Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Good Character and Application for Naturalisation

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) recently announced a change to the way it assesses assess the ‘good character’ requirement for naturalisation applications.
Listed hereunder are few of the considerations the UKBA will take into account when assessing the ‘Good Character’ requirement in naturalisation applications to become a British citizen:

Criminal Convictions

No longer will criminal convictions be considered ‘spent’ but instead they will be evaluated according to a ‘sentence based threshold’ as follows:

  • Sentence of 4 years or more imprisonment - your application will be refused, regardless of when the conviction occurred;
  • Between 12 months and 4 years imprisonment - your application will be refused unless 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence;
  • Up to 12 months imprisonment in the last 7 years - your application will be refused unless 7 years have passed since the end of the sentence;
  • A non-custodial offence - applications will be refused if the conviction occurred in the last 3 years.
Unpaid fines and notices

If it has been referred to a court due to non-payment where the court orders the fine to be paid are treated as a conviction and will be assessed by the UKBA against the sentencing threshold for a non-custodial offence. For example, where an individual has been ordered to pay a court fine of £100, they will have to wait for 3 years from the date of the conviction to be able to make an application for naturalisation as a British citizen. This includes unpaid TV licence fines etc.
A police caution

This will be assessed against the non-custodial sentencing threshold.

Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)

The breach of an ASBO is considered as a criminal offence.

Fixed penalty notices

Depending on how many you have and how recently you have received them, the UKBA might view them as an indication that you are not in fact of good character.

Finances and dealings with HMRC

The UKBA can make checks to ascertain that all of your financial liabilities are up to date and are current. Particularly if you are self-employed, the UKBA will want to see evidence that you are paying your taxes! If you are behind on your payments, or have not made any payments at all, the UKBA can view this as an indication that you are not of ‘Good Character’.

Council Tax

The UKBA will make checks to ensure that your Council Tax is up to date and whether you have kept your Council informed of the number of people living in your property and that you are paying the correct amount of Council Tax.

If you are in doubt of your circumstance or how this changes will affect you consult a Legal Representative today for further information on how to avoid falling foul of these new changes.