Family in German passort row

A COUPLE have criticised the Home Office after being told their fourth, Ipswich-born son is German.Neil Bickers and Amanda Jaeger where stunned when they were told their son Lewis would have to have a German passport, despite him being born in Ipswich Hospital.

A COUPLE have criticised the Home Office after being told their fourth, Ipswich-born son is German.

Neil Bickers and Amanda Jaeger where stunned when they were told their son Lewis would have to have a German passport, despite him being born in Ipswich Hospital.

Miss Jaeger, 29, who spent the first two weeks of her life in Germany but has lived in Britain ever since, has three children who are classed as British citizens.

However, a change in UK law, and the fact the couple are not married, meant Lewis, now two years old, had to adopt the nationality where his mother was born.


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Miss Jaeger was born in Paderborn, Germany, so Lewis is now classed as German with a German passport.

She said: "The passport law has changed and I think it is ridiculous. I have been in England since I was two weeks old. Lewis has never been to Germany and will probably never go.

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"It really upset me and was totally unnecessary to divide my family up. How do you explain why three of my boys are British citizens and one is German?"

The problems started when the family was planning to go to Atlanta last June for a two-week holiday.

The couple applied for Lewis's passport six weeks before travelling, but a week ahead of their holiday were told he could not have a British passport. It meant they had to go to the German Embassy in London to make him a German citizen before they could go to America.

Miss Jaeger, who lives with her partner in Coronation Road, Ipswich, said it felt like they had committed a crime by getting British passports for the other three boys, aged eight, six and five.

"When I was told, I thought I was breaking the law. The bureaucracy feels like we have been committing a crime.

"I pay my National Insurance and claim British benefits but I cannot get British nationality for my child."

Emma Jennions, an information officer for the Home Office, said: "Since October 2, 2000, a child being born in the UK will not automatically be a British citizen if born out of wedlock.

"We are very sorry there was no notification up to a week before the holiday.

"On straightforward passport applications we aim to take a month to process them but as the child was not confirmed as British then it was not straightforward."

The couple plan to marry next summer, having got engaged on their trip to Atlanta. They would then be able to apply to get Lewis a British passport and he would then have a duel nationality.

In February, Mary Martin, who lives in Trimley St Mary, was nearly deported because of the change in the law when immigration officials discovered she was an American citizen despite living in England for 54 of her 56 years.

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GRANDMOTHER Mary Martin, who was threatened with deportation after immigration officials discovered she was American, has today at last got her passport – but it's not a British one.

Miss Martin has been issued with a document saying she has a right to remain in the UK, but her passport is American.

"Apparently it will cost me £150 to have the papers saying I am a completely naturalised UK citizen, even though I have lived here 54 years, and a UK passport," she said.

"I cannot afford that sort of money. I have already spent £1,000 in fees and expenses fighting my case to stay and I only earn £300 a month.

"But at least I do have a passport now – an American one and a green card. I have no plans to visit America though unless I manage to track down some members of my family."

The Home Office threatened to evict Miss Martin, 55, of Carriage Close, Trimley St Mary, after it was discovered she had been born in America, even though she moved to the UK as a toddler when her parents split up.

But thanks to pressure from government ministers and Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer she won her battle to stay.

"I would love to trace my family in the States and find out if my father is alive. I don't feel whole – it's as if a part of me is missing, that there is a side to my life that I just don't know about," she said.

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