it effectively makes them second-class citizens. Sadly, not even the institutions of civil society that are meant to protect the rights of people seem to care a fig!

  17. Hi Greg - you are so right! - claiming dual citizenship as the reason for our different and unfair treatment is absolutely nonsensical. As you point out, it's not a problem for those able to claim automatic citizenship via the paternal line. And indeed, it's apparently not a problem for those now born abroad after 1983 to a British mother!

    And I agree with you about how this inequality is in effect, making our British mothers second-class citizens. And we (the children of British mothers) are being treated nearly the same as immigrants (who have to qualify to apply for British citizenship) with this pathetic excuse for a path to citizenship.

    It's very, very wrong. Shame on the MPs for passing this blatantly discriminatory Bill into Law!

  18. Hi once again, Maureen: the efforts of you and Elizabeth have been fantastic in raising awareness of the problem. The issue is how to bring this matter into the broader public domain? I wrote to a couple of journalists working for leading newspapers, who felt that the issue was not "sexy" enough to warrant space in their columns. The politicians who could have made a difference, just didn't bother to respond to our representations. I was very disappointed by the responses of Liberty and ILPA (to their credit, they at least responded, albeit not positively). The challenge posed by the epetition is that most of the people affected by this issue cannot make their voices heard.

    Those of us that feel strongly about this need to develop a strategy on how to take his forward. Your blog is a powerful tool; we must mobilize eligible people to sign the epetition; continue to write to MPs and journalists. Ultimately, we can make our voices heard! From your side, just keep up the fantastic work!

  19. Hi Greg, thank you for your kind words. Elizabeth and I are trying very hard to get more signatures on the petition. I have posted about it on Twitter but still finding it difficult to get people to take an interest. The problem is that most British people seem very apathetic and since it doesn't affect them, they can't be bothered to sign the petition. As you quite rightly point out, most of the people affected by this issue can't make their voices heard since they don't live in the UK and thus can't sign the petition. It's a real catch 22.

    I am also finding most journalists to be uninterested but I'm not giving up. And as you say writing to MPs doesn't work. Many of our letters were simply ignored. They just seemed to be determined to push the Bill through and even managed to increase the fee substantially during the time they spent on debating the Bill. It's discouraging indeed to realize how our MPs failed to amend the law to make us equal to children of British fathers.

    I appreciate your support and encouraging words, Greg. And I agree. Ultimately, we can and we will make our voices heard!

  20. My mother was a war-bride like yours. I had to get a certificate of the Right of Abode to come here. England has been good to me--I have a house,a partner,a job...I do not wish to return on a permanent basis to canada. But this year upon going to renew passport and my ROA certificate, for the first time in 18 years i've hit a terrible snag!Up till now you just sent in the old passport and they put in a new stamp. Now you have to reapply JUST AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME, and you are charged over £100. for the pleasure! They want my mother's birth certificate (original) which I can't obtain--both parents are dead and all her documents disappeared during her last illness (dementia.) The UK passport which I could have used to claim citizenship myself was also among the lost documents. I am absolutely sick with stress over all this!

  21. Hello and thank you for sharing your story. I think it's absolutely terrible the way they have changed the rules for Right of Abode. I can certainly understand why you feel stressed and worried about this.

    Your experience is another example of the way the British government has made life difficult for children born abroad to British mothers.

    I think you should contact your MP about what has happened to you.

    Also, contact about your problem.

    I'm sure something can be done to help you.

  22. Birth certificates are available from the General Registrar's Office ( A mother's passport is not mandatory to make an application for citizenship on form UKM. A mother's full birth certificate (indicating father's profession) will do.

  23. Hi Maureen: things seem to have gone quiet on the topic. I wrote to the Government Equalities Office (it is meant to act as protection for gender equality), but they haven't replied. Still such a pity that children of British mothers have to "buy" their citizenship, while those claiming it through their fathers get it for free!

  24. Hi Greg - that's very interesting. I'll write to the Government Equalities Office too. Hopefully, they will reply to one of us!

    I wrote to the Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline last year and they weren't any help at all:

    "In this case Acts of Parliament are included in the Table of Exceptions from the Sex Discrimination Act. Age discrimination would also not apply as this only currently applies to employment and education."

    I find it amazing that discrimination is still allowed in the United Kingdom. This is the 21st century!

    And this was the way the letter from the Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline ended:

    "If you feel that the law itself is discriminatory then you should be contacting your MP to ask him to lobby to have this altered."

