This guidance relates to mandatory and discretionary general grounds for refusal under paragraphs 320, 321 and 322 of Immigration Rules for PBS and Non-PBS entry clearance, leave to remain, extension and ILR applications such as startup, innovator, Tier 1, Tier 2 Work, Tier 4 Students, Tier 5 etc. 

General Grounds for Refusal under the Immigration Rules

Apparently, an application, in additional to the relevant eligibility grounds, is also considered on the general grounds. Therefore, the scope of general grounds is quite broad and sweeping. And a rejection on general grounds for refusal may also lead to 1-10 years ban. However, a decision maker can’t refuse an application on general grounds without giving reasons and the relevant evidence.

Decision Maker Needs to Provide Evidence

Please note, a decision maker needs to explain the details of a refusal on general grounds. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Home Office/ECO to check the evidence before refusing an application on general grounds. Accordingly, the decision-maker may undertake standard checks. However, where appropriate may gather further information through interviews, local sources of information, medical examinations etc. In fact, Home Office usually undertakes verification checks if

  • it is undesirable to allow the person to remain in the UK based on their character, conduct or associations
  • the applicant pose a threat to national security
  • the person meets the criminality threshold applicable for deportation
  • there are serious grounds for considering the person has committed or involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity
  • there are serious grounds for considering the person is a member of a proscribed group, or has been guilty of acts contrary to the purpose and principles of the United Nations (UN) such as terrorism
  • the person is subject to a travel ban imposed by the UN or European Union (EU)

A Checklist of UK Visa Refusal on General Grounds

In a nutshell, paragraphs 320 to 322 of the Immigration Rules provides the details of general grounds for refusal due to:

  1. Adverse Immigration History
  2. Purpose not covered in the immigration rules
  3. Deportation Orders
  4. Criminal Conviction
  5. Failure to Produce a Valid Passport
  6. Exclusion is conducive to the public good
  7. Deception Ban
  8. Re entry Ban
  9. Failure to attend an interview
  10. Applicant failed to give Information in reasonable time
  11. Refusal on Medical Grounds
  12. Failure to Meet the Requirements of a Returning Resident
  13. Breached Immigration Rules
  14. No ability to return
  15. No written sponsor undertaking
  16. Child under 18, no written parental consent
  17. Non-Custodial Sentence
  18. Offending causing serious harm
  19. Persistent Offending
  20. Applicant not conducive to public good
  21. Failure to pay NHS charges
  22. Litigation Debt
  23. Exclusion from Refugee Convention
  24. Failed to comply with conditions of stay
  25. Failed to Maintain and Accommodate without Public Funds
  26. Applicant failed to Honour a declaration or an undertaking

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1. Adverse Immigration History

An application refused due to adverse immigration history under paragraphs 320(7B), 320(11), 322(3) and 322(4) if a person has broken the UK immigration laws by having:

  • been an illegal entrant – paragraphs 320(7B) and 320(11)
  • overstayed – paragraphs 320(7B) and 320(11)
  • breached a condition attached to their leave – paragraphs 320(7B) and 320(11)
  • used deception in a previous application – paragraphs 320(7B) and 320(11)
  • failed to maintain or accommodate themselves and any dependants without accessing public funds – paragraph 322(4) 

2. Purpose not covered in the immigration rules

If the Immigration Rules does not cover the purpose of an entry clearance application then it rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(1). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(1) of Immigration Rules. 

3. Deportation Orders

If the an applicant is subject to Deportation Orders then an entry clearance application rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(2)(a) of Immigration Rules. And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(1B) of Immigration Rules.

4. Criminal Conviction

If a person is convicted of an offence for which he/she has sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years then the rejection letter states the general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(2)(b) with a 10-year ban.

If an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which he/she has been sentenced to a period of at least 12 months but less than four years, unless a period of 10 years has passed since the end of the sentence, then the rejection letter cites the general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(2)(c) with a 5-year ban.

If an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which he/she has been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of less than 12 months, unless a period of five years has passed since the end of the sentence, then the rejection letter cites the general grounds for refusal with reference to paragraph 320(2)(d) along with a possible 1-year ban.

