A person can apply for naturalisation and become a British citizen if they satisfy all the requirements. Some of these requirements include suitability requirements, eligibility requirements and passing the Life in the UK test.


If you are looking to apply for British citizenship, new changes to the good character requirement guidance mean that you can now apply even if you have previously overstayed. Contact us now, Mahfuz and his team will be more than happy to help!


Under the British Nationality Act 1981, it is mandatory that all applicants must satisfy the good character requirement.


Factors that usually breach the good character requirement would be if you have previously entered the UK illegally, overstayed your visa, or breached the Immigration Rules. The Home Office will look at any breaches dating as far back as 10 years prior to the citizenship application. As a result, in the past this requirement has prevented a number of people from being able to obtain British Citizenship.


This meant that lots of people who had permanent residence in the UK often found it difficult to apply for British Citizenship. In those 10 years if person has overstayed, entered illegally etc they would fail their British citizenship application.


Good character guidance updated for Nationality and Borders Act 2022


However, the Home Office has updated its guidance on good character requirement to adhere to the changes made in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022.


The changes now state that where a person has committed previous breaches of the Immigration Rules such us illegal entry, overstaying and absconding, these breaches may be disregarded in consideration of an applicant’s good character provided that all the following apply:


  • The person is applying for naturalisation as a British Citizen or registration after 28th June 2022
  • That person holds Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • There are no concerns regarding the persons character which have arisen following the grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain


Accordingly, from 28th June 2022, all with indefinite leave to remain (ILR) will be able to make an application for naturalisation without concern of their previous breaches of immigration rules.


Our comments


We welcome this much needed change to the immigration rules. We believe it was very harsh that periods of overstaying that happened for a very short period, many years ago, has prevented people in obtaining British citizenship. There are those who entered the UK illegally to flee danger and were subsequently granted refugee status who have also been unable to obtain citizenship.


With the UK government seeking to prioritise growth during a time of economic turbulence, they are reportedly planning to loosen immigration controls and increase the numbers of workers entering the UK. The latest relaxation of the good character guidance seemingly forms part of their plan to ensure that the UK is able to retain immigrants.


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