USA and the UK
Applying for a British passport with criminal record
Having a criminal record can be a potential hurdle to obtaining a British passport as many British citizenship applications can be refused if an applicant is found to be of “bad character”. However, it is not a complete barrier to being granted citizenship as it depends on what offences have been committed and how long ago or if the applicant has received a suspended prison sentence.
It is important that all criminal convictions or arrests are disclosed when applying for British citizenship and throughout the application process. Failure to declare convictions or criminal records could have long term implications in Obtaining a British passport and British citizenship so it is important to seek further guidance if anyone is unsure.
Do all convictions need to be declared?
The UK Home Office requires applicants to declare all convictions, including a conviction that may be spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 – this includes any cautions received or minor offences. It does not matter if a certain period or specified time has passed since the conviction.
In addition, any conviction held or offence committed when someone was a child still have to be declared when applying for a UK passport. This again applies even if the conviction is declared as spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
A non-custodial sentence and out of court disposals such as a reprimand, conditional discharge, probation or a community sentence must be included on any British citizenship or visa application. Fines received within the last three years also need to be declared.
Overseas criminal offences and military proceedings
It is often wrongly assumed that anyone applying for a British passport does not need to declare military convictions or any offence that involved a overseas conviction outside of the UK. However, all overseas convictions must be declared as well as any military convictions under court martial or part of any other military criminal proceedings while servicing in the military services.
It is important to note that the Home Office will disregard any criminal record for a crime that is not regarded as an offence in the UK – for example being in a same-sex relationship – but it is still vital to ensure details of an applicant’s full criminal record is declared when making an nationality application so that it is not refused.
Do pending criminal charges need to be declared?
Pending police criminal proceedings and pending prosecutions must also be including in any application for a British passport – even if they have not been concluded or a conviction secured at the time of applying and have not officially been included on criminal records.
Does a criminal record mean automatic rejection?
Applicants with criminal records are not automatically rejected for a British passport as the Home Office will look at a range of factors when making a decision about British citizenship, including the nature of those criminal convictions and its impact of establishing an applicant’s good character. Therefore, it is possible for someone with a criminal record to be granted British citizenship especially if they have non custodial sentences but further advice is needed to ensure an application is not automatically refused.
It will be harder to be granted a British nationality if the person has committed a crime which caused serious harm or committed a sexual offence and/or have been subject to a sexual harm order or sexual offences prevention order.
Applying for British citizenship when convicted of repeat offences
Persistent offending can also be an issue when hoping to obtain British citizenship as the Home Office can reject applicants if they have shown a pattern of law breaking even if each individual offence is not enough on its own to lead to an automatic refusal or is after a specified time.
An application for a British passport is likely to be rejected if someone has demonstrated and of the following as it calls into question their good character:
- A long history of committing offences
- Offences that have increased in seriousness over a long period
- A significant number of offences committed in a short time
Being granted British citizenship having served a custodial sentence
There are also a number of prison sentence-based offences that will lead to a British citizenship refusal including:
- a custodial or prison sentence of at least 4 years
- a custodial sentence of at least 12 months but less than 4 years unless a period of 15 years has passed since the end of the sentence
- a custodial sentence of less than 12 months unless a period of 10 years has passed since the end of the sentence
- a non-custodial sentence or out-of-court disposal that is recorded which took place in the 3 years prior to the date of application
In addition, a non-custodial sentence that is recorded three years or less before applying for British citizenship could also lead to a rejection when applying for a British passport.
Applying for a British passport having been given a fixed penalty notice
It is unlikely that receiving a fixed penalty notice would lead to a UK passport application being declined but a failure to pay a notice could lead to a conviction that could undermine someone’s “good character” and lead to a refused application.
Important to include all offences when applying
Failure to declare all criminal offences or declare pending prosecutions or police cautions when applying for a British passport is a criminal offence so it is vital to be upfront about convictions. British citizenship can also be revoked if any undeclared criminal offences come to light at a future date.
How do I apply for a UK passport?
Once you have become a British citizen and attended your citizenship ceremony, you can apply for your first UK passport straight away. You can apply online using the application form available on the gov.uk website or you can also get an application form from your local UK post office and apply by post.
When applying, there are several documents you will need to submit, they include:
- A certificate of naturalisation or registration
- The passport you used to enter the UK
- If applying with a paper form you will need to send two passport sized photographs, one of which must be signed by a counter signatory to prove your identity
You must submit original copies of the above documents.
After you apply, you may need to attend a passport interview to prove your identity. Following the application you should allow up to 10 weeks to receive your passport.
How we can help you to apply for British citizenship and your British passport
Applying for British citizenship is an incredibly complex process, there are a number of strict requirements that you will need to meet and you will need to provide a substantial amount of supporting documents throughout the application process.
Here at IAS we have a team of lawyers that specialise in UK immigration law, they can assist you with every aspect of the British citizenship application process. We have lawyers based in areas across the UK and United States but if you cannot make it to one of our offices in person we also offer all of our services remotely.
Our lawyers can help you to fill in the British citizenship application form, assist you with gathering all of the required documents and write you a Letter of Representation to support your application. They will also be there to answer any question you may have about the Life in the UK Test, other requirements or any aspect of the application process.
Once you have been successfully granted British citizenship you can apply for your first UK passport. The application form can be complex and your application maybe refused if you make a mistake. We offer an application checking service that will see one of our lawyers thoroughly check your application for any mistakes or inaccuracies before it is submitted.
For more information about how our lawyers can help you to apply for British citizenship or a UK passport, get in touch today on +1 844 290 6312.
Last modified on September 21st, 2022 at 6:17 am
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