ILR

An ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 322(1C), if

  • the applicant has been convicted of an offence for which he/she has been sentenced to imprisonment for at least 4 years
  • an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which he/she has been sentenced to imprisonment for at least 12 months but less than 4 years, unless a period of 15 years has passed since the end of the sentence
  • the application has been convicted of an offence for which he/she has been sentenced to imprisonment for less than 12 months, unless a period of 7 years has passed since the end of the sentence
  • the applicant within the 24 months preceding the date of the application has been convicted of or admitted an offence for which he/she has received a non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on his/her criminal record 

5. Failure to Produce a Valid Passport

If an applicant has not produced a valid passport then the UK visa rejects on general grounds of refusal under paragraph 320(3) of Immigration Rules. However, if an applicant does not produce a valid passport or travel document and the state is not recognised by the UK government then the application refused on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(10) of the Immigration Rules. 

6. Exclusion is conducive to the public good

If the Secretary of State has personally directed that the applicant’s exclusion from the UK is conducive to the public good then the UK visa rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(6) of Immigration Rules. For instance, a person’s exclusive is conducive to public good if:

  • he/she is a member of a proscribed group
  • his/her presence is undesirable because of character, conduct or associations
  • his/her presence might lead to an infringement of UK law or a breach of public order
  • he/she is suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity
  • his/her presence may lead to an offence being committed by someone else 

7. Deception Ban

If an applicant has used false representation, false documents and/or not disclosed material facts then application rejects with a 10-year Deception Ban under paragraph 320(7A) of Immigration Rules). Perhaps, the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) may also consider whether paragraph 320(11) of Immigration Rules is applicable. However, the ECO needs to refer the application to the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) before making a decision.

Leave to remain and ILR applications

In fact, a leave to remain (extension or ILR) application rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 322(1A) for the use of deception, material facts not disclosed, false documents and false representation. Moreover, if an applicant had used false representation relation to a previous application then a leave to remain application rejects under paragraph 322(2). Finally, if an applicant used false representation in relation to a current or previous application to get a document from the Secretary of State to show the applicant has a right to reside in the UK then a leave to remain application is rejected on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 322(2) or 322(2A) of Immigration Rules. 

8. Re entry Ban

If an applicant has previously breached UK immigration laws (and was 18 or over at the time or the most recent breach) then the UK visa refused with a 1-10 years Re-Entry Ban UK under paragraph 320(7B). However, the ECO needs to refer the application to the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) before making a decision. 

9. Failure to attend an interview

If an applicant has failed to comply with a request made on behalf of the entry clearance officer to attend for interview without providing a reasonable explanation then the application rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(7D) of Immigration Rules. And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(10) of Immigration Rules.

The burden of proof

The burden of proof is on the applicant to show he/she has a good reason for failing to attend the interview. It will only be in rare cases that the applicant has a good reason not to attend. An example of a good reason may be where the applicant can provide satisfactory medical evidence to show they were too ill to attend, and is willing to attend an interview on another date as soon as they have recovered. 

10. Applicant failed to give Information in reasonable time

If an applicant fails to provide information, biometrics, medical report or to undergo a medical examination without reasonable excuse then an entry clearance application rejects on discretionary general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(8A) of Immigration Rules. And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(9) of Immigration Rules.

11. Medical Grounds

A person having a medical disease or condition may get refusal on general ground. Accordingly, paragraphs 320(7), 320(8A), 320(17) and 321A(3) of the rules may apply if a medical inspector issues a certificate that a person’s condition is a significant risk to public health. However, the entry clearance officer (ECO) or Home Office officer has discretion to waive the medical requirement in certain circumstances.

In fact, an application rejects on medical grounds if medical evidence shows that the applicant is suffering from:

  • pulmonary tuberculosis
  • venereal disease
  • leprosy
  • trachoma

Moreover, there are certain medical grounds which may necessitate medical clearance such as:

  • a mental disorder or senility
  • conduct disorder. For instance, drug abuse, alcoholism, serious sexual aberration
  • the person is heavily infested with lice, bodily dirty or suffering from scabies etc
  • the nature of the person’s condition would interfere with their ability to support themselves or their dependents
  • a serious or terminal illness 

12. Failure to Meet the Requirements of a Returning Resident

If an applicant fails to meet the requirements of a returning resident then an application rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(9) of Immigration Rules. 

13. Breached Immigration Rules

If an applicant is an illegal entrant or has overstayed, breached a condition attached to their leave, or used deception in a previous application then an entry clearance application rejects on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(11) of Immigration Rules. 

