A man who has voted, paid taxes and used the NHS in Britain for two decades has been told to leave the country immediately even though he was born in the UK.
Shane Ridge, a joiner from Colne, Lancashire, has lived in the UK since birth and describes himself as ‘as British as they come’.
But last week, the 21-year-old – whose parents are both British – received a ‘terrifying’ letter from the Home Office telling him he had ‘no lawful basis to be in the UK’
Shane Ridge, with his girlfriend Jodie. He has received a Home Office letter telling him to leave the UK, even though he was born here.
The Home Office letter says he has no lawful basis to be in the UK, and tells him to leave the country immediately
Mr Ridge’s mother was born in Australia during a family holiday, but has lived in Britain ever since and now has dual citizenship between the two countries.
But because Mr Ridge’s parents never married, Mr Ridge does not have an automatic right to citizenship and must apply for his ‘right of abode’ under his father’s British citizenship.
UK law states that, if a child was born before July 2006, the father’s British nationality will normally only automatically pass to the child if he was married to the mother at the time of the birth.
Applications will usually be accepted if the child would have automatically been a citizen if their parents had been married.
But Mr Ridge has now been left in limbo because he had no idea that his right to citizenship was not automatic.
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.
Despite six years working here, being educated here and even passing his driving test here, he has now been told by the Home Office that he is not a British citizen
Above with brother Liam, mother Sue Ebbs and older brother Connor. He says he’s worried about his half-siblings, as his mother is not married to their father
‘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.
‘I’ve had my car for five months and before that, I had a provisional licence since I was 17.
‘Nothing has ever flagged up that I don’t have British citizenship until I went to apply for a passport last year to go on holiday with my girlfriend and my application was declined.’
Mr Ridge, who was educated in the UK, and did his GCSEs here, shown right, has been left totally perplexed by the letter
His girlfriend Jodie, pictured with him and little brother Liam, five, is furious about the letter. Mr Ridge is worried he will have to leave the country
Mr Ridge successfully applied for and holds an Australian passport, which he was granted after he tried to get a British passport but was turned down.
He has travelled abroad with it, but had to have a temporary solution for returning to the UK with it when he got home, which he negotiated with the passport office in Liverpool. He says he had no idea until this letter that he was not classed as a British citizen.
The 21-year-old now has to apply for Right of Abode, as a person born after July 2006 and to a British father.
The letter he received declares that the Home Office is working with the DVLA, NHS and banks to ‘stop access to benefits and services for those with no lawful basis to be in the UK’ – before writing bluntly: ‘This includes you.’
The law on citizenship in Britain
Currently, if you were born in the UK, you will be a citizen if your mother or father was either: a British citizen when you were born; or ‘settled’ in the UK when you were born.
But, if you were born before July 2006, your father’s British nationality will normally only pass to you if he was married to your mother at the time of your birth.
It meant that if your parents weren’t married, you must apply to register as a British citizen.
Applications will usually be accepted if you would have automatically been a citizen had your parents been married.
It also states that his driving licence will be revoked and that he must stop driving immediately.
Mr Ridge said: ‘I applied for an Australian passport and was accepted because my mum was born there, despite both her parents being British, and therefore she has dual citizenship.
‘I went to apply for right of abode myself after receiving this letter and was told by the Home Office that I need to apply for British citizenship first before I can do that.
‘I just don’t understand how they’ve just got through to me now.
‘I even have a birth certificate with my dad’s signature on it – he’s British.
‘If I cannot get dual citizenship or right of abode, or if this isn’t a mistake, I don’t know what I’ll do.’
Mr Ridge is now facing a waiting game after appealing the decision but is living in constant fear that tomorrow may be his last day living with his family.
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.
Mr Ridge with his mother, Sue, who was born in Australia, and has held dual citizenship with the UK. He has been able to get an Australian passport but not a British one
‘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 my 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.’
A Home Office spokesman told the MailOnline it has been in constant contact with Mr Ridge to offer advice and hopes the issue will be resolved soon.