British Citizenship and the Good Character Requirement

The good character test is a requirement that needs to be met if you want to apply to naturalise as a British citizen and can be considered one of the harder criteria that applicants have to meet during the process. 

Many think that there is a legal definition for what having a “good character” is, as opposed to a “bad character”, but there is no statutory definition for this in UK law. 

Anyone over the age of 10 who is applying to naturalise as a British citizen needs to be assessed under the good character test. 

The responsibilities of the Home Office

When considering whether someone has a good character or not, the Home Office states that applicants must answer all the questions that they are asked during the application process honestly, and must meet the criteria that state that they have not committed any serious criminal offences, and have not committed any immigration offences in the last 10 years. Applicants must also state if they have any pending problems, such as a court order or criminal dilemma. 

The Home Office has the responsibility to prove that you are of bad character. You may, for example, have failed to disclose your tax affairs properly, so, the Home Office has to show you intended to deceive or misrepresent yourself in your application.

Reasons why you may not meet the “Good Character” requirement

When assessing you, the Home Office will not agree that you are a person of “good character” if you have been:

  • Convicted of certain crimes or are suspected of involving yourself with criminal activity.
  • Associated with committing war crimes or crimes against humanity.
  • Misbehaving in your local community
  • Dishonest and deceptive in dealing with institutions of the UK government
  • A persistent offender who has caused serious harm or are a sex offender
  • Given a custodial sentence of four years or more

Moreover, as applications to naturalise as a British citizen require you to fully state everything related to criminal activity or penalities even offences such as these listed below must be disclosed.

  • Bankruptcy rulings
  • Cautions and warnings from the police
  • Road and traffic offences
  • Civil judgments resulting in court orders against you
  • Civil penalties for illegal working
  • Speeding or parking tickets 
  • Drink driving offences
  • Evading or avoiding UK immigration control

Child applicants and the Good Character test

The good character test is also relevant for child applicants who want to naturalise as British citizens. Children born in the UK to British nationals or settled persons automatically will receive British citizenship however this does not apply to children who are born in the UK to parents who are not legally settled here.

As stated previously, anyone over the age of 10 needs to be considered under these requirements so as a child applicant would have to disclose any involvement with police they have had for any warnings or cautions. Parents of the child in question must also disclose, as part of their application process, everything known about whether the child has been involved in any criminal activity or any questionable behaviour. 

Ask our team of Immigration Lawyers London

For further information and clarification about the “Good Character Test” or naturalisation as a British citizen please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0) 20 7269 9590 or fill out the form below (we will reply to you within 24 hours on working days).

Our team of immigration lawyers and solicitors can help you with your application process and provide you with answers to any questions you may have.