Immigration Alert: Changes in the assessment of good character in citizenship applications

28 January 2013

From 13 December 2012, changes were made to the Nationality Instructions that affect anyone applying for citizenship on or after that date. The main changes deal with criminality and how it is assessed in terms of the good character requirement in citizenship applications. Some of the main amendments are summarised below:

  • Applications made on or after 13 December 2012 which feature a criminal conviction will no longer be assessed against the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Instead they will be measured against a new set of sentencing limits
  • Where an application features a sentence of 4 years or more in prison this can never fall outside a sentencing threshold. Such an application for citizenship will likely be refused
  • Police cautions will be looked at in determining whether someone meets the good character requirement
  • In the case of a non-custodial offence applications will be refused if the conviction occurred in the last 3 years
  • Other examples of matters which could be taken into account when considering good character  include failure to pay appropriate taxes, a TV Licence, Council Tax or repeatedly receiving Fixed Penalty Notices

Further details of the changes have also been explained in our latest blog Applying to naturalise as a British Citizen – are you of good character? and on the UKBA website.

Changes to the Investor Rules Affect Professional Sportspeople  

Changes to the Immigration Rules in December now prevent Tier 1 (Investor) migrants from working as professional sportspeople. In the past, the investor route had been used during the January transfer window by football players to circumvent the stringent Sports Governing Body endorsement criteria in the dedicated sporting routes in Tier 2 and Tier 5. Current Football Association (FA) rules dictate that unless a player has played at least 75% of international matches for their country in the last two years, they are ineligible for a UK visa. However, most transfers could avoid this requirement by subscribing to the investor category.

It is expected that this change in the Rules may prevent sportsmen and women as well as coaches and other sports professionals from moving to the UK.

For more information, please contact a member of the immigration team.

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