When applying to naturalise or register as a British citizen, adults and children aged ten or over must meet what is known as ‘the good character’ requirement. Associate Ruth Jowett continues her examination of this area of law.
Previously, we considered criminality in the ‘good character’ requirement and in the same article, provided an overview of this requirement.
Immigration related matters
The Home Office may (and has increasingly began to) refuse applications for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen on the basis of the applicant’s immigration history and conduct. The Home Office’s guidance provides detailed information.
This states that applications for naturalisation as a British citizen should be refused if:
- the applicant is the subject of an extant deportation order;
- there are grounds for believing that the applicant is currently, or has previously, been involved in an attempt
to assist someone in the evasion of immigration control; or
- there is reliable evidence to suggest the applicant has hired or is currently hiring illegal workers.
It also confirms that applications will usually be refused where, in the ten years leading up to the application being made, the applicant:
- entered or attempted to enter into a sham marriage or civil partnership, or a marriage or civil partnership
- abused the English language or Knowledge of Life in the UK test requirement;
- knowingly or recklessly made a false statement in an application;
- was involved in deception as a referee;
- did not comply with the conditions of their leave (these must be validly imposed);
- entered the UK illegally; or
- evaded immigration control.
There are few exceptions to the above, but it is always possible for the Home Office to exercise discretion when considering immigration history and conduct. For example, should an applicant have overstayed their leave during the ten years prior to submitting their citizenship application, this should not, in all cases, lead to refusal where it is the only factor which would suggest the applicant is not of good character. In order for this discretion to be applied, the following must be met:
- the person’s application for leave to remain was made before 24 November 2016 and within 28 days of the expiry of their previous leave, or
- the person’s application for leave to remain was made on or after 24 November 2016, and the application did not fall for refusal on the grounds of overstaying because an exception under paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules applied, or
- the period without leave was not the fault of the applicant, for example where it arose from a Home Office decision to refuse which is subsequently withdrawn or quashed or which the courts have required the Home Office to reconsider.
With regard to illegal entry to the UK, article 31 of the Refugee Convention sets out that penalties should not be imposed on refugees on account of their illegal entry to a country, so long as they present themselves to the authorities without delay, and are able to show good cause for their illegal entry.
As a contracting state to the Refugee Convention the UK must act in accordance with this requirement. The Home Office guidance on the Good Character Requirement does make reference to this commitment.
Deception and dishonesty
The decision-maker will consider any deception or dishonesty in the applicant’s application for naturalisation or any of their previous immigration applications.
This includes providing false information or submitting false evidence. Whether or not the deception was relevant to the grant of leave from the previous application is in fact irrelevant. An event of deception will have an impact upon an application for ten years from the date it occurred.
How we can help
Our immigration experts are able to provide advice and guidance in relation to naturalisation and registration applications. If you are interested in making an application, and are concerned about your immigration history and conduct or any other matter, our team would be delighted to assist. Please contact us or complete the enquiry form below.