Bishop & Sewell

In an article published in immigration news site Free Movement, Karma Hickman in our Immigration team looks at a recent change in the Home Office’s good character policy for citizenship applications and the impact it will have on people with a history of overstaying.


Bad news for overstayers in latest hardening of British citizenship policy

A recent change in the Home Office’s good character policy for citizenship applications is set to have a significant impact on people with a history of overstaying. 

The department expressly states for the first time that any overstaying in the last ten years will see an application for British citizenship refused, with some minor exceptions. 

The new policy appears in the Good Character Requirement guidance. This was published in January 2019 but has received comparatively little notice amid the wider upheaval in the UK’s immigration laws of late.

The 53-page guidance has already been considered in previous blog posts, here and here, but the few lines on overstaying merit particular attention given the number of people likely to be affected.

What does the new policy say?

The new version now makes absolutely clear that where someone has overstayed at any point in the ten years before the application, they will be refused British citizenship. The only exception will be if this is the “sole adverse factor weighing against the person’s good character” and one of the following is true:   

• the person’s application for leave to remain was made before 24 November 2016 and within 28 days of the expiry of their previous leave, or

• the person’s application for leave to remain was made on or after 24 November 2016, and the application did not fall for refusal on the grounds of overstaying because an exception under paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules applied, or

• the period without leave was not the fault of the applicant, for example where it arose from a Home Office decision to refuse which is subsequently withdrawn or quashed or which the courts have required the Home Office to reconsider.

Anyone familiar with “permitted” overstaying is likely to be surprised that refusal would even be considered in the first two scenarios … 

The full article can be found here.


For advice on making a visa, immigration or nationality application or in relation to immigration matters more widely, please contact Karma or another member of our expert Immigration Team on 020 7631 4141 or email

Category: Blog | Date: 17th Apr 2019

David Little

David Little's Blog

Learn more

Mark Chick's Blog<

Mark Chick's Blog

Leasehold information

Learn more

Technical updates

View by