Many South Africans find emigrating to the United Kingdom appealing – they go for better job opportunities, an enhanced quality of life and a safer environment for their families. Regardless of how South Africans apply for British citizenship, each applicant must satisfy a “good character” test requirement.

Speaking to BusinessTech, immigration experts Sable International, said that British officials use this test to assess your character and to determine whether you could be conductive to the overall public good in the UK.

Although some reasons for applications being refused are more obvious than others, minor breaches may also result in applications being red-flagged. This could lead to the application being denied.

Sable International warned those applying for UK visas to take note of these small offenses, as they might flag their visas.

“The good character test is a mandatory requirement that anyone over the age of 10 who is applying for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen needs to meet. If you fail to meet the requirements of the test, your application for citizenship will be refused,” Sable said.

All applicants are based on a criteria which is outlined in the UK government’s national policy guideline. These guidelines are used by UK Home Office Officials to asses as nationality application and determine whether the applicant meets the “good character” requirement.

The crux of this requirement is to answer all the questions posed in full and as honestly as possible. “You will also have to declare any involvement in anything which might indicate that you are not of good character,” Sable said. ” All criminal convictions both within and outside of the UK must be declared, no matter how long ago it was and however minor they may be.”

Officials are also required to conduct verification checks on all responses.

Not being honest as one answers these questions will be classified as deception and is grounds for the refusal of an application. This is the outcome no matter how minor the lie is, as officials conduct verification processes to check responses.

The good character requirement goes beyond the scope of having a clean criminal record.

The following infringements may pose a risk to the approval of a UK visa application:

Financial soundness

All financial affairs must be in order once the application process begins. This includes tax and financial issues such as bankruptcy, debt or liquidation.

“As part of your application for citizenship, you authorise the Home Office to conduct verification checks which include credit checks, should the Home Office deem it necessary. It is therefore vital that you disclose all infringements, regardless of when they occurred,” Sable said.

Traffic offenses

Fines and traffic notices that have been referred to court due to a non-payment are treated as a conviction by Home Office Officials.

“Even where a person has not received a fine within the last three years, the decision maker may still conclude that a person is not of good character,” Sable said. “Reason to refuse an application is quite strong in cases where a person has committed multiple offenses of this kind, as it shows a pattern of offending.”

Public order

A public order risk is someone who has made themselves negatively known to the local or wider community.

“This will be determined on the scale and persistence of their behaviour. This does not need to be politically-related. A person that is a known football hooligan could also be regarded as a public order risk,” Sable said.

Immigration-related issues

“This includes minor or major breaches of immigration law, such as overstaying your visa or working when your visa did not permit you to,” Sable said. “If within the 10 years preceding the application, an individual has not been compliant with immigration requirements, the Home Office will normally refuse that person’s application.”

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Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She enjoys reading the works of Stephen King, and exploring the beauty of Cape Town and its surrounds.