Applying for British citizenship – what is an unspent conviction?

The following is a simplified guide – for specific advice regarding your personal circumstances you should book an appointment to see one of our specialist immigration solicitors:

Do I need to declare my caution(s) when making an application for British citizenship?

Yes. Applications for British citizenship from those living in England, Wales and Scotland are outside the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA). This means that you must declare all police cautions on your application, even if they are spent.

However; If you are applying for British citizenship from Northern Ireland, you will not need to declare any convictions which are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978. For more information on this, please see pages 29-31 of this AN guide.

Do I need to declare my conviction(s) when making an application for British citizenship?

Yes. Applications for British citizenship that are made from England, Wales and Scotland are outside the ROA. This means that you must declare all convictions on your application, even if they are spent.

Again; if you are applying for British citizenship from Northern Ireland, you will not need to declare any convictions which are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978. For more information on this, please see pages 29-31 of the AN guide.

Do I need to declare military convictions when making an application for British citizenship?

Yes. If you have been convicted under court martial or during other military proceedings, you will need to declare this on your application. For further guidance on how such matters are considered by UKVI, please see here.

Do I need to declare pending prosecutions when making an application for British citizenship?

Yes. The nationality application makes it clear that you must disclose all pending matters. Failure to do so may be seen as an attempt to deceive UKVI. Please also bear in mind that the Home Office has access to police records, so if you are under investigation for something or awaiting trial, they will know!

I have an overseas conviction. Do I need to declare this when making an application for British citizenship?

Yes. Overseas convictions will usually be treated as if they happened in the UK. UKVI will use the sentence that you received as a starting point when deciding whether the conviction will impact on their decision to grant you citizenship. Again many countries automatically share this type of information so the Home Office will usually find out if you try to conceal this from them.

If you do conceal it and they do find out, they will refuse your application and ban you from making another application for 10 years for deception!

I have a criminal record. Does this mean I will not be granted British citizenship?

Not necessarily. You must be considered to be of good character to be granted British citizenship and, as part of this assessment, UKVI will consider your criminal record and whether you abide by the laws of the UK.

You must disclose your full criminal record when applying for British citizenship if you are applying from England, Wales or Scotland. If you have been convicted of an offence and were sentenced to exactly four years’ imprisonment or longer, your application is likely to be refused.

If you were sentenced to anything less than four years, or given a non-custodial sentence, your application is likely to be refused until a certain period has elapsed:

Sentence/disposal Application will be refused until:
Prison sentence between 12 months and 4 years 15 years from the end of your full sentence (including time on licence)
Prison sentence up to 12 months 10 years from the end of your full sentence (including time on licence)
Non-custodial sentence+ 3 years from the date of conviction
Caution 3 years from the date of caution

A suspended prison sentence is treated as a non-custodial sentence, unless the prison sentence has been ‘activated’ during the period of suspension.
If you have been convicted and the specified time has elapsed as per the table above, your application may still be refused if:

  • You have a pattern of offending
  • You have been convicted of an offence where serious harm was caused to the victim(s)
  • You have been convicted of a sexual offence and are currently under notification requirements and/or subject to a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) and/or a foreign travel order and/or a risk of sexual harm order (RSHO).

Driving Offences

Many applicants will have relatively ‘minor’ convictions for driving offences. These can include things like speeding, driving without insurance or more seriously drink driving bans. As far as the Home Office are concerned these are all disclosable offences. This means that they must be disclosed by the applicant and failure to do so will result in your application being refused and losing your application fee.

Due to the huge array of possible offences relating to Road Traffic laws, prospective applicants with previous convictions for driving offences are strongly advised to contact us for specific advice relevant to their circumstances.

Where can I get further advice on applying for British citizenship?

If you are not sure what you need to disclose when applying for British citizenship, you can contact us to book an appointment to see one of our specialist immigration solicitors on 020 8401 7352.

For general advice about your application, you can try to contact the UKVI contact centre on 0300 123 2241

What is an unspent conviction

immigration-appeal solicitor croydon

People submitting applications to the UK Border Agency and the Home Office for immigration related matters are under a duty to disclose on their application forms any unspent convictions.

However; most people don’t really know what an unspent conviction is and this causes no end of problems with applications, often resulting in refusal of the applications by the Home Office and UKBA.

Failure to disclose an unspent conviction is very often an automatic reason for refusal of the application. The guidance below is produced to help potential applicants decide whether their conviction is spent.

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence you must declare your unspent convictions on any immigration applications related to the UK. You do not need to declare convictions that are spent.

A conviction becomes spent after a certain period of time has passed (this is called the rehabilitation period).

The length of time it takes for a conviction to become spent will depend on the sentence which was given by the court. It starts from the date on which you are convicted.

The period may be shorter if you were aged under 18 at the time of your conviction.

If you have been sentenced to more than 30 months in prison for a single offence, this can never become spent.

An application for British citizenship is therefore unlikely to ever be successful.

However in exceptional circumstances we have been able to assist clients even in this situation and if this applies to you then you should contact our office on 020 8401 7352 to arrange an appointment to see a specialist immigration solicitor. Also check out our ‘updated’ post here.