14. No ability to return

If an applicant has failed to satisfy in the application that he/she will be admitted to another country after a stay in the UK then the application is refused on general grounds for under 320(13) of Immigration Rules. And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(8) of Immigration Rules. 

15. No written sponsor undertaking

If an applicant’s sponsor refuses to state in writing that they will maintain and accommodate the applicant then the application rejects under 320(14). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(6) of Immigration Rules. 

16. Child under 18, no written parental consent

If an applicant under the age of 18, has not provided with the written consent of his/her parent(s) or guardian then the rejection letter states the general grounds for refusal with reference to 320(16) of Immigration Rules. And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(11) of Immigration Rules. 

17. Non-Custodial Sentence

If an applicant has been convicted of or admitted an offence for which they received a non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on their criminal record within the 12 months prior to the date on which the application is decided then rejection letter states the reasons citing general grounds for refusal under paragraph 320(18A).

18. Offending causing serious harm

If in the view of the Secretary of State the applicant’s offending has caused serious harm then the application is refused under V320(18B). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(5A)(a) or 322(5A)(b) for offending which cause serious harm. Perhaps, an offence which causes serious harm includes, but is not limited to, causing death or serious injury to an individual or group of individuals. Therefore, an immigration officer assesses the offence and the impact of the offence to decide what action to take.

The consequences of the person’s actions

In fact, an applicant does not need to be convicted for specifically causing a particular offence which makes them culpable to the criminal standard. For example, the applicant committed a serious offence but convicted of a lesser one because it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt they were guilty of the more serious offence. Instead, the immigration officer looks at the consequences of the person’s action(s) which caused them to be charged with an offence. Accordingly, the immigration officer looks at the circumstances and consequences of the incident(s) in question. For example, a person charged with driving without insurance or driving whilst under the influence. However, if this led to a death or serious injury (other than their own), because the offence may have attracted a lot of public interest then may:

  • refuse the application
  • prevent their entry to the UK
  • pursue the person’s deportation or removal from the UK
The impact of the actions

Moreover, the Home Office also assesses the consequences of the action(s), and considers the impact the
offence had on the victim(s). Perhaps, a serious harm may cause death or serious physical injury, but may also include:

  • manslaughter
  • dangerous driving
  • driving whilst under the influence of drink and/or drugs
  • the supply of drugs which directly causes the death of an individual
  • robbery, particular if the victim is elderly or vulnerable
  • arson 

19. Persistent Offending

If in the view of the Secretary of State the applicant is a persistent offender who has shown a particular disregard for the law then the application is refused under V320(18B). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(5A)(a) or 322(5A)(b) for persistent offending.

Who is a persistent offender?

A persistent offender is a person who has shown a particular disregard for the law. Accordingly, involves a case-specific assessment of the nature, extent, seriousness and impact of the person’s offending.

Perhaps, before refusing an application under general grounds for persist offening, the Home Office looks at how many offences have been committed by the individual. However, there is no minimum number of offences to trigger consideration of whether refusal of an application or consideration of deportation might be appropriate. Before you reach a decision about persistence and whether it is in the public interest to refuse the application and/or pursue their deportation or removal from the UK, the Home Office looks at the pattern of offending in the
round and consider:

  • the seriousness of those offences including the degree of public nuisance and the cost of reoffending
  • any escalation in seriousness of the offence
  • the timescale over which the offences were committed. For instance, a person who has committed four offences in the 10 years they have spent in the UK might not be viewed as a persistent offender. However, a person who commits three offences in just six months residence might be considered as a persistent offender.
  • the frequency of the committed offences
  • Any action taken to address the cause of the offending. For example, treatments aimed at reduction on alcohol, drug dependency or anger management etc. 

20. Applicant not conducive to public good

If an applicant is not conducive to the public good due character, criminality, behaviour, conduct or associations, security, travel bans, war crimes, criminal prosecution then the refusal letter explains the UK visa rejection reasons with reference to paragraph 320(19). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(5) of Immigration Rules. Please note, as explained in the next section, a general ground refusal due to character, conduct and association has very wide implications. 

21. Failure to pay NHS charges

If National Health Service (NHS) notifies the Secretary of State that the person seeking entry or leave to enter has an outstanding healthcare debt or cumulative debt of £1000 or more incurred between 1 November 2011 and 5 April 2016, or debts of £500 or more incurred on or after 6 April 2016, or further charges after 6 April 2016 bringing the total outstanding NHS debt since 1 November 2011 to over £1000 then the refusal letter states the UK general visitor refusal reasons citing 320(22). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(12) of Immigration Rules. 

