Home Office will “no longer overlook lengthy periods of unlawful residence” while processing British citizenship applications,” Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said.
In a written response to Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex, Mr Brokenshire said “applicants for naturalisation need to meet the statutory requirements in the British Nationality Act 1981 which specify that a person must not have been in breach of the Immigration Rules during the required residential qualifying period. In addition, a person is required to be of good character. If a person meets these requirements, the Home Secretary may, if she thinks fit, grant a certificate of naturalisation.”
Mr Soames had asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she had plans of introducing legislative proposals to prevent anyone who has entered or stayed illegally in the UK being granted British citizenship.
Mr Brokenshire said: “Our revised policy on good character makes it clear that entering the UK illegally or evading immigration control will usually mean that a person is prevented from acquiring citizenship for a period of 10 years.”
In the past Home Office exercised discretion in cases where a person who deliberately entered or remained in the UK without permission had attempted to regularise their stay.
“We will no longer tolerate this,” Mr Brokenshire said. “We will normally only exercise discretion to overlook periods of unlawful residence if they are short and genuinely inadvertent or outside the applicant’s control.”