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence but the rehabilitation period has passed by the time you make your application you do not need to provide details of the conviction on your application form.

If you were convicted of a further offence during the rehabilitation period of your original conviction, the rehabilitation period for your original conviction may be extended.

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence and the spent period has not passed you must include details of the conviction on your application form.

If the conviction is unspent at the time of your application, it is unlikely that your application will be successful, unless there are compelling compassionate circumstances or you can establish that refusal of your application is a breach of your Human Rights.

For further guidance on the rehabilitation period, please see Guide AN produced by the Home Office and UKBA.

Information on how a conviction becomes spent, and a chart providing examples of rehabilitation periods for various sentences, can be found in the Good Character section of this guide.

Offences for which you may go to court or are awaiting a hearing in court must also be disclosed.

You must provide details of any offence for which you may go to court for or are awaiting a hearing in court. This includes any offences for which you have been arrested and are waiting to hear if you will be formally charged.

If you are living in Scotland you must provide details of any recent civil penalties.

If are arrested or charged with an offence after you have made your application you must let the UKBA and Home Office know.

Applicants should be aware that when applying for naturalisation it is not just serious criminal offences and convictions that will be taken into account.

Convictions for any type of Road Traffic offence including speeding, drink driving, careless driving and driving without insurance or a licence will also need to be disclosed.

Even situations where you have had excessive parking fines will be taken into consideration and can result in refusal of your application.

Additionally you must disclose all civil judgements including but not limited to debts, bankruptcy and charging orders and enquiries will also be made of HMRC and your tax office to ensure that you have no outstanding tax liabilities.

Naturalisation is not as straightforward as many would assume. This is especially so when there are negative or potentially problematic issues relevant to the applicant. Convictions and debts are the tip of the iceberg.

It is wise always to seek professional and independent legal advice from a specialist immigration solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Potential applicants should be wary of less experienced or unregulated individuals and companies claiming to be specialist advisers in immigration law.

To discuss your personal circumstances with a specialist immigration solicitor call 020 8401 7352 to book an appointment today, or contact us.

Applying for Ancillary Relief


What is Ancillary Relief

Once a Petition for divorce has been filed at court, either one of the parties to the marraige can apply to the same court in relation to the financial aspects of the divorce.

An application relating to the division of the finances of the divorce is called an Ancillary Relief application.

Ancillary Relief is where a married person applies to court asking for the court to consider how the assets of the married couple ought to be divided between the couple after the divorce.

The purpose of Ancillary Relief proceedings is to divide the matrimonial assets according to the needs and requirements of the parties.

Normally the law will look to split the assets of the marriage on a 50/50 basis. However; this is not always possible given that many married couples have only modest savings and assets and very often there are mitigating factors such as the needs of children which must also be considered by the courts.

Mitigating factors will very often be reason for the courts to derogate from a simple 50/50 division in favour of the financially weaker party to the marriage.

In most divorces there is only one property, the matrimonial home and even then, this is almost always subject to a mortgage.

There may also be children who despite the divorce, still need looking after and insofar as possible the law tries to meet the needs of these children.

Who can apply for ancillary relief?

Either party to the marriage can apply for Ancillary Relief. Contrary to popular belief there is no bias in favour of the applicant.

Can we simply agree finances informally between ourselves?

Not a good idea. No agreement is binding unless filed at the court by the parties when divorcing.

Where an agreement is not filed at the court formally then either party could in theory change their minds and apply to teh court for the process of Ancillary Relief to start.

Applications for Ancillary Relief can be brought years after the marriage has ended and even long after a divorce.

Therefore it is highly recommended that these matters are dealt with at the time of the divorce. For more information see our article Divorce and Consent Orders

How long is the process of ancillary relief?

This depends on how complicated the issues are and how far apart the parties are from agreement.

Where there is an amicable agreement it can be done in a couple of months.

In other cases it can take a year or even longer. On average, these types of matters take around 9 months from start to finish.

Ancillary Relief Overview

Ancillary Relief in England and Wales is the name given to the process whereby the financial arrangements of a divorcing couple are negotiated and formalised in the form of a court order.

Either one of the parties to the marriage can file an application for Ancillary Relief at the court. However; an application for Ancillary Relief can only be filed after a Divorce Petition has been filed at the court.

When assessing an application for Ancillary Relief, the law often applies the ‘needs’ principal.

This effectively asks the court to look at the future ‘needs’ of the divorcing couple and consider what these may be and how best these can be served, taking account of the assets available.

Of course the courts can only divide those assets which are available and in cases where there are no significant assets then of course there will be very little to divide.

Sometime assets are so few that it is not even worth pursuing them. However; in most cases there will be at least a matrimonial home, albeit mortgaged, and perhaps some savings or investments.

There may also be issues surrounding pensions and perhaps even shares in a company.

Not all cases will be treated the same. A situation where there are modest assets will be looked at differently by the courts than one where there are substantial assets.

Financial orders that the courts have power to make in Ancillary Relief proceedings:

Maintenance orders
This is where the court Orders one of the parties to the marriage to make maintenance payments or periodical payments to the other party to the marriage. These types of payments are usually for a limited period of time and do not continue indefinitely.

