How To Get British Citizenship Through Naturalisation

How To Get British Citizenship Through Naturalisation

Obtaining British Citizenship is a long-held dream for many people. Our Birmingham and London based Immigration Solicitors take great pride in helping our clients achieve their dream. For most people, once they have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Settled Status (SS), obtaining British Citizenship is straightforward. However, a sizable number of citizenship applications are refused.

In this article, we discuss the eligibility requirements for British Citizenship and look in detail at some of the common reasons for refusal, many of which fall under the ‘good character’ requirement.

How do I apply for British Citizenship?

To be eligible to apply for British Citizenship via naturalisation, you must show you:

  • are 18 years or older
  • have had ILR or SS for at least one year
  • have passed the English language test (if required) and the Life In The UK test
  • intend to live permanently in the UK
  • be of good character

There is also a requirement of ‘continuous residence’ which means you should not have:

  • spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the relevant five-year period
  • spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months

If you have had leave to remain in the UK under a business immigration route such as the Skilled Worker Visa, Investor Visa, or Innovator Visa it is imperative that you work with an Immigration Solicitor throughout the visa period to ensure you receive the best advice on meeting the ‘continuous residency’ requirements should you have to frequently travel for business.

What is meant by ‘good character’?

Although the British Nationality Act 1981 does not define ‘good character’, the immigration guidance states that any of the following indicates a lack of good character:

  • conviction of a crime or being suspected of participating in a crime
  • connection or participation in war crimes
  • financial issues, such as not paying taxes and/or bankruptcy
  • notorious activities
  • dishonest or deceptive conduct towards the UK government
  • being denied citizenship in the past
  • aiding someone with avoiding immigration control
  • any other suggestions that would cast doubts on an applicant’s character

The guidance asserts:

“Each application must be carefully considered on an individual basis on its own merits. You must be satisfied that an applicant is of good character on the balance of probabilities. To facilitate this, applicants must answer all questions asked of them during the application process honestly and in full. They must also inform the Home Office of any significant event (such as a criminal conviction or a pending prosecution) or any mitigating factors that could have a bearing on the good character assessment.”

If you have a criminal record you will normally be denied citizenship if you have been sentenced to four or more years for a crime, regardless of how long ago the offence was committed. You are also unlikely to be granted citizenship if you have committed a sexual offence or an offence that has caused serious harm, and /or you are a persistent offender.

Applicants must declare any fines they have received as they count as a criminal conviction. Failure to mention that you have received a fine could result in your British Citizenship application being refused on the grounds of deception.

What is meant by notoriety?

A person is notorious if they have become well-known for bad behaviour or qualities and/or immoral deeds. For example, Imelda Marcos gained notoriety for her extravagance whilst the people of the Philippines experienced terrible poverty.

The guidance provides other examples of notorious behaviour, including:

  • publicly expressing unsavoury views on a subject such as race, religion or sexuality which do not fall within the definition of extremism
  • persistent anti-social behaviour such as public drug use or excessive noise pollution
  • persistently and deliberately flouting the law
What is dishonesty or deceit against Her Majesty’s government?

If you have been dishonest or deceptive in your dealings with a government department there is a high chance you will be refused British Citizenship. Dishonest or deceptive behaviour could include:

  • fraudulently claiming benefits
  • using false documentation or deception to access housing or healthcare
  • providing misleading or false information to UK Visas and Immigration

If you made a genuine mistake and there was no intention to mislead officials, your application will not be refused on the grounds of dishonesty or deceit. However, it can be difficult to prove a lack of intention.

How an Immigration Solicitor can help

The best way to ensure your British Citizenship application is processed smoothly and successfully is to instruct an immigration lawyer. If you are concerned that you may not meet the ‘good character’ requirement, an Immigration Solicitor, who will know how immigration caseworkers make their decisions, will examine your situation and advise you on how to best prepare your application.

Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors to discuss how we can help you with your British Citizenship application or refusal.

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