Denied Naturalisation (UK)
What is Naturalisation?
Naturalisation is the term given to the process of seeking and acquiring the nationality and citizenship of another country. Seeking naturalisation in some countries where dual-citizenship is not permitted will require the applicant to renounce their original citizenship rights. This is not always a requirement, but as far as the UK is concerned, successfully applying for naturalisation may result in automatic loss of existing citizenship status in countries that do not permit dual-nationality.
Where dual-citizenship is permitted, UK naturalisation will not relinquish the applicant of any responsibilities under the citizenship of the other country – for example, any obligation to complete national service.
Successful applications from anyone currently using ‘asylum’ status will result in the automatic loss of that status.
It is not possible to apply for naturalisation if you are the subject of immigration time restrictions.
Basic Requirements for UK Naturalisation
There are 7 basic requirements as laid down by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). These are mostly self-explanatory but we have provided clarification where it would be helpful to do so.
- You must be aged 18 or over.
- You must be of sound mind. – anyone seeking to apply for naturalisation in Britain must be capable of understanding what they are applying for, and of making a decision on that basis. This also sometimes known as the Full Capacity Requirement. Where this is not the case, the application must be completed by someone else, and must be accompanied by medical documentation proving the applicants condition, as well as proof of care arrangements made.
- You must intend to continue living in the UK, or to continue in Crown service, the service of an international organisation of which the UK is a member, or the service of a company or association established in the UK.
- You must be able to communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic to an acceptable degree. – it is not possible to become naturalised in the UK without being able to communicate effectively with other British citizens. Evidence of this will be required in the form of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) certificates.
- You must have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK. – this includes having passed the ‘Life In The UK’ test, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and citizenship classes or similar historically.
- You must be of good character. – This includes information relating to financial activities and any criminal convictions during residency in the UK.
- You must meet the residential requirements. – This is currently set at having been lawfully resident in UK for 5 continuous years at the time of making the application. Evidence of this will need to be provided, and may take the form of letters from employers, PAYE documentation relating to employment or financial data (bank statements) covering those 5 years for those who are financially self-sufficient. If you are married to a British citizen then you must have been continuously resident and married for at least 3 years. You will also need to provide evidence that you have been granted permission from the Home Office to remain in the country indefinitely and are not subject to any immigration time restrictions.
European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss Applicants automatically receive UK permanent resident status after living in the UK for a continuous 5-year period through the free-movement rights granted in the EEA. These rights are not granted to those outside the EEA and Switzerland.
Further Residency Requirements
There are additional restrictions on residency in terms of how long you may be absent from the UK during the 3 or 5 year period (as applicable).
- If you are applying under the rules where you are required to prove 5 years continuous UK residence then you may not have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK during that 5 year period, and not more than 90 days outside of the UK in the year before your application.
- If you married to, or are the civil partner of a British citizen then you must not have spent more than 270 days outside of the UK during the 3 year period, and must not have spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in the year prior to your application.
In either case, during your minimum residency requirement period, you must have conducted yourself within the UK Immigration Rules for the duration.
The ‘Life In The UK’ test
The test was introduced to ensure that anyone who applied for citizenship was culturally aware and possessed the linguistic capabilities required to remain and integrate into UK society.
It is carried out at a number of national testing centres, is computer-based and is comprised of 24 questions. The questions themselves are based around the book ‘Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide for New Residents’. There is no limit to the number of times an applicant can take the test, however it currently costs £50.00 to take and so continued failure could prove expensive.
The test covers the following subjects:
- The values and principles of the UK
- British values, the process of becoming a British citizen or resident, the responsibilities of the applicant
- What is the UK? – The countries making up the UK and information about the member countries
- The historical events and people that have helped to shape the UK – UK Government, Parliament, Historical events of major significance, British inventions, the welfare state, the Second World War, the development of the English language and culture and general events since 1979
- Aspects of life in the UK today – Cultural, sporting and art events, the various religions practised in Britain, literature and places of interest, women in Britain
- The UK government, the law and your role – UK democracy, voting, the police, politics, local services and the environment
Reasons for denial of Naturalisation in the UK
There are a number of reasons why your application for UK citizenship may be declined:
- You do not meet one or more of the basic eligibility criteria above
- UKBA is aware or is made aware of any activities that would preclude you from becoming a British citizen
The UK Border Agency considers every individual case on its own merits and against the criteria outlined. Where an application is unsuccessful, the UKBA will write to the applicant and tell them specifically why their application has been denied.
In the event of an unsuccessful naturalisation application, the application fees are not refunded.
I have been denied naturalisation – what now?
There is no appeals process as such for denied citizenship applications, however you can ask for your application to be reconsidered where you can show that it has been denied on grounds that are inconsistent with the law, UKBA assessment policy. This process is not free of charge and is currently subject to a fee of £80.00, payable at the time of submission.
It is unlikely that most individuals will possess the legal knowledge required to exhaustively prove why their application rejection may have been unlawful and improper and there are a number of specialist immigration companies who offer specialist advice on the subject and can handle both the application and any subsequent appeal on your behalf.