Regardless of the route taken to get British citizenship, every applicant will have to satisfy the ‘good character’ requirement.
According to immigration experts Sable International, the test is used by British officials to assess your character and determine whether you could be conducive to the public good in the UK.
While there are some obvious reasons for applications being refused, there are also minor breaches that could result in an application being red flagged and possibly denied. It is the latter that you need to be more concerned with, it said.
“The good character test is a mandatory requirement that anyone over the age of 10 who is applying for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen needs to meet. If you fail to meet the requirements of the test, your application for citizenship will be refused,” it said.
“All applicants are assessed based on criteria set out in the UK government’s national policy guidance. Home Office officials use this guidance to assess each nationality application and determine whether the individual meets the good character requirement.”
Sable said that one of the most important facets of this requirement is that you answer all questions in the application process honestly and in full.
“You will also have to declare any involvement in anything which might indicate that you are not of good character. All criminal convictions both within and outside of the UK must be declared, no matter how long ago it was and however minor they may be,” it said.
Sable added that officials will conduct verification checks on your responses. As a result, concealment of information or lack of honesty is classified as deception and is grounds for the refusal of an application. This is true no matter how minor the infraction you have tried to conceal is, it said.
Types of offences
Sable said that the good character requirement goes beyond the scope of simply being free from criminal convictions.
It highlighted some of the most likely categories that could put your application at risk:
- Traffic offences
- Financial soundness
- Immigration-related issues
- Public order
“Fines and notices that have been referred to a court due to non-payment will be treated as conviction. So be sure to settle any fines you receive before you are summoned to pay them,” Sable said.
“Even where a person has not received a fine within the last three years, the decision maker may still conclude that a person is not of good character. Reason to refuse an application is quite strong in cases where a person has committed multiple offenses of this kind, as it shows a pattern of offending.”
“You need to ensure all of your financial affairs (in the UK and abroad) are in order before you begin the application process. This includes any tax or financial issues such as bankruptcy, liquidation or debt.”
“As part of your application for citizenship, you authorise the Home Office to conduct verification checks which include credit checks, should the Home Office deem it necessary. It is therefore vital that you disclose all infringements, regardless of when they occurred,” Sable said.
It added that an application will not normally be refused because the person is in debt, especially if loan repayments have been made as agreed or if acceptable efforts are being made to pay off accumulated debts.
However, where a person deliberately and recklessly builds up debts and there is no evidence of a serious intention to pay them off, Home Office will normally refuse the application, it said.
“Similarly, Home Office will determine whether the person was reckless or irresponsible in their financial affairs leading to their bankruptcy or their company’s liquidation. If so, it is likely to be reflected by a disqualification being obtained.”
“This includes minor or major breaches of immigration law, such as overstaying your visa (even by a short period) or working when your visa did not permit you to.
“If within the 10 years preceding the application, an individual has not been compliant with immigration requirements, the Home Office will normally refuse that person’s application.”
An application will normally be refused if there is evidence that suggests a person has made themselves notorious in the local or wider community, said Sable.
“This will be determined on the scale and persistence of their behaviour. This does not need to be politically-related. A person that is a known football hooligan could also be regarded as a public order risk.”