22. Litigation Debt

If an applicant has failed to pay litigation costs awarded to the Home Office then refusal letter explains the UK visa rejection reasons with reference to 320(23). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(13) of Immigration Rules. 

23. Exclusion from Refugee Convention

If the applicant is excluded from the Refugee Convention and humanitarian protection then a leave to remain or ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under para 322(1E) of Immigration Rules. 

24. Failed to comply with conditions of stay

If an applicant fails to comply with conditions of stay then a leave to remain application rejects on general grounds of refusal under paragraph 322(3). 

25. Failed to Maintain and Accommodate without Public Funds

If an applicant fails to maintain and accommodate without using public funds then a leave to remain application rejects on general grounds of refusal under paragraph 322(4). 

26. Applicant failed to Honour a declaration or an undertaking

If an applicant fails to honour any declaration or undertaking given orally or in writing in relation to their intended purpose or duration and/or purpose of their stay then a leave to remain or ILR application refuse on general grounds of refusal under para 322(7) of Immigration Rules.

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Refusal due to Conduct or Character

If an applicant is not conducive to the public good due character, criminality, behaviour, conduct or associations, security, travel bans, war crimes, criminal prosecution then the refusal letter explains the UK visa rejection reasons with reference to paragraph 320(19). And a leave to remain and ILR application rejects on general grounds for refusal under 322(5) of Immigration Rules. Please note a general ground refusal due to character, conduct and association has very wide implication may include:

  1. Assisting in the evasion of immigration control
  2. Unfavourably affecting relations between the UK and elsewhere
  3. Employment of illegal workers
  4. Deceitful or dishonest dealings with Her Majesty’s Government
  5. Failing to declare convictions
  6. Travel Ban
  7. Threat to national security
  8. Corruption
  9. Proceeds of crime and finances of questionable origins
  10. Deliberate debting
  11. Unacceptable behaviours
  12. Proscribed organisations
  13. Public order risks
  14. Involvement with gangs
  15. Low-level criminal-related activity

Accordingly, Home Office assesses the cumulative grounds for refusing an application on character, conduct or associations grounds if a person falls under more than one of the categories included in this section or there are other reasons for considering refusal. However, the Home Office usually informs the details of general grounds for refusal. And if applicable, also explain why a particular course of action, (for instance, deportation) is being considered or pursued. Therefore, it is not enough to simply refuse a person on ‘character, conduct and/or associations’ grounds without explaining why.

1. Assisting in the evasion of immigration control

Quite clearly, the Home Office refuses an application under character, conduct and associations grounds where there is reliable evidence to suggest an applicant is currently, or has previously been, involved in an attempt
to assist someone in the evasion of immigration control. Perhaps, this may include:

  • providing false documents to assist people in the application process
  • facilitating illegal entry
  • facilitating, assisting with the arrangement of, attempting to enter or entering into a sham marriage 

2. Unfavourably affecting relations between the UK and elsewhere

When a person’s presence in the UK could unfavourably affect foreign policy, then Home Office refuses the application under character, conduct and associations grounds because it is undesirable to allow them to enter or remain in the UK. 

3. Employment of illegal workers

If there is reliable evidence to suggest that an applicant has employed illegal workers, then general grounds for refusal under character, conduct and associations grounds is applicable. Please note, illegal working causes damaging social and economic problems for the UK. And also undercuts businesses that operate within the law, undermines British workers and exploits migrant workers. 

4. Deceitful or dishonest dealings with Her Majesty’s Government

If a person attempts to deceive or otherwise be clearly dishonest in their dealings with another department of government, they fall for refusal under character, conduct and associations grounds. For instance, this may mean:

  • fraudulently claiming or otherwise defrauding the benefits system
  • providing dishonest information in order to acquire goods or services. For example, providing false details in order to obtain a driving licence
  • provision of false or deliberately misleading information at earlier stages of the immigration application process. For example, providing false bio-data or claiming a false nationality
  • concealing information relating to a conviction

However, the Home Office usually assesses the extent to which false information was provided and what, if anything, was intended or actually gained as a result. For example, Home Office does not normally refuses an application due to genuine mistake on an application form. And also for claiming something to which the applicant reasonably believed or were advised hes/he was entitled. 

