British Citizenship Refused: What Are Your Options?

Applying for British citizenship can be a daunting and complex process, even at the best of times. If you have had your application to become a British citizen refused, your situation will become even more stressful, and it can be difficult to know what to do next.

If a naturalisation application is refused, there is no right of appeal against the decision. However, this does not mean that there are no options available to you. By seeking legal advice and making yourself aware of your rights in this situation, you will be able to make an informed decision on what to do next.

Here, we will provide an in-depth look at the steps you can take if you have had your British citizenship application refused, as well as ways to maximise your chances of a successful outcome.

Can I appeal if my application for British citizenship is refused?

Unfortunately, under the terms of the British Nationality Act 1981, there is no statutory right of appeal against a decision to refuse British citizenship. For people with UK settled status or indefinite leave to remain, becoming a British citizen is a vital step towards obtaining a UK passport and the right to vote, which means that a refused British citizenship application will come as a major setback.

However, there are options available to those who have had their citizenship application refused, specifically if you believe that the citizenship refusal decision was incorrect with regards to the law or proper administrative process. In these cases, it is advisable to seek legal advice from qualified immigration lawyers as soon as possible to see if you have grounds for the decision to be reconsidered.

What are your options if your citizenship application is refused?

If your British citizenship application is refused, you have two primary options available to you:

Request a reconsideration

You can ask the Home Office to reconsider its decision to refuse a British citizenship application if you believe there has been a mistake or an oversight in their assessment. If they find circumstances sufficiently compelling to reopen the application, this may lead to a different decision.

Examples of situations that might justify consideration of reopening a case include:

  • The application was not judged on the correct requirements or criteria
  • The caseworker failed to take into account of all of the relevant documentation
  • An application was incorrectly refused for a lack of response to enquiries, when a response had actually been provided
  • Sufficient time was not allowed for completion of enquiries relating to the application

Requests to reopen applications must be made in writing within 28 days of receiving the refusal decision. It is important to note that a request for reconsideration does not guarantee a change in the decision, and the Home Office may still uphold the original refusal.

A fee is payable, which is refundable if your reconsideration is successful. Note: these cases are currently taking months to be decided.

Submit a fresh application

When a British citizenship application is refused, the letter notifying you of the decision will explain the reasons for the refusal. If you are able to address and correct these issues, it is possible to submit a new application, providing the necessary documentation and evidence to satisfy the Home Office’s requirements and gain British citizenship. This will be a better, quicker option than reconsideration in many instances.

By submitting a fresh application, you will need to pay the fee for handling and processing your application again.

How will a refusal decision be reconsidered by the Home Office?

When you request a reconsideration of the refusal decision, the Home Office will review your application and the reasons for refusal. It is important to provide a detailed explanation of why you believe the decision was incorrect, along with any relevant documents and additional evidence that supports your claim. The Home Office will then assess your request and determine whether there is a valid reason to overturn the refusal.

When reconsidering citizenship applications, Home Office caseworkers will look at the following:

  • Whether the application meets all of the criteria set out under the British Nationality Act 1981 and related, published guidance
  • If not, whether any grounds for discretion exist within the rules that can be applied to your case
  • Whether there is any legal precedent for citizenship to be granted in circumstances similar to yours
  • If not, whether there are grounds to create a further precedent with regards to the details of your case

It is important to be aware that reconsideration requests can take many months to be processed, and there is no guarantee that the outcome will be favourable. You can give your reconsideration the best chance of success by instructing our specialist lawyers, who have overturned many citizenship refusals over the years.

If the Home Office decides not to overturn the decision, we can advise you on the viability of a judicial review, which means you are challenging the legal basis for the refusal. However, you should be aware that judicial review proceedings can be costly and time-consuming, so it is important to seek legal advice from an expert immigration solicitor before considering this as an option. Naturalisation judicial reviews are particularly difficult, with the courts giving the Home Office a wide degree of discretion in interpreting, for example, the good character requirements of its policy guidance as it relates to criminal convictions or immigration compliance issues.

How can I request for my refusal decision to be reconsidered?

To request for British citizenship applications to be considered, you must submit a written request to the Home Office using Form NR within 28 days of receiving the refusal decision. This should include the following information:

  • Full name and address
  • Date of birth
  • Home Office reference
  • Email and telephone number
  • Details of any agents or immigration lawyers representing you

You must also provide a detailed explanation of why you believe the decision was incorrect, along with any additional evidence that supports your claim. Specifically, Form NR asks the following questions:

  • Was your application refused because you had not provided requested information and you believe this had been provided by the due date?
  • Do you believe that the decision was reached prematurely, before you were able to supply all relevant documentation?
  • Do you believe that the decision was incorrect according to law?

When you apply to the Home Office to reconsider the refusal of a citizenship application, you will need to pay an additional fee of £372. This will be returned if the decision is reversed and your application is approved, minus cost of any citizenship ceremony fees that have already been refunded.

What is the difference between a citizenship application being refused or rejected?

A refused application is one that has been assessed and deemed not to meet the necessary requirements for British citizenship. This could be due to insufficient evidence, failing to satisfy the good character requirement, or not meeting other eligibility criteria.

A rejection, on the other hand, means that no substantive consideration of your citizenship application has taken place. This typically occurs when a naturalisation application is incomplete, contains errors or lacks the necessary supporting documents. In such cases, the Home Office will return the application along with the fees paid (less an administration fee), allowing the applicant to correct the issues and resubmit the application.

Will my naturalisation fee be refunded if my British citizenship application is refused?

Unfortunately, the fees paid to the Home Office for your naturalisation application – except for the small component that pays for the citizenship ceremony (currently £80) will be non-refundable in the event of a refusal. This fee covers the administrative costs associated with processing the application, which is incurred regardless of the outcome.

However, if your application is rejected rather than refused, the Home Office will return the application along with the fees paid, allowing you to correct the issues and resubmit the application.

How can I maximise the chances of a successful naturalisation application?

There are several ways to maximise your chances of a successful outcome when applying for British citizenship:

  • Understand the eligibility criteria – ensure that you meet all the requirements for British citizenship before submitting your application. This includes having the correct immigration status, meeting the residence requirements, being of good character, passing the Life in the UK Test (which can be booked here), and demonstrating a good level of English language proficiency.
  • Provide accurate and complete information – it is crucial to ensure that your application form is filled out correctly and that all the required information is provided. Double-check the application for errors and omissions before submission.
  • Gather strong supporting evidence – provide comprehensive supporting documentation to demonstrate that you meet the eligibility criteria. This may include proof of residence, employment history, tax records and evidence of your English language skills.
  • Seek professional advice – if you are unsure about any aspect of your application or the process, it can be beneficial to consult with an experienced solicitor with in-depth knowledge of UK immigration law. They can provide guidance on the application process, help you gather the necessary documentation, and ensure that your application is submitted correctly.

Contact Latitude Law

Having your British citizenship application refused can be disheartening, but by understanding the reasons for the refusal and taking appropriate action, you can maximise your chances of a successful outcome.

If you seek advice on the legal requirements and processes when applying for British citizenship, get in touch with the expert immigration solicitors at Latitude Law. We can provide the legal guidance you require to navigate this often complicated process.

Call us on 0044 161 234 6800, or complete our enquiry form and make an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors to discuss your naturalisation application. We can arrange appointments in our London, Liverpool or Manchester offices, or we can take your instructions via email, phone or Skype.