Home Office Guidance update: good character in British nationality applications

The Home Office amended its nationality guidance on the good character requirement to reflect changes made to the lawful residence rules that took effect on June 28, 2022. Section 9 and Schedule 1 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 added the requirements into the British Nationality Act 1981. (and by section 12 with additional regard to refugees).

In accordance with the new modifications, a person who has been granted indefinite leave to remain may be regarded as having satisfied the criterion for legal residency during the five-year qualifying term without additional investigation.

In accordance with this modification, illegal entry, overstaying, and fleeing may also be disregarded when determining whether a person met the criteria for good character over the applicable 10-year period. But only after each of the subsequent conditions are met.

  • The individual is applying for naturalisation as a British citizen, or registration under s.4(2), 6(1) or 6(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 after 28 June 2022;
  • The person holds indefinite leave to enter or remain; and
  • No concerns (for example relating to their character) have arisen since the grant of indefinite leave that might cast doubt on the decision.

Other changes to the guidance

A section on travel bans has been introduced, presumably in light of ever-changing international tension. Under section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971 a person who is the subject of a travel ban must be refused entry clearance and if the individual is already in the country, any permission they have must be cancelled. A person who is the subject of a travel ban will not normally be of good character.

The guidance states that a fine imposed under the coronavirus regulations counts as a fixed penalty notice.  

And finally, there is clarification that “pending prosecutions” includes where a person is under investigation but has not yet been charged with an offence. Citizenship will not normally be granted to a person who has a pending prosecution, and the application will remain on hold (unless there are other grounds to refuse the application straight away).

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