On 30 September 2020, the Home Office updated its guidance on the good character requirement for British citizenship applications through naturalisation under Section 6 of the British Nationality Act 1981. The updated guidance further expands on the good character requirement making it harder for EU nationals to submit successful applications. The Home Office will now look for an Applicants’s immigration history for the last 10 years ensuring they had lawful status in the UK throughout that period.
What does it mean to hold British citizenship?
If you are a British citizen you have legal status as a subject of the United Kingdom under the British Nationality Act 1981. You can live and work in the UK without any restrictions and you are free of immigration control. British subjects are free to vote and use the welfare system.
How can EU nationals apply for British citizenship?
EU nationals can apply for British citizenship through a process called naturalisation. A naturalisation application must be submitted in accordance with the provisions of Section 6 of the British Nationality Act 1981. If you wish to apply for British citizenship as an EU national you must meet the following requirements:
- Applicants must hold EEA Permanent Status or EEA Settled Status;
- Applicants must be of sound mind and have good character (see below);
- Applicants must intend on making the UK their main place of home and should be able to show some personal ties and connections to the UK;
- Applicants must have sufficient knowledge of English Language & Sufficient knowledge of life in the UK; and
- Applicants must meet the residency requirements and must not have absences from the UK exceeding 450 days in the qualifying period.
The key to submitting a successful British citizenship application is to understand what the requirements are and what documents you must submit in support of your application. If you fail to meet any of the requirements or provide the mandatory documents your application will be automatically refused.
What is the good character requirement in British citizenship applications?
The good character requirement is not defined in the British Nationality Act 1981 and there is no statutory guidance for its interpretation for British Citizenship applications. In general, it means respecting the rights and freedoms of the UK, observing the law, and fulfilling their duties and obligations as a resident of the UK.
Changes to the good character requirement in British citizenship?
The changes to the good character requirement will directly impact EU nationals. The updated policy guidance states:
“In assessing whether a person has complied with immigration requirements over the previous 10 years, you must take into account whether they were subject to the EEA Regulations 2016 or the Immigration Act 1971 and whether they complied with the relevant requirements. Where an individual has not complied with conditions imposed under the Immigration Acts (for example by overstaying) and has subsequently acquired EEA rights, you must still consider the breaches of the other Immigration Acts”.
To simply, the updated guidance asks caseworkers to examine the immigration status of EU national Applicants for the 10-year period preceding the date of the naturalisation application. Therefore, if there were any periods where Applicants did not hold the correct status prior to the 10-year period before the application it is likely their application would be refused. Unfortunately, acquiring EEA Permanent Status or EEA Settled Status under the EUSS does not fix any period of unlawful residence in the 10-year period, as both of these applications do not confirm whether a person complied with the immigration requirements for the 10-year period.
Requirement to disclose criminal past in British citizenship applications?
Applicants who fail to disclose material information required, as part of their British citizenship application, would be refused on good character grounds and all future applications will be refused for the next 10 years.
Applicants must disclose all criminal convictions within and outside the UK including non-custodial sentences, out of court disposals (e.g. fines, caution, community sentences) pending prosecutions, dishonesty (e.g. failure to disclose convictions) and breach of immigration rules in a British Nationality Application. However there is an exception, if an applicant has unintentionally failed to disclose a material fact they will not be put on a 10-year ban. The onus is on the Applicant to prove it was a genuine error or misunderstanding.
The Home Office is also likely to refuse British citizenship applications where deception was used in a previous application in the 10-year period before the British citizenship application. Applicants often mistakenly submit their applications thinking the 10-year period starts from the date of the offence but in reality the 10-year period starts from when the offence was discovered. This could be hugely problematic as in most cases the deception is discovered years after it took place resulting in Applicant not being illegible to apply for British citizenship. However, with the correct legal representation it may be possible to submit an application where there are issues with deception in previous applications.
How our immigration solicitors can help with British citizenship applications?
Our immigration solicitors in London specialise in British citizenship applications and prepare applications to the highest standard. We have an impeccable track history of submitting successful British citizenship applications for a range of different clients. The key to submitting successful applications is being aware of the relevant Immigration Rules. Our immigration solicitors in London guide Applicants through the requirements and prepare detailed legal submissions in support of the application. In addition to the legal representations, our team of solicitors also provides multiple substantial reviews of the application bundle to ensure that the correct documentary evidence is submitted. We also prepare and assist with the submission of the application.
Using Legal Representation to submit British citizenship applications
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration matter. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully assist you with British citizenship applications. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the Immigration Rules for British citizenship applications.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications, which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds and meets the requirements, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence in support of your application. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your British Citizenship application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful British citizenship applications
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your British citizenship application and the merit of an application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice, and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful visa applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss the new UK visa application.