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British Citizenship refusal

British Citizenship Refused: What Next?

Feb 12, 2024
Last Updated on May 21, 2024

The process of securing British Citizenship is notoriously gruelling. From start to finish, the process can take years. And at the end of the process, there is no guarantee you will get the outcome you want.

Many people apply for British Citizenship as they want to feel more secure. So when their application is refused, it can be earth-shattering. While a British Citizenship refusal won’t impact your existing Indefinite Leave To Remain status, it is still an expensive and devastating loss.

If you’re facing a British Citizenship refusal and aren’t sure what to do next, we’re here to guide you. Read on to learn more about the common reasons for refusal, what might stand in your way and what steps you can take to put it right.

What is the refusal rate for British citizenship?

The refusal rate for British Citizenship applications was 3% in 2020. This might seem low enough that you can ignore the risk, but this equates to 5,613 individual lives that were derailed as a result of this refusal. Percentages aren’t helpful when we think about the individual human lives that are impacted by immigration application refusals.

What can stop you from getting British citizenship?

These are the most common reasons that your British Citizenship application will be refused:

  • Failing to meet the “good character” requirement
  • Failing to meet the residence requirement
  • Failing to respond to Home Office correspondence in good time

The good character requirement is tricky because there is so little guidance available for what is and what isn’t acceptable. Often, applicants will be rejected because they have failed to disclose something that is later revealed. Although they might not intend to conceal information, this may be seen as an attempt to hide the truth.

Misunderstanding the requirements is also common. To be eligible, you need to have been resident in the UK for five years before you submit your application. However, there are instances where your time in the UK won’t count towards your Citizenship eligibility. This includes time spent in the UK as a diplomat, as a member of a diplomat’s staff or household, or as a member of visiting armed forces.

You also cannot have extended periods of absence from the UK. You can’t have been outside of the UK for more than 450 days in the past 5 years, or more than 90 days in the last 12 months. Already, you might see why applicants might struggle.

What to do if your application is refused

It can be incredibly disappointing to learn that your application has been refused. However,it does not need to be the end of your road to Citizenship.

You have several options available to you:

  • If you believe a mistake has been made, you can request a reconsideration of the decision.
  • If you made a mistake in your application, you can reapply for British Citizenship.
  • You can also drop your application and decide to continue living in the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain.

The best route available to you will depend on the reason that your application was refused. This should be clearly explained to you in your refusal letter. This will form the basis of your next move.

If you believe the caseworker made a mistake in refusing your application, you should request a review of your application. You only have 28 days from the date of your refusal to prepare and submit your request.

You will need to demonstrate that one of the following conditions applied to the refusal:

  • The caseworker handling your application was negligent in their application of the law.
  • The case worker did not properly consider all the documents that were in their possessions.
  • The caseworker made a decision before giving enough time for external enquiries to be completed.

If you’re not sure if these apply to you, we recommend consulting with an immigration law professional. We can help you prepare a professional and comprehensive request for a review of your case that will increase the chances that your application is accepted.

Can you reapply for British citizenship?

You will be told in your application refusal if you are eligible to re-apply. If you are considering re-applying, we recommend seeking professional advice for your follow-up application. We can help to ensure that your application is prepared professionally, in line with all regulations and free from errors.

The cost of applying for British Citizenship is very high, so you don’t want to repeat the same mistakes again and risk another refusal.

It may be that you don’t currently meet the residence requirements and you need to stay in the UK for a little longer to meet all eligibility criteria. We can advise on the best time to apply and also make sure that there are no errors in your application that could cause issues.

Can you appeal British Citizenship refusal?

No, there is no right to appeal when it comes to a British Citizenship application. Since this is considered a privilege and not a right, you can’t appeal on human rights grounds. The majority of refusals are the result of failing to meet the “good character” requirement, and this is a vague and subjective measure at best.

Another reason that there is no right to appeal is that it will not impact your ability to continue living and working in the UK. Your right to family and private life won’t be impacted, so you cannot submit a human rights claim.

This is actually good news for applicants, as it means you won’t be locked in a lengthy and expensive appeals process. You can either apply for the decision to be reconsidered, resubmit your application, or accept that you cannot secure British Citizenship.

What can stop you from getting British citizenship?

There are some criminal convictions that will prevent you from ever securing British Citizenship. This is because you will always fail the “good character” test, regardless of how long it has been since the offence. If you have been convicted of a crime and given a custodial sentence, it is likely that your application will be refused until a certain amount of time has passed. 

SentenceApplication will be refused until:
Custodial sentence between 1-4 years15 years from the end of your full sentence, including time on licence 
Custodial sentence up to 1 year10 years from the end of your full sentence, including time on licence 
Non custodial sentence (including a suspended sentence)3 years from the date of conviction
Caution3 years from the date of the caution

For any convictions that resulted in a sentence over 4 years, it is unlikely that you will ever be granted citizenship. If you demonstrate a pattern of repeat offences, you are also unlikely to secure citizenship. And finally, serious sexual offences are likely to prevent you from ever securing British Citizenship. 

How can A Y & J Solicitors help?

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with British Citizenship applications and refusals. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!

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Diana Todirica

Diana serves as the Head of Operations and Senior Immigration Associate at A Y & J Solicitors, specializing in Sponsor Licence, Global Talent Visa, Appeals, and Judicial Review, with notable experience in Skilled Worker Suspension and Revocation. Her legal expertise is underpinned by a law degree with a concentration in International Law. Known for her meticulous attention to detail and positive work ethic, Diana is recognised in the Legal 500 as a key figure at A Y & J Solicitors.

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