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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Changes To British Citizenship Applications


The recent development in this area is that the Home Office has begun inviting people applying for naturalisation as British Citizens to attend interviews before a decision is made in their applications. This is a change in practice and not in law per se.

The Home Office has always had this power to invite applicants to attend interviews. However, in the past, it was in the rare cases that an applicant would be invited to attend an interview in a naturalisation application as these applications used to be straightforward. However, in the last few weeks it appears that this is becoming standard procedure as the Government's policy on granting British Citizenship applications has changed.

At the interview, applicants will be required to speak without the use of an interpreter. Two previous articles on published on this site looked at changes to the requirements for applying for British Citizenship. Apart from meeting other requirements, a person applying for British Citizenship must demonstrate that they are of good character.

In December 2014, changes were made to the 'good character' requirement so that the Home Office can take into account a number of factors when assessing whether an applicant meets this requirement. Since then, a record number of applications for British Citizenship have been refused on good character grounds. Some of the reasons for refusal for these applications were quite frivolous. This led to a lot of people challenging the Home Office's decisions.

Rumour has it that the Home Office has been inundated by the legal challenges they have received following their refusal of applications for naturalisation. As a result, there is now this change in practice at the Home Office as they are now inviting applicants for interviews before a decision is made in their cases.

The interview is intended to be a fact finding mission which will help the Home Office obtain more information from an applicant before they go on to make a decision on that person's character. It is hoped that the interviews will help the Home Office make informed decisions instead of making determinations based on assumptions and suspicion. In my opinion, this is a good development as it will help applicants clarify issues at the interview and hopefully lead to better quality decision making in the Home Office.

Please note that you might not be invited to an interview if the Home Office does not deem it necessary. It will be up to the caseworkers to decide who is invited depending on the facts of the case but we have noticed a rise in the number of applicants who are now being requested to attend interviews in naturalisation matters.

Maybe the Home Office has now realised it needs need more information from applicants before making decisions in order to avoid the numbers of legal challenges it is now dealing with for refused naturalisation applications. If you are invited to one, it is advisable to seek legal advice before attending the interview.

Primerose Makunzva

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