Home Office crackdown to block criminals getting citizenship

Crackdown on foreign criminals getting UK citizenship comes into force tomorrow with tougher rules applied to anyone handed prison terms of over 12 months

  • Changes to the ‘good character’ requirement will be enforced from tomorrow
  • Old rules scrapped where criminals could enter if an amount of time had passed

New rules are set to come into force aimed at preventing serious criminals gaining British citizenship.

Changes to the ‘good character’ requirement of citizenship applications from Monday will see tougher rules applied to anyone who has received a 12-month prison sentence.

It will scrap previous rules where criminals could be granted citizenship if a certain number of years had passed since they finished their sentence – regardless of the type of crime. 

Currently an attempt to gain British citizenship will normally be refused if an individual has received a four-year jail term.

An application was also likely to be rejected from anyone who has served between 12 months and four years in prison until 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence.

Changes to the ‘good character’ requirement of citizenship applications from Monday will see tougher rules applied to criminals. Pictured is Home Secretary Suella Braverman

Anyone who had spent less than a year in prison also faced an application being rejected until 10 years had passed.

READ MORE: Home Office is blasted by watchdog over its failure to kick out foreign criminals

‘British citizenship is a privilege,’ said Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

‘Those who commit crimes shouldn’t be able to enjoy the breadth of rights citizenship brings, including holding a British passport, voting and accessing free medical care from the NHS.

‘I am cracking down on abuse of the UK’s immigration and nationality system, by introducing a tougher threshold so that serious criminals cannot gain British citizenship.

‘This is the fair and right thing to do for our country.’

The changes bring the system into line with immigration rules, with new rules designed to be ‘stricter’ and ‘more specific’ on the so-called ‘good character’ requirements.

There will be exceptions to the new rules and the Home Office said some people could show mitigating circumstances which could support a citizenship bid.

Cases like this could include someone who has committed a minor offence a long time ago but has shown sufficient demonstration of ‘good character’ since.

Ms Braverman said: ‘British citizenship is a privilege’, while announcing the latest crackdown

It comes after the Home Office was blasted last month for its failure to kick out foreign criminals by a watchdog who said: ‘This is no way to run a government department. 

The findings found that performance was not ‘efficient’ with an ‘unacceptable’ lack of data and workable systems. 

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Neal revealed that the number of foreign national offenders who have been deported had fallen by more than half in recent years. 

Meanwhile, a scheme to give departing offenders £1,000 for leaving is at risk of abuse, as they could come back to the UK later on. 

The report said the Home Office was managing the cases of 21,094 foreign offenders, including 6,030 in jail, 1,036 in immigration detention and 13,212 living in the community. Yet the number removed from the UK has dropped from a high of 6,437 in 2016 to just 2,676 in 2021 due to Covid restrictions and legal challenges. 

A spokesman for the department said at the time: ‘This report does not reflect the full complexities of returning foreign national offenders, or the significant impact Covid had on our operations.’ 

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