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.
Schedule 1, paragraph 1(2)(a) of the British Nationality Act 1981 states that any applicant must be in the United Kingdom for a period of 5 years prior to the date of the application (the five year rule).
The aim of the five-year rule is to ensure that an applicant for citizenship has a clear, strong connection with the UK evidenced by presence in the UK.
This means that an applicant can only be absent for a certain amount of days prior to the application to be eligible.
Under the British Nationality Act 1981, it is mandatory that all applicants must satisfy the good character requirement. We have previously covered another case focused on naturalisation, click here.
R (on the application of Amin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department
In the case of R (on the application of Amin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD), the Claimant brought judicial review proceedings against the decision of the SSHD to refuse the Claimant’s naturalisation application on ‘good character’ grounds.
The SSHD refused the Claimant’s application as the Claimant was associated with members of an extremist organisation or people with extremist views. The SSHD considered that there was nothing to suggest that the Claimant was unaware of their views or that he himself did not share those views.
The SSHD did not believe that sufficient time had passed so that previous associations could be disregarded, and no evidence was provided showing that he did not share those views. The Claimant was simply distancing himself from the individuals.
The Judicial Review was dismissed, and the Claimant appealed the decision.
The Claimant argued that the decision refusing the application was irrational or had involved overlooking or ignoring a relevant factor.
The Claimant argued that although a person’s past might provide a helpful indication of whether the person was currently of good character, the following should also be considered:
- the passage of time since the associations had ended
- his new family
- an incorrect assumption that he shared the views of the people he had previously associated with.
The Court held that there was nothing to indicate any irrationality or unlawfulness in the way the Secretary of State for the Home Department had considered the Claimant’s application for naturalisation had taken place.
Home Secretary’s concerns about Claimant’s good character
The Secretary of State has concerns about the Claimant’s good character arising from his association over many years with a person who was a leader of an organisation with extreme views. No evidence was provided by the Claimant that these connections had ended.
Accordingly, the decision made to refuse the application was based on the material before her and therefore the decision for the Secretary of State for the Home department to refuse the Claimant’s application on good character grounds was not an irrational conclusion.
The Claimant’s appeal was therefore dismissed.
The case shows the importance of ensuring that an application is well prepared and furnished with substantive evidence. If there are issues in the past, which are no longer present, evidence must be shown clearly showing the same.
In this case, the claimant failed to provide evidence that their connections with the leader of an organisation with extreme views had ended. As a result, it is perhaps not surprising that the Home Secretary refused the application.
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