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UNITED KINGDOM: Changes in the Assessment of Good Character in Citizenship Applications

As of December 13, 2012, the United Kingdom made changes 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 summarized below:

  • Applications made on or after December 13, 2012, that include 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 four 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 considered in determining whether someone meets the good character requirement.
  • In the case of a non-custodial offense, applications will be refused if the conviction occurred in the last three years.
  • Other examples of matters that could be taken into account when considering good character include failure to pay appropriate taxes, a TV license, or council tax, or repeatedly receiving fixed penalty notices.

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