Lump sum orders
This is where the court Orders one spouse to make a single payment of a lump sum of money to the other spouse. Lump Sum Orders can be ordered in addition to Maintenance Orders in some circumstances.

Transfers of property
This is where the court Orders one party to the marriage to transfer property to the other spouse.

This order is often made in relation to the former matrimonial home. However this type of a court Order can be made in relation to many different types of property including tenancies and shares in companies.

Pension Sharing Orders
This is where the court Orders the sharing or transfer of pensions between divorcing parties.

These Orders are often made to ensure that divorcing couples have equal pension rights when the reach retirement age.

The Court

It is important to bear in mind that the extent to which the court is likely to make each of these Orders depends very much on the circumstances of each case. Some cases may involve all of these different Order whereas others involve only one.

The courts will be keen to make an Order that ends the parties financial obligations toward one another as soon as possible. It is also possible for parties to agree the financial aspects of their divorce on a more amicable basis at any stage in teh divorce process.

Agreements relating to finances of divorce still involve the courts, although on a much simpler basis.

Where agreements are reached relating to the finances of divorce, these are embodied in a court Order called a Consent Order.

For more information on Consent Order see:

  1. Common Law marriages and Living Together Agreements
  2. Divorce and Consent Orders
  3. Clean Break Orders in Ancillary Relief proceedings
  4. Uncontested Divorce guide
  5. Challenging and Appealing a Divorce Consent Order
  6. Ancillary Relief proceedings

We Can Help

Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances, we offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352. Contact us for guidance and advice relating to your particular circumstances.

The information provided in this article is general information only and it is not intended that you should rely on this information as advice relating to your specific circumstances.

Divorce is a potentially complex legal process and you should always ensure that you receive independent legal advice specific to your particular circumstances from a qualified adviser

Private Client Criminal Defence Solicitors

Private Client Criminal Defence Solicitors

When facing criminal proceedings, the last thing you want is delay in your legal team acting in your best interests because of problems and restrictions with Legal Aid. It used to be that Legal Aid would provide full and immediate cover for anyone charged with or suspected of crime. This is no longer the case. With Government cut backs and deep cut restrictions in the Legal Aid budget and levels of cover, many ordinary people with limited incomes are now being refused Legal Aid. It is at times like this when your liberty and reputation are at stake you need professional assistance.

We have over 21 years of experience in providing expert and bespoke defence services to clients facing the most serious allegations including murder, terrorism, hijack, rape and other sexual offences, theft and fraud.

We provide a highly professional, confidential and fast defence team comprising expert solicitor and access to the most senior barristers in the country, for our Private Clients. If you are facing the prospect of having to defend yourself against serious allegations which could result in losing your liberty or reputation, the last thing you want is a lawyer who is bound by financial constraints and time constraints imposed by Legal Aid. As a private fee paying client we will always provide you with the best possible legal team, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call us on 020 8401 7352 or email us at to discuss your requirements with a specialist defence solicitor and obtain a costs estimate

Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Defence Services

Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Defence Services


Although solicitors spend most of their time assisting and defending clients, there can be occasions when a solicitor is themselves called before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (STD) for alleged breaches of the Codes of Practice. This can be a daunting process and in many cases will have occurred after an Intervention into the solicitors firm. Events like this are life changing and potentially can have very serious implications for the solicitor concerned. At times like these you need to rely on professionals who are experienced in dealing with matters of this nature which will often have very personal and confidential issues involved.

If you are a solicitor facing possible Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) proceedings and want to speak to a colleague in confidence, call us on 020 8401 7352. We have extensive experience of representing clients in relation to SDT proceedings and potential criminal proceedings which may be associated with the Solicitors Regulation Authority investigation into your firm. We understand the pressures you will be under at this most difficult stage in your career and you can be assured of our integrity and confidentiality in dealing with your matters.

The outcomes of SRA investigations and SDT proceedings are never isolated in nature. These are likely to impact on your ability to practice, your insurance coverage, your financial circumstances, your reputation and your relationship with your firm and clients. We understand the wider context of disciplinary investigations and proceedings, advising on issues relating to Practising Certificates, Indemnity Insurance Coverage Investigations, Partnership, LLP & corporate issues and Costs in Regulatory Proceedings. When faced with a Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) investigation, it is vital that you seek professional advice as soon as possible. An SRA interview is unlike any other interview. You will not have a right to silence and more often than not the interview will be tape recorded and conducted by senior and highly experienced SRA fraud investigators. Those conducting the SRA interview will already be in possession of vast amounts of information about you and your practice. As a solicitor it is vital that such interviews are conducted whilst you have the benefit of expert advice and with a view to the consequences.

A Solicitors Regulation Authority investigation can last for many months, sometimes even years and throughout this time you may still need to function in your practice. This can be a draining and debilitating time even for the most professional solicitors and it is crucial that at every stage you receive advice on your position and liability.

Any solicitors seeking advice and assistance in relation to pending or threatened SDT proceedings or facing a Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) investigation will receive a 30 minute free consultation. You can email us in strictest confidence at