    Yeah, right - the MPs are the very people who passed this unfair law (The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009), knowing that it discriminates and knowing that they could get away with it!

    It has gone a bit quiet, you're right but I haven't given up the fight for our equal right to claim automatic British citizenship by descent. We need to keep writing letters and spreading the word about this blatant discrimination. Justice will be served eventually.

  25. Hi Maureen: I wonder what direction the new Government is going to take on this issue? The clear messages on capping immigration might well lead to it being made even more difficult and expensive for people in our position to register?
    I must admit that I have sacrificed principle for expediency - and have gone through the onerous process of "registering". Continuing to pay for visas to enter the UK became an increasing anathema and financial burden. It was surprisingly quick after I had gathered all the documentation. But I was very disappointed at the citizenship "ceremony" held at the British High Commission in Pretoria. After paying our money, we were ushered into an office, made the oath of allegiance before a rather bored-looking consular official, then were told "that's it". No speeches, not a cup of tea - just an administrative formality! Certainly very different from what the UK Border Agency website leads one to believe. After the ceremony, I really felt that I had "bought" my citizenship, and it left me feeling very disappointed.

  26. Hi Greg, Congratulations on becoming a British citizen! It's a shame you couldn't wait for this unfair law to be changed but I can understand why you decided you couldn't wait any longer.

    I'm hopeful that the new Government will address our concern for British citizenship equality. I really don't think their plans for capping immigration would apply to our particular case (children born outside the UK to British mothers).

  27. So if i understand this correctly, I, born in Los Angeles in 1954 to a British mother, can actually become a british citizen if i fill out all the forms, jump all the obstacles, pay all the fees and don't get rejected?

  28. Yes. And even better, if you are willing to wait for the unfair law to be amended, you won't have to pay a registration fee.

  29. It's almost un-believable that this has come about; I can remember thinking when I was a boy it was very unfair that I could'nt become British just because it was my mother, not my father, that was a British subject. No kid born in L.A. was ever more out of place than me. (Although I do love California my home state)Do you think the laws will be amended to maybe do away with that fee? (550 pounds; That's pretty steep). I have to say, I may not wait for it to be changed, this is something I've wanted my whole life.

  30. Hi Timothy, yes it's amazing that we (children born abroad to British mothers) finally have the right to claim British citizenship.

    However we are still being discriminated against because if we were born in the same circumstances after 1983 or had a British father, we wouldn't have to register or pay a fee.

    I am sure the need to register and pay the fee will be scrapped - because it's a blatant inequality in the law. This message from Harriet Harman was announced via twitter on March 23rd:

    "Talked to the Home Sec. We are going to scrap registration fee for nationality for British via mother from next year. Sweet tweet success"

    I will be interested to see what the new government says about this, and plan to make inquiries soon.

  31. Hi Maureen; well Ms. Harman sounds pretty definite. That's a good sign. Government goes at it's own pace, but she sounds like she's keeping her eye on it for us. As much as I'd like to get going on this right away, what can I say, money is tight. 1 more year is not too bad.

  32. Yes, I'm very optimistic about it being addressed. If you aren't in any hurry, I think you would be wise to wait until the law is amended. When the inequality is corrected, you will have the same right to automatic British citizenship as others do who have a British father. Then you will be able to claim your British citizenship - and apply for a British passport if you want to.

  33. Hi Maureen: I don't think that things will change without ongoing pressure! The new administration is desperately trying to address the budgetary deficit, and will not be naturally inclined towards losing sources of revenue! There is both a new Equalities Minister and Home Secretary, who may not be in the loop as regards Ms Harman's informal commitment. I think as many as possible of us should write to the new "bosses" to state our case yet again. Also to Lord Avebury (Lib Dem), who has been a great champion for us. I'm still somewhat worried that the government may not be sympathetic to us, given their commitment to drastically reduce the number of people being given British citizenship. For me the issue remains more about the principle rather than the monetary cost, and I'm prepared to continue fighting this! I see the petition mechanism has been suspended?

  34. Hi Greg - yes, I agree with you. The new Government has just officially started business today with the State Opening of Parliament for the 2010-11 session and I am planning to contact the new Equalites Minister and Home Secretary, Theresa May. I am hoping she is already aware of Ms Harman's commitment. It's true it was informal but she did make it public on her twitter account so I think that gives her words more weight. (I hope so anyway!).

    This new coalition government supports civil liberties so I am quite hopeful they will support our fight for equality regarding British citizenship.

    I totally agree - the issue is the principal rather than the monetary cost. I am also quite prepared to continue fighting this.

