Applying for a British citizenship with a criminal convictions
Having a criminal record can be a potential barrier to being granted British citizenship as an application can be refused if you are deemed to have a “bad character”. However, it is possible to still qualify for citizenship, even if you do have a criminal history, as it depends on what offences have been committed and how long ago or if you received a suspended prison sentence.
You are advised to seek further advice from an immigration law specialist before making your application for British citizenship as this will potentially avoid any refusals or lengthy delays to your application.
Above all, it is vital to ensure that you declare all criminal convictions or arrests when applying for British citizenship and throughout the application process. Failure to declare convictions or criminal records could have long term implications in obtaining a British passport.
Should I still apply for British Citizenship with a criminal record?
It is important to note that not all applicants with criminal records are rejected for British citizenship. The Home Office looks at each case on a case-by-case basis when making a decision.
There are a number of factors that will be concerned including the nature of criminal convictions and an applicant’s good character. Therefore, someone with a criminal record can be granted British citizenship although some convictions will make it harder.
For example, it is unlikely you will be able to become a British citizen if you has committed a crime which caused serious harm or have committed a sexual offence and/or have been subject to a sexual harm order or sexual offences prevention order.
What criminal offences need to be declared when applying?
UK immigration law requires any British citizenship applicants to declare all convictions – this includes any convictions that may be spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. You must also declare any police cautions received or minor offences. Such offences must still be declared even if it was a long time ago or a certain period has elapsed.
Any convictions held or offences committed when the offender was under 16 still have to be declared – even if the conviction is declared as spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
All non-custodial sentences and out of court disposals such as a reprimand, conditional discharge, probation or a community sentence must be included on any British citizenship application. In addition all fines received within the last three years also need to be declared on British citizenship applications.
It is highly unlikely that a fixed penalty notice would cause a refusal of a British citizenship application. However, if you have failed to pay a fixed penalty notice which has then led to further legal proceedings then it could be seen as having a negative impact on your overall “good character”.
You should always ensure you declare any and all criminal offences as if the Home Office discover you failed to include relevant information it will likely result in an automatic refusal as well as have implications for any future applications.
British citizenship can also be revoked if any undeclared criminal offences come to light at a future date.
Overseas criminal offences and military proceedings
Anyone applying for a British citizenship must declare military convictions or any offence that involved a overseas conviction outside of the UK. As well as overseas convictions needing to be declared, all military convictions under court martial or part of any other military criminal proceedings while servicing in the military services must be included on your application.
However, Home Office guidance also means that UK immigration services will ignore any criminal record for a crime that is not regarded as an offence in the UK. This is particularly relevant for anyone in a same-sex relationship that may have been classed as a criminal offence under a different country’s laws.
Applying to become a British Citizen with repeat offences
One of the factors that the Home Office will consider when assessing a British citizenship application is the good character of the person applying – a history of persistent offending can undermine this.
Therefore, an application to become a British citizen is likely to be refused when assessing good character if they have any of the following:
- A long history of committing offences
- Offences that have increased in seriousness over a long period
- A significant number of offences committed in a short time
British citizenship having served a custodial sentence
There are a number of prison sentence-based offences that will lead to a citizenship application being refused including:
- a custodial or prison sentence of at least four years
- a custodial sentence of at least 12 months but less than four years unless a period of 15 years has passed since the end of the sentence
- a custodial sentence of less than 12 months unless a period of ten years has passed since the end of the sentence
- a non-custodial sentence or out-of-court disposal that is recorded which took place in the three years prior to the date of application for British citizenship.
Pending criminal charges
As well as any existing criminal convictions, you must still include details of any pending prosecutions when making your application for British citizenship – even if you have not been given a criminal conviction at the time of applying. Failure to declare pending prosecutions could lead to your application being rejected.
If you are unclear about which criminal convictions you should declare when applying for citizenship reach out to an immigration lawyer who can give you clear advice to avoid potential delays or refusal.
How can London Immigration Lawyers help?
Becoming a British citizen is a life-changing event that comes with many benefits, however, the application process isn’t easy and it can be incredibly difficult to navigate it alone, especially when your circumstances may not be straightforward.
Our immigration lawyers are experienced when it comes to assisting with British citizenship applications and criminal history. They know exactly what it takes for an application to be successful and can give you the best chance of success.
One of the most difficult aspects of the British citizenship application process is meeting the strict requirements. Our lawyers will help you to do this. We can advise you about whether you need to take an English language test, which test to take and how to book it. We can also help you to meet the other requirements, this includes helping you to prepare for the Life in the UK Test and assisting you with gathering a substantial portfolio of documents to support your application.
To find out more about how our lawyers can assist you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today by calling 020 4502 8582.
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Last modified on April 12th, 2023 at 7:04 am
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