Author: SIMON BELCHER
People applying for British passports may have been turned down because they are divorced or known to be promiscuous, it has been revealed. Looking into the ways in which the British government is tightening the rules on immigration, The Economist noted that the most common reason for being rejected for British citizenship is for failing to fit into the ‘good character’ clause.
In 2016, 44% of passport applications were rejected because the applicants were deemed to be ‘out of character’. This broad terminology primarily accounts for those who have committed illegal offences, but it does also include those who excessively drink or gamble, or those who are divorced, promiscuous or who have any kind of “eccentricity, including beliefs, appearance and lifestyle”.
While the Home Office guidelines assert that the characteristics listed above “should not normally, of themselves, be relevant”, they do however note “the scale and persistence of their behaviour”, and if any one has made them “notorious in their local or the wider community” then they may be rejected. Officials can also turn down an applicant if they have any unspecified “doubts about their character”, according to the rules.
In simple terms, it means that if a person is deemed notoriously promiscuous within their community, they may theoretically be rejected from becoming a British citizen.
According to lawyers, people are rarely rejected because of their marital status or whether or not they like to wear kitsch clothes, and the Home Office guidelines do note that “the decision must be a reasonable one” – but then again, it depends who’s judging what’s “reasonable” or not.
And whether these aspects of a person’s life do have anything to do with whether they get rejected or not, there is a clear reduction in the number of people who are being accepted as permanent citizens in the country. In 2012, the Home Office allowed 194,370 people to become British citizens, but last year that figure dropped dramatically to 123,229. The Economist reports the intention is to issue no more than 100,000 British passports to previous non-citizens each year.