    Yes, I just found out about the e-petition service being suspended. It will be interesting to see what the new government is planning to do with it.

  35. Hi Maureen, I am back catching up on all the news. My spouse was critcally ill for the past six months and I lost concentration on everything else. He is recovering. It took me six months in all from first registering to then receiving my passport three weeks ago. Am facing more discriminatory problems here in the US in addition to these UK ones. Seems it never ends. Really pleased to read of the "progress" but I have paid all those fees in full. Wonder if there will be a refund and will my status become one of birthright automatically or still ne regarded as acquired citizenship?

  36. Hi Tim, I'm so sorry to hear that your spouse has been seriously ill. I hope he is feeling better soon. I'm also sorry to hear that you have been facing discriminatory problems in the US. Sometimes life can be very difficult indeed.

    I wonder if your fees will be refundable when the government finally corrects the citizenship inequality. That's a very good question!

    You may want to post about it on the new Your Freedom website:

    You could start a new post about your issue or add a comment to my post here:

  37. Part Two:
    What concerns me more though, besides the fee issue, is that we are not being given our birthright citizenship. Referring to the government website on Citizenship (, and I quote, “We consider you to be of good character if you show respect for the rights and freedom of the United Kingdom, have observed its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident. We will check with the police and may contact other government departments as part of our character check. By signing the application form you are giving your consent for us to contact these organisations to obtain information about you.”

    This implies a different citizen to the one born in Britain. As I interpret it, if you are born in Britain today or of British parents overseas (which implies that you are actually born on British soil), then you are automatically British, no questions asked. Nothing can be taken away from you. According to our conditions for registration, if we are older than ten years of age, we are required to complete a "good character" section to the registration application, and if we should at a later date be found to have given false information, for example, we can have our citizenship taken away. This CANNOT happen to a British person. This means that we are NOT being given our automatic British citizenship, as was the case with children born of British fathers through decent. What we have, like all aliens, is an acquired citizenship which is dispensable. This is extremely sad, after so much effort has been put into achieving equality for British women.

  38. Hi Maureen (I just noticed you have comments from a Timothy. We are not the same person, just in case someone wonders),

    I am sending this in two parts as it won't accept the entire comment. This is rather long and it’s taken me awhile to formulate my thoughts into a cohesive comment, but hope I make my point clearly. I also prefer to write to you in preference to the government site, if that’s OK? There is a lot of information to be considered!! Reading your blogs and looking again at the bigger picture of the new Bill, I am concerned that the issues we are all aware of, viz. registration, paying exorbitant fees etc., were not considered honestly in the preparation of the Bill. I do ask myself therefore, "What was the intent of the previous government in changing the law, if the primary object was not to level the playing field and give British women equal status as British men?" Were they trying to appear as though they were really concerned about equal rights to get the votes, or what?

    What they did achieve (as you so rightly said), was to give the children of those British women the opportunity to apply for citizenship, and I am very thankful for that. I have wanted my citizenship for 63 years and finally have it, for better or for worse! We are however, not being treated as natural born citizens, as the conditions for our application of registration are similar to those of an alien who has earned citizenship through one reason or another. There are some minor variations, but like aliens we are required to provide, in addition to self, personal details of parents and proof of “Referees and Identity”. However, we do not need to live in the UK for five years.

    I wrote many letters over the years, like so many of us, to the Government (Queen, Prime Ministers’, ministers’), the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, equal rights organisations and newspapers about the inequality of the old law, but generally found very little empathy. There did not seem to be anything of importance or urgency in most of these peoples’ minds. The first comment by a member of the public to your “Your Freedom” site, “just wanting to save yourself 540 pounds”, is typical of the response from people who have never been faced with any form of discrimination. Of course, there were the few exceptions. I also corresponded with Lord Avebury as you know, over the conditions and fees, but he reluctantly reported that nothing was achieved at the time of the passing of the Bill to remove them.

  39. Hi Tim, thank you for sharing your thoughts about this issue. I agree with you about the shocking lack of empathy and understanding from MPs, journalists, equal rights organizations, and most members of the public. It's quite discouraging to think so many just don't care about equality.

    I have become quite cynical about politics as I've got older and even more so because of this important issue. The politicians found a way to alter the law to give us an opportunity for citizenship but without offering us full equality. It has given the Government a very clever way to make a lot of money off of us!

    And of course it's not just the fee that's totally outrageous but the different sort of citizenship we are being offered. It is indeed extremely sad. Our British mothers still don't have the same right to pass on their citizenship automatically like British fathers always have been able to do.

