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Senior Partner
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Category: UK Immigration Law
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Experience:  Solicitor
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Benefit fraud

Resolved Question:

Hi, My wife was on benefit and then she got an offer at Univeristy to do Nursing, in 2004. After getting an offter, she failed to inform the local authoririty about her changes and kept on receiving benefit together with the school bursary. Later. In July 2006, she applied for a British Citizenship. In November 2007, she went to court and was convicted and given 2 years suspended sentence. Immediately, she started paying back the money. In December 2007, the law about the benefit fraud changed. Recently, i,e one week ago, she received a letter from UK Border, refusing her the British Citizenship, on good character ground citing that she failed to mention about the unspent conviction. But the time she applied in 2006, there was no conviction. The only time she got the chance to disclose that, was, when she was applying for no limit stamp in her passport on 18 July 2008. My question is, can she be punished by 2007 law, when there was no conviction yet/ or she can only be punished by laws before that? And what the law before the one of 2007 say about benefit cheat? Many thanks

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: UK Immigration Law
Expert:  Senior Partner replied 3 years ago.
It has always been the case that citizenship can be refused on grounds of character. The difference in the rules is that it is now compulsory to refuse an application until even minor convictions are spent previously there was some discretion to ignore some minor offences but frankly I do not think you will get anywhere appealing against the refusal as benefit fraud is very serious even if she only got a suspended sentence.

Why did her application for citizenship take so long to determine? It is unusual for it to take form 2006 to 2011
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I do understand that it was a serious crime, but can you give me some guidance? What does the law say about the same crime before 2007. Because, I believe, in my opinion, the law the case worker applied to my wife case was the new law instead of applying the old one.

Expert:  Senior Partner replied 3 years ago.
I thought I did. To be clear the law has not changed. The nationality act requires applicants to be of good character. Prior to 2007 determining this was discretionary but it is likely that someone convinced of a serious offence would be refused. Minor offences could be ignored. The change was to make clear that anyone with any conviction at all would not be regarded as of good character even motoring offences.

You have not explained why it took 4 years for the application to be dealt with
Senior Partner, Solicitor
Satisfied Customers: 13248
Experience: Solicitor
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Every time we called the UK Border Agency, they were saying that, the case was still under enquiry and there was nothing we could do about that
Expert:  Senior Partner replied 3 years ago.
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