When applying to naturalise or register as a British citizen, applicants are required to provide two referees who can help prove and verify their identity. Here, we explore the rules surrounding this requirement.
Who can be a referee for a British citizenship application?
The relevant guidance provides that referees relied on in a British citizenship application must:
- have known the (adult) applicant for at least three years; and
- be a British passport holder and either a professional person or aged over 25 (at least one referee must be a professional person).
In addition to the above, the referees must not:
- be related to the applicant or the other referee;
- be the applicant’s representative;
- be employed by the Home Office; or
- have been convicted of an imprisonable offence in the last ten years for which the sentence is not spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
At least one referee must be a person of professional standing. A full list of ‘acceptable professional persons’ is set out here. Examples include accountant, bank or building society professional, barrister, dentist, director of a VAT registered company, member of parliament, nurse, optician, police officer, social worker or solicitor. This referee can be of any nationality.
The second referee must be the holder of a British citizen passport and be over 25 years old, unless they are a person of professional standing.
Who can be a referee for child applications?
In respect of child applicants who are applying to register as a British citizen, at least one of the referees must be a person who has dealt with the child in a professional capacity. This includes teachers, social workers, doctors and health visitors.
If it is not possible to provide a referee who has dealt with the child in a professional capacity, but evidence is provided that demonstrates that attempts were made to do so, the Home Office can accept two referees who meet the criteria for referees on adult applications.
What does a referee need to provide?
Referees must provide their details and sign a declaration confirming that they are eligible to act as a referee and that the photograph is a true likeness of the applicant.
The details they must provide include:
- full name;
- date of birth;
- addresses for the last three years;
- telephone number;
- email address;
- passport number, if a British passport holder; and
- details of how they know the applicant.
Referees who provide false information, knowingly or recklessly, can face a fine of up to £5,000 or up to three months imprisonment.
What happens if the referees do not meet the requirements?
If a referee does not meet the above requirements, the guidance states that the Home Office caseworker must ask the applicant to provide a different referee. This would result in delays to the application and therefore applicants should ensure they only include details of referees that are eligible for their application.
As referees are required in order for an application to be successful, it is important that individuals wishing to apply for British citizenship first consider whether they are able to provide referees that meet the above requirements.
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