  40. I forgot to mention in my last comment for those who are applying from overseas, that it cost me a total of US $1250 (UKS 823). This included the Registration of Birth application fee, the Citizenship ceremony fee in New York, the passport application fee, courier fees and the Embassy in Washinbgton's cost to post applications to the UK and back to me.

  41. Thanks for the info. The fee you paid is outrageous particularly when you consider that you should be eligible for automatic citizenship via you British mother! It's disgusting that this blatant inequality continues to exist in British law.

  42. Hi Maureen: I'm sorry to hear of the difficulties Tim faced. My experience of "registering" as a British citizen was quick, cold and clinical. Seemingly, all they wanted was my money!! The whole process took 8 weeks.

    To add insult to injury, my (married) partner still requires a visa to enter the UK. As the spouse of an EU citizen, visas to all other EU countries are issued free of charge, and without any requirements such as fingerprinting, proof of employment, ait tickets etc. - but for my own country, we have to pay 90 pounds a time, and go through the whole application process!!! In hindsight, I should not have gone through this process.

    Still no response to my most recent letters to the Home Secretary....

  43. Hi Greg - thanks for sharing the info about your experiences.

    I haven't had a response to my letter to the Home Secretary either.

  44. another ElisabethFriday, July 23, 2010

    Hi Maureen,
    [The page I originally posted on seems to have disappeared]. I'm in the same boat, and fuming like everyone else. It's especially frustrating not to be in the UK where I'd feel better able to do something. Anyway, I was enquiring about MP Harman's mention of fees being dropped - is there any liklihood that that's NOT just a pol telling the voters what they want to hear? And who in the new government looks likely to support our position? Does the party in power really make a difference in this situation?

    What I keep fixating on is the fact that even now, with the amendment, the law continues to discriminate against our mothers. Would like to hear your ideas why that is - can't accept that it's simply a budgetary issue.

    So glad to have found you!

  45. If we don't want to weaken our already delicate position, we need to be very, very careful about uttering words like "refund", "illegitimacy", or any other reasonable/fair/logical - to us - concern that can be used to justify NOT fixing this wretched inequity. Remember, they WANT the law to stand as it is. Main justification, as we've even seen here, is that we're just another bunch of the undeserving grasping for entitlements. THAT's the attitude we need to change.

  46. another Elisabeth - I'm not sure what to think about Harriet Harman's promise she made on Twitter. I'd like to beieve she was making an honest attempt to correct the inequality. The trouble is Ms Harman didn't give any details (and there weren't any reports in the news about a proposed change to the law) so that after the government changed, it appears that our issue still needs to be addressed.

    I am hopeful that the new government will listen to our valid complaint and correct this discrimination once and for all.

    I'm glad you found me too!

  47. Elisabeth - yes, I agree that we should be precise and stick to the facts. The gist of our complaint is that the law as it stands is unjustified discrimination. Our British mothers are being discriminated against for their gender, and we are being discriminated against because of our age.

  48. Hi Maureen
    My mother started dealing with the home office on this matter in 1950 and me 25 years ago and I came to the UK to take up the fight 20 years ago. I have dealt with every home secretary during that time and I would cast serious doubt on any thing that was said to you from a government minister via TWITTER!
    Firstly, No govt minister or in oppostion will reply directly, they will have an underling in the department write to you on their behalf. If they were to say x in written form (it is a historical document) and then the government's policy were to change they would have serious egg on face or could loose their job. So take anything from a twitter with a pinch of salt!
    All correspondences from any minister will come from their dept and will be written on letterhead and signed. Not by twitter and not by email. That twitter could have been written by anyone. No one in politics would ever say anything of significance on Twitter or email because it is there political career on the line. Only a novice might make that mistake and they would only do it once and a person of Harriet's pedigree in politics would never ever.
    This issue has an Parliamenty name of "the Michael Turberville Question" and is to this date still unresolved.
    Here is an early reference to the issue when I first managed to get Parliament to take notice of us:

    and is well documented here as to just how serious this issue is, one family 6 children, 7 circumstances...

    and the original CAMPAIGNS website

    looking forward to the next opportunity that presents itself in Parliament,
    Michael Turberville
    Chairman CAMPAIGNS

  49. Hi Michael, I admit I was probably being very optimistic to believe this issue would finally be addressed because of the message by Harriet Harman on Twitter.

    Thank you for all the information and links. Let's hope that the new government will finally listen to us and put a stop to this blatant citizenship inequality!