Tougher Good Character Rules Criteria for UK Citizenship Applications 2023


Applying for citizenship with a criminal record just got harder in the Uk. According to the press release published on 30th July 2023. Home Secretary Suella Braverman, stated that “British citizenship is a privilege. 

Those who commit crimes shouldn’t be able to enjoy the breadth of rights citizenship brings, including holding a British passport, voting, and accessing free medical care from the NHS” 

Looking to immigrate to the United Kingdom? Whether as a skilled worker or student, we can help.

As part of its ongoing efforts to uphold the integrity of immigration processes and national security, the United Kingdom has recently introduced stricter “good character” requirements for individuals applying for British citizenship. 

The UK government believes that these new rules will make it harder for criminals to claim British citizenship irrespective of when or where the crime took place.

What is good character for UK citizenship application?

Good character, in the context of a UK citizenship application, refers to the moral and legal attributes an applicant must demonstrate to be deemed suitable for citizenship. It involves having a clean criminal record, adhering to the law, and displaying positive conduct within the community. 

Factors such as criminal convictions, involvement in illegal activities, and behaviors that pose a threat to public safety can all impact an applicant’s assessment of good character.

Previous rules for good character requirements for British citizenship until July 30, 2023

British citizenship application is normally refused if the applicant:

  • Has a criminal conviction that falls within the sentence-based thresholds
  • Is a persistent offender
  • Has committed an offense that has caused serious harm
  • Has committed a sexual offense or their details are recorded by the police on a register

Current sentence-based thresholds applicable until 30th July 2023

Normally, an applicant will be declined British Citizenship if they have:

  • Been given a prison sentence of at least 4 years.
  • Received a prison sentence lasting at least 12 months but less than 4 years, unless 15 years have passed since the sentence ended.
  • Served a prison sentence under 12 months, unless 10 years have passed since the sentence ended.
  • Been given a non-custodial sentence or an out-of-court resolution that is noted on their criminal record within 3 years before the application date.

New criteria for good character regarding criminal history for British citizenship starting July 31, 2023

Effective July 31, 2023, these changes target applicants with prison sentences lasting at least 12 months. The amendments address concerns about the previous system, which allowed some individuals with criminal records to obtain citizenship based solely on the passage of time since the end of their sentence, without considering the gravity of their offenses. 

The UK’s assessment of an individual’s ‘good character’ has transformed, recognizing the importance of ensuring prospective citizens adhere to the country’s values and principles. In the past, certain leniencies existed, enabling individuals with criminal records to become British citizens after a designated period following their prison release. 

With the implementation of the new laws, the UK government now conducts a more comprehensive evaluation to determine an applicant’s ‘good character’ for citizenship. The assessment encompasses several vital parameters:

➢ Length of Prison Sentence

Applicants with prison sentences lasting 12 months or more will face more thorough scrutiny during the citizenship application process.

➢ Adherence to UK Laws

The government examines whether the applicant has consistently followed the laws of the United Kingdom throughout their residency.

➢ Respect for British Citizens’ Rights and Freedom

An essential aspect of the assessment involves assessing whether the applicant respects the rights and freedoms of British citizens, promoting a harmonious and inclusive society.

Compliance with Immigration Laws

Any breaches of immigration laws are taken into consideration when evaluating an applicant’s eligibility for citizenship.

Criminal Convictions

The presence of any criminal convictions in an applicant’s record may impact their chances of receiving citizenship.

Involvement in Serious Offenses

The government carefully scrutinizes any involvement in war crimes, terrorism, or genocide, which may result in a denial of citizenship.

While the new requirements set higher standards for applicants, the UK government recognizes that each case is unique. Individuals impacted by these changes who might not fully meet all criteria can still apply for an exceptional grant of British citizenship. 

These stricter requirements ensure that individuals seeking British citizenship align with the nation’s principles, fostering an inclusive and harmonious society for all.

For more information on British Citizenship Laws, contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is good character for UK citizenship application?

Good character, in the context of a UK citizenship application, encompasses a range of attributes that demonstrate an applicant’s moral and legal standing. It involves having a clean criminal record, obeying the law, and exhibiting positive behavior within the community. 

Factors such as criminal history, involvement in unlawful activities, and behaviors that could jeopardize public safety are assessed to determine an applicant’s eligibility for citizenship.

What is the good character reference for British citizenship?

The good character reference for British citizenship is a declaration or statement that attests to an applicant’s upstanding moral and legal conduct. This reference is often required as part of the citizenship application process. 

It can come from various sources, such as employers, community leaders, or other individuals who can vouch for the applicant’s character and behavior over a specific period.

How do you prove good character?

Proving good character involves demonstrating compliance with the law and positive conduct. This can be achieved through various means, including:

  • Providing a criminal record check or disclosure.
  • Present references from employers, community leaders, or other individuals who can attest to your character.
  • Showing consistent adherence to laws and regulations through a history of responsible behavior.
  • Providing any relevant documentation that supports your claim of good character.

What is a certificate of good character in UK?

A certificate of good character in the UK is a formal document that provides an official confirmation of an individual’s moral and legal standing. It’s often required in various legal and administrative processes, including citizenship applications. 

The certificate is typically obtained through a criminal record check or disclosure, and it indicates whether an individual has a criminal history or any convictions that might affect their character assessment.

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