Naturalisation as a British citizen by discretion – changes published on August 2017

Naturalisation as a British citizen by discretion.

A person may be granted a certificate of naturalisation under section 6 (1) of the British Nationality Act if, the applicant:

  • is at least 18 years old;
  • is of full capacity;
  • meets the residence requirements or is serving outside the UK in Crown Service under the government of the UK;
  • is of good character;
  • has sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language, and can provide the required evidence to support this;
  • has sufficient knowledge of life in the UK and provides the required evidence to support this;
  • if successful, intends to have their main home in the UK or enter into or continue in any of the following: o Crown service under the government of the UK o service under an international organisation of which the UK or the UK government is a member o service in the employment of a company or association established in the UK.

Full capacity is defined in section 50(11) of the British Nationality Act 1981 as being ‘not of unsound mind’. It is not further defined in the act, but the requirement can be regarded as having been satisfied if the standard set out below is met. Required standard The requirement is not intended to deny British nationality to individuals who have a disability which makes it difficult for them to communicate.

The requirement is specifically to ensure that applicants are able to comprehend their actions in applying for citizenship. You must therefore be careful not to refuse someone on the basis that they cannot communicate as the result of a disability. Whilst applicants must understand the purpose of their application, they do not need to have a comprehensive understanding of nationality or citizenship or the procedures involved. Applicants must be of sufficiently sound mind to know before applying that they want to acquire British citizenship. Before granting an application you must ensure that there is no reason to doubt that that level of understanding is present or capable of being restored.

The majority of applicants will meet this requirement and therefore you must always consider an application from the position that the requirement is met unless there is something to suggest otherwise, such as a report from a referee or doctor.

Where there is reason to question the applicant’s capacity you must make further enquiries with the applicant and referee where appropriate. Waiving the full capacity requirement If it appears that the applicant may have a mental health condition or disability, or is receiving treatment in any establishment for people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities you must not refuse the application, solely on this basis. Where there is information which could cast doubt on whether the requirement has been met, you must give applicants or their appropriate representative the option of submitting, at their cost, a report from their doctors or from a person professionally responsible for their care or welfare. You must explain both the full capacity requirement and the Home Office interpretation of it inviting as much information as possible to help reach a decision on the application.