5. Failing to declare convictions

Perhaps, there is no specific provision to refuse an application for failing to declare criminal convictions. However, the Home Office usually considers whether a failure to declare conviction amounts to:

  • deception because of false representations
  • false documents or information
  • not disclosing material facts

Accordingly, may reject the application on character and conduct grounds, if a person fails to declare a criminal conviction, especially when explicitly asked to do so on an application form. However, an application is not refused if the decision believes the person has made a genuine error. For example, a person may not be aware that he/she needs to declare a fine for a motoring conviction, however, this is different to a person who fails to declare a conviction which resulted in a period of imprisonment.

Please note, from 1 October 2012, in term of section 56A of the UK Borders Act 2007, an applicant needs to declare spent as well as unspent criminal convictions. 

6. Travel Ban

The Immigration Rules do not specifically refer to a travel ban in the general grounds for refusal. However, when a non-British national is subject to a United Nations (UN) or European Union (EU) travel ban, the UK has to prevent their entry to or transit through the UK. Moreover, the Home Office may also cancel or curtail a leave to enter or remain in the UK due to a travel ban. And refuses a leave to enter or remain under 320(19) or 322(5), if the person’s presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good due to a travel ban, unless:

  • UN or EU has agreed to provide a specific exemption
  • this engages UK’s international obligations (Refugee Convention or ECHR). And the person does not fall for refusal under paragraph 322(1E) 

7. Threat to national security

If an applicant is threat to national security then the application rejects on general ground for refusal under paragraphs 320(19), 321A(5), and 322(5) of Immigration Rules. 

8. Corruption

In fact, general grounds for refusal are applicable if an applicant has been involved in a state-level corruption. Certainly, corruption undermines legitimate democracies. Therefore, if applicant has been involved or complicit in corruption, then the application refused under character, conduct and associations grounds. 

9. Proceeds of crime and finances of questionable origins

If there is reliable information available that an applicant has benefitted from the proceeds of crime, particularly where that financing is directly relevant to their application to enter or remain in the UK such as Tier 1 Investor visa route, then the application refused under character, conduct and associations grounds. 

10. Deliberate debting

Quite clearly, an application does not reject under general grounds of refusal if a person is in debt. Perhaps, especially if he/she is making regular repayments or putting efforts to pay off accumulated debts. However, if a person is deliberately and recklessly building up debts. And there is no evidence of a serious intention to pay the debts then the application rejects under character, conduct and associations grounds. 

11. Unacceptable behaviours

In fact, general grounds for refusal relating to character, conduct and associations are applicable, if the applicant has been engaged in writing, producing, publishing or distributing objectionable material, public speaking including preaching, running a website, using a position of responsibility (such as teacher, community or youth leader) to express views which:

  • foment (instigate or encourage), justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs
  • seek to provoke others to terrorist acts
  • foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts
  • foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK 

12. Proscribed organisations

The Terrorism Act 2000 created numerous offences linked to the support, organisation and/or membership of a proscribed organisation. An organisation is proscribed if it

  • commits or participates in acts of terrorism
  • prepares for terrorism
  • promotes or encourages terrorism
  • is otherwise concerned in terrorism

Therefore, if an applicant is a member, supporter or financer, or claims to be one, of one of the organisations listed, then the application rejects on general grounds for refusal under character, conduct and associations grounds. 

13. Public order risks

If the applicant has been engaged in activities that may give rise to a risk to public order then the application rejects under character, conduct and associations grounds. Perhaps, examples of public order risk may include:

  • the person has made speeches (or similar) with the aim of inciting ethnic and/or racial, religious or other discriminatory violence
  • the person intends to come to the UK to make such speeches (or similar)
  • admitting the person may lead to an offence being committed by someone else. For example, the applicant may have extreme views which if expressed could result in civil unrest and a breach of the law
  • the person has advocated violent disorder or violent overthrow of the state. This does not need to be politically motivated. For example, a known football hooligan could be regarded as a public order risk 

14. Involvement with gangs

If there is reliable information that the applicant is involved with a gang then the applications rejects under the character, conduct and association provision. However, in doing so the Home Office considers the conduct of the individual and also the known impact of the gang’s activities. Therefore, more senior or involved a person is in a gang, the more likely it is that refusal is justified. Moreover, the more prominent and active the gang is, without the person being particