Home Office changes immigration rules on receiving citizenship in case of long-term prison sentence

Serious criminals will be barred from claiming British citizenship under tough new rules that came into force on Monday (31 July).

Changes to the so-called ‘good character’ requirement of citizenship applications will see “stricter and more specific rules” applied to anyone who has received a 12-month prison sentence.

The changes remove the previous rules where some criminals could be granted British citizenship after a certain number of years had passed since the end of their sentence – regardless of the type of crime or where it was committed.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “British citizenship is a privilege. Those who commit crimes shouldn’t be able to enjoy the breadth of rights citizenship brings, including holding a British passport, voting and accessing free medical care from the NHS.

Under the current immigration rules, an attempt to gain British citizenship will normally be refused if an individual has received a four-year jail term.

“The updated rules are stricter and more specific on so-called ‘good character’ requirements, which are a key condition to be granted British citizenship, and look at whether an individual has observed UK law as well as shown respect for the rights and freedoms of British citizens,” said the Home Office.

The requirements include factors such as criminal convictions, immigration offending and serious behaviour, such as war crimes, terrorism or genocide.

There will be some exceptions to the new rules, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, for example if someone has mitigating circumstances that support an exceptional grant.

Cases of mitigating circumstances shall include someone who committed a minor offence a long time ago but has made sufficient, positive changes that they are now considered to be of good character.

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