In this article, we look at how easily British citizenship can be refused if an applicant is found to have been dishonest at any point in the immigration process. This is because it counts as poor character. For you to be successful when applying for a visa or leave for remain you need to demonstrate good character. We’ll be looking at two cases that perfectly illustrate this issue.

The case of Mr Rushiti [2014] EWHC 3931 (Admin) involves two linked cases, both of which are examples of Albanians entering the UK and pretending to be Kosovar when obtaining immigration status and applying for British citizenship.

In the case of one of Mr Rushiti his dishonesty was quite extensive. When applying for leave to remain, he supported his appeal by not only lying about his place of birth but gave fake accounts of atrocities he had witnessed and false medical information around post traumatic stress disorder.

Even though Mr Rushiti’s lies were accepted by the judge, the appeal for immigration was eventually dismissed on the basis that it was now safe to return to his country. Mr Rushiti applied again for leave to remain, this time on human rights grounds. Mr Rushiti was eventually granted Indefinite Leave to Remain and maintained the lie that he was Kosovar throughout the process. Once eligible to apply for British citizenship, he revealed that he was in fact Albanian.

The same happened in the linked case of a Mr Laci, whose lies were described by the judge as “an elaborate fabrication to support a fraudulent claim for asylum”. His application was refused and an appeal lodged but then abandoned. Over seven years later, Mr Laci applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain under what is known as the Legacy programme. He continued to use his false name but in his application he stated that he was Albanian. Eventually, Mr Laci applied for British citizenship and decided to reveal his false application and identity.

In short, their deception showed that the applicants were of poor character, and therefore their applications were denied.

Both Mr Rushiti and Mr Laci’s applications were refused on the grounds that the applicants did not meet the good character requirement because of their past deception of the authorities. There is no definition of ‘good character’ in the British Nationality Act 1981 and therefore no statutory guidance as to how this should be interpreted or applied. However, the Secretary of State must be satisfied that an applicant is of good character on the balance of probabilities. Applicants must answer all questions asked of them during the application process honestly and in full. This is why Mr Rushiti and Laci applications were refused.

Had the applicants “come clean” at the time of the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain and admitted their deception at that point, then they may have still been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain at that time. However, other application cases that have been denied in recent months have proved that deception at any point can prove poor character.

In summary, the only way to avoid applications being denied and to give yourself the best chance of success is to be 100% truthful in every step of the immigration process. If you have previously lied about your reason for entry into the UK, you may now face great difficulties obtaining settlement and perhaps even greater hurdles naturalising as a British citizen.

If you need any help with immigration issues or advice on how to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, our expert immigration solicitors can help you any aspect of law. Call us on 01273 696962 or send us an email.