The UK Home Office has reviewed and made changes to its application communication processes following concerns raised by immigration specialists at DavidsonMorris.
In a letter received from a Home Office caseworker this April, we have been informed that process changes are expected in particular to impact applications for naturalisation as a British citizen.
The letter also provides feedback on the team at DavidsonMorris, praising the firm’s “professionalism and diligence” in managing the client’s application.
Issues raised during naturalisation application
Our concerns stemmed from a specific application for British citizenship we were handling on behalf of a client.
We submitted this particular client’s naturalisation application on 17 September 2018.
On 28 September 2018 we received an acknowledgment letter from the Home Office, and an invitation for the client to submit their biometric information.
We then awaited further communication from the Home Office.
Typically, naturalisation applications are processed within 2-3 months. This particular client’s application was based on an Indefinite Leave to Remain granted on the basis of 10 year long residence. As such, it was reasonable to expect the caseworkers may have wanted to check the information they hold and the documents provided in more detail.
As the standard processing time for naturalisation applications is 6 months, the Home Office will usually inform applicants if their application will not be processed and decided within this target period.
In this instance, however, neither our client nor we received any correspondence from the Home Office regarding the application after 28 September 2018. They should have written to us, or the client, to inform us of the delay and indicate how long it will take to finish processing.
On 18 March 2019, 6 months after submission of the application, we sent a follow up letter to the Home Office regarding the status of the client’s application.
Home Office response
On 4 April 2019, we received a very apologetic email response from the caseworker – who it transpires had been assigned the matter on that date! – informing us of a delay in processing requests. This was followed by another email on 8 April to inform us that the consideration process had been completed. On 10 April, we received the decision letter, in favour of our client’s application, as well as a further letter, which read:
“I enclose a later about your client’s application for British citizenship.
“I would like to thank you for your additional patience, as requested in my first email correspondence. Your professionalism and diligence with your client’s application is greatly appreciated and has led, in part, to a review of how the Home Office communicates with its customers and subsequent changes made, particularly in relation to applications for naturalisation as a British citizen.
“Hopefully, you will find future experiences to be better communicated.
“Once again, thank you for your support in our consideration process and my apologies for the inconvenience that has been caused by our previous communication failures.
I hope that your client finds the outcome, our apologies and subsequent action, acceptable.”
What does this mean for Home Office applications?
We now look forward to improved communication from the Home Office in respect of applications such as naturalisation.
Citizenship processing times can seem lengthy for applicants, particularly since they have to surrender their passports during processing. It is crucial that the Home Office has processes in place that will ensure applications are picked up promptly and progressed as required, and that we are made aware swiftly of any caseworker queries relating to the application to avoid further delay in decision-making.
For help and advice with UK naturalisation, speak to our experts!
A team of immigration solicitors and former Home Office workers, DavidsonMorris are specialists in British citizenship applications.
This latest feedback on our services and approach to managing citizenship applications is testament to our exceptional understanding and insight into Home Office protocol and processes, which enable us to take a highly effective and efficient approach to applications such as naturalisation.