Good Character Requirement for Naturalisation

by | Mar 28, 2023 | British Citizenship, Naturalisation, UK Immigration

The Good Character Requirement is essential to the British citizenship application process. Applicants must demonstrate their good character before being granted citizenship. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the requirements that must be met to satisfy the Good Character Requirement.

What is the Good Character Requirement?

The British Nationality Act 1981 does not offer a specific definition of what constitutes good character, meaning that each application is evaluated individually. When necessary, the relevant balance of probabilities test will be applied. Consequently, it is crucial for applicants to thoughtfully consider what information to include in their application to demonstrate that they meet this requirement.

Home Office Good Character Guidance

The Home Office published Version 3.0 of the Nationality: good character requirement on 08 September 2022. This document provides detailed instructions to caseworkers on how to apply the requirement. All applicants are advised to carefully read this guide to ensure they accurately complete the application form and provide all relevant documentation. The guidance applies to applications for registration and naturalisation from those
who are aged 10 or over at the time the application is made.

Typically, some of the following key areas will be assessed and taken into account:

Criminality

While having a criminal record may not automatically result in a refused application, an applicant who has demonstrated a lack of respect for the law or an unwillingness to comply with it is unlikely to meet the good character requirement. An application is likely to be refused if the applicant has:

  • a criminal conviction that meets the sentence-based thresholds
  • a history of persistent offending
  • committed a serious offence that has caused significant harm
  • been convicted of a sexual offence or is on a police register for such offences.

The consequence of different types of sentences on an immigration application is as follows:

  • Imprisonment of 4 years or more: application likely to be refused regardless of when the sentence was given
  • Imprisonment between 12 months and 4 years: application likely to be refused unless the sentence ended more than 15 years ago
  • Imprisonment of up to 12 months: application likely to be refused unless the sentence ended more than 10 years ago
  • Non-custodial sentence or other criminal record: application likely to be refused unless the conviction is more than 3 years old.

Financial soundness

The Financial Soundness section of the Good Character Requirement outlines that an applicant must show that their financial affairs have been in an appropriate order. This means they must have paid their taxes and not accrued significant debt.

An applicant who has failed to pay taxes for which they were liable or who has accrued significant debt is unlikely to be considered of good character. An application will not normally be refused simply because the person is in debt, especially if loan repayments have been made as agreed or if acceptable efforts are being made to pay off accumulated debts. However, where a person deliberately and recklessly builds up debts, and there is no evidence of a serious intention to pay them off, the application will normally be refused.

The guidance notes that the onus is on the applicant to provide evidence of their financial soundness and that the Home Office may request additional information or seek clarification if necessary.

For advice or assistance with your British citizenship application from an experienced immigration adviser, contact our team on +442087575751 or use our contact form.

Deception and dishonesty

An application is usually rejected only if the applicant has deliberately lied or hidden information about their application, whether on the application form or during investigations. This includes situations where the applicant has knowingly provided false personal information such as name, date of birth, or nationality.

The guidance stipulates that an application may be refused if there is evidence that the applicant has employed deception during the citizenship application process or in any previous immigration application within the past 10 years, regardless of whether the deception was material to the granting of leave or not. Therefore, all information provided must be accurate and complete without any material facts being omitted.

It is worth noting that the 10-year period for assessing whether deception was employed will run from the date it is discovered or admitted rather than the date on which the deception was exercised. Therefore, any past immigration-related issues, no matter how minor, should be considered when making a nationality application, as individuals may have acquired their indefinite leave to remain or settled status in various ways.

Immigration-related matters

The guidance provides considerations relating to an individual’s immigration history that may result in the refusal of their citizenship application. These include being subject to a deportation order, entering or attempting to enter into a sham marriage or civil partnership, abuse of the English language or Knowledge of Life tests, making false statements, failure to pay litigation costs owed to the Home Office, non-compliance with immigration requirements, illegal entry into the UK, absconding from temporary admission or release, being involved in an attempt to assist someone in the evasion of immigration control, and illegal working.

What type of offence must be disclosed?

As part of the citizenship application process, disclosing any criminal convictions inside and outside the United Kingdom is mandatory. This includes road traffic offences, such as fixed penalty notices for speeding or parking, which generally may not affect the application unless criminal proceedings were initiated due to non-payment or if the individual has received multiple fixed penalty notices. Drink driving offences must also be declared. Additionally, a driving conviction may not be disregarded even if penalty points have been removed from the individual’s driving licence.

In addition to criminal convictions, details of civil judgments that have resulted in a court order being made against the applicant, civil penalties under the UK Immigration Acts, and bankruptcy proceedings must be disclosed. This includes cautions (simple or conditional) and warnings or reprimands received in the UK or any other country.

Furthermore, it is expected that individuals disclose if they have been subject to any notification order, sexual offences prevention order, foreign travel order, or risk of sexual harm order (or an equivalent order made in a British overseas territory or any other country).

Applicants must disclose if there is any offence for which they may go to court or which is awaiting a hearing in court.

What to do if you are doubtful?

If an applicant fails to disclose any outstanding charges or convictions, regardless of their severity, the Home Office will typically reject the application. Moreover, any future citizenship applications made within 10 years from the date of the refusal would be more likely to be denied on these grounds unless the failure to disclose was accidental and pertained to a one-time non-custodial sentence or an out-of-court settlement.

  • Disclose all relevant information: Applicants should disclose all relevant information, such as any criminal convictions or immigration breaches, to the Home Office.
  • Provide supporting documents: Applicants should provide any supporting documents that demonstrate their good character, such as character references or evidence of community involvement.
  • Seek legal advice: Applicants concerned about their good character may seek legal advice from an immigration adviser.

How can we help?

Our team understands the importance of accuracy and full disclosure in your application, and we will work closely with you to ensure that all necessary information is provided. With our expertise and guidance, you can increase your chances of success and avoid any unnecessary delays or complications in the application process.

Contact us today to discuss and learn more about how we can help you with your UK nationality application.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Good Character Requirement?

The Good Character Requirement is a crucial element of many immigration applications, including those for naturalisation and British citizenship. It assesses an applicant’s character, conduct, and associations to determine whether they are suitable for citizenship in the UK. Failure to meet the Good Character Requirement can result in the refusal of an application, even if all other requirements are met.

What kind of information is required for the Good Character Requirement?

The information required for the Good Character Requirement can vary depending on an individual’s circumstances. However, it generally includes disclosing criminal convictions, civil judgments, and any involvement in terrorism or actions that may constitute genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. Applicants may also need to disclose cautions, warnings, or reprimands, as well as any previous instances of deception or lack of frankness in previous immigration applications. It is important to provide accurate and complete information as it can result in a refusal of the application.

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