Being of 'Good Character'

According to the British Nationality Act who wishes to apply for Naturalisation will need to demonstrate to be of 'good character'. Specifically, Paragraph 1.2 of Annex D to Chapter 18 states as follows:

There is no definition of 'good character' in the British Nationality Act 1981 ('the BNA 1981') and therefore no statutory guidance as to how this should be interpreted or applied.

The Secretary of State must be satisfied that an application 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) that could have a bearing on the good character assessment.

According to the Home Office guidance, the applicant must have shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the UK, observed its laws and fulfilled his duties and obligations as a resident of the UK. The Home Office will carry out the pertinent checks in all cases in order to verify the information provided in the application form. In case of deception or fraudulent information the applicant will be liable to prosecution and deprivation of British citizenship.

Where the applicant has been convicted in the UK or overseas, within the relevant sentence based threshold his citizenship is unlikely to be granted and the fee would not be fully refunded. Equally, if the applicant is awaiting trial or sentencing, it is highly advisable not to make any application for naturalisation until the outcome is known.

The Home Office guidance classifies the convictions as follows:

  • 4 years or more of imprisonment (including life imprisonment): application will normally be refused regardless of when the conviction occurred
  • Between 12 months and 4 years of imprisonment: application will normally be refused unless 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence
  • Up to 12 months imprisonment: applications will normally be refused unless 10 years have passed since the end of the sentence
  • A non-custodial offence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on a person’s criminal record: Application will normally be refused if the conviction occurred in the last 3 years

Furthermore, the application will be refused if the applicant has attempted to deceive the Home Office within the last 10 years. Ultimately, the application may also fail in case of illegal entry, evading immigration control, abusing of the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirement, as well as in case of cooperation with someone else in the evasion of immigration control or employing illegal workers