Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Immigration Corner | How decisions on UK citizenship are made

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2023 | 12:20 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I would like to know what specific criteria are used when reaching decisions on United Kingdom (UK) citizenship applications. I am hoping that you can assist me.


Dear JY,

Persons should be aware that applications for British citizenship are made in two ways. The first are entitlements to register as a British citizen. These include all applications from adults who already hold some sort of British nationality to apply for British citizenship. This way also includes applications for minor children, who are applicants and who are under the age of 18 years old, who have British parents or were born in the United Kingdom and are eligible to apply for British citizenship.

The second group are those applicants who are applying for discretion to naturalise, or those children who do not have an entitlement to apply but have established enough connections with the United Kingdom to comply with the Home Secretary’s policy on the exercise of discretion to grant citizenship to minors.

The office of the home secretary will carry out enquiries in all cases to ensure that the requirements are met. Where the character requirement applies, the home secretary will make checks with the relevant government agencies who they share information with about applicants.

For most citizenship applications, the home secretary must be satisfied that the applicant is of good character. Their policy on the application of the good character requirement is contained in the nationality staff instructions. While the policy is not an inflexible rule, the home secretary would not normally grant citizenship where there is a good character requirement and where the applicant has an unspent conviction. In assessing the seriousness of criminal convictions, the home secretary is bound by the decision of the court. Any mitigation will already have been considered by the court as part of sentencing.

Please be aware that applications are checked to ensure that the applicants’ circumstances match the requirements for registration. Since there is no discretion to disregard the requirements, applications are refused if the requirements are not satisfied.

The Home Office also carries out checks to ensure that the supporting evidence has not been forged or fraudulently obtained. Where false documents have been produced, the application will be refused and the Home Office will refer the matter for possible prosecution. In addition, if documents cannot be verified or the applicant cannot prove their entitlement, then the application will be refused. Persons should know that there must be no doubt that a proper legal entitlement exists.

Where the entitlement depends on the applicant holding no other nationality, that is, he/she is not a dual citizen, there must be convincing evidence that another nationality is not held. Persons are advised that to ensure they meet this requirement, they should review the guidance which may be found online.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, the global president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com