What is an unspent conviction

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.

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.

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 info@solicitorsfirm.com 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 info@solicitorsfirm.com 


Applying for a UK visa from Australia

Applying for a UK visa from Australia


During March 2014, VFS Global will take over running the visa application service in Australia.

New UK visa application centres will open in:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Perth
  • Canberra

The British High Commission or British consulates will no longer provide a visa biometric enrolment service.

Priority service

You can choose to buy a priority visa service to fast track your application. Priority applications will be placed at the front of the queue to be processed. The priority service fee is £100 for non-settlement applications and £300 for settlement applications. You can only pay for the service online before visiting the biometric enrolment centre. You must bring your priority visa service receipt with you when you attend your appointment. You cannot purchase the priority service at the biometric enrolment centre in Adelaide.

Use of the priority visa service is optional and does not imply or guarantee that your visa application will be successful. All visa applicants must meet the requirements of the UK Immigration Rules. The fee for the priority service and the visa application fee are not refundable if your visa application is refused.

Priority service processing times

We aim to process all non-settlement priority visa service applications made in Australia within 5 working days and all settlement applications made in Australia within 10 working days.

Your application may take longer if you:

  • do not include the priority service receipt with your application, or you submit it afterwards. Please ensure this receipt is stapled to the front of the application form, and write ‘priority’ on the front of your envelope
  • have previously been refused a visa for the UK, or refused leave to enter the UK
  • have previously been deported, removed, or otherwise required to leave the UK
  • have overstayed a period of leave in the UK
  • have previously been refused a visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA or the Schengen countries
  • have been convicted of a criminal offence in any country
  • do not submit all relevant documentation with your application

If you are wanting to apply for a UK visa from Australia and you suspect that your application may take longer due to any of the reasons listed above or for some other reason then you may well benefit from having expert legal advice and assistance. We are specialists in all aspects of UK immigration law and policy and provide a boutique service to select clients. Email us your enquiry to info@solicitorsfirm.com and we will respond promptly with sensible and useful advice.

Syria is now the main country of origin of asylum seekers in the 44 industrialised countries

Sharp rise of asylum applications from Syrians in industrialised countries


Syria is now the main country of origin of asylum seekers in the 44 industrialised countries addressed in UNHCR’s Asylum Trends 2013 report. Around 56,400 Syrians sought protection in these 44 states in 2013, which is more than double the number of asylum seekers from that country in 2012 (25,200 claims) and six times more than in 2011 (8,500 claims). UNHCR stresses that the 2013 level is the highest amount of protection claims recorded by a single group in one year among the industrialised countries since 1999.

Sweden (16,300 claims) and Germany (11,900 claims) received the most asylum seekers from Syria and Bulgaria, the Netherlands, the UK and Austria were also important destination countries for Syrians. With the exception of five countries (Cyprus, Finland, Japan, Latvia and New Zealand), asylum applications from Syrians increased in all industrialized countries. Turkey, with 649,302 Syrian registered refugees,hosts the most refugees fleeing the crisis in Europe.

484,600 asylum claims were registered in the 38 European countries in 2013, the highest number since 2001. This represents a 32% increase from 2012, both in the EU and the wider Europe, the report states. According to the report between 2009 and 2013, amongst the European countries, Germany received the largest number of new asylum seekers (288,800 claims), followed by Sweden (138,800 claims), and the UK (138,800 claims).

After Syria, people fleeing the Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Serbia (including Kosovo), were the largest groups seeking refuge in the 44 industrialized countries in 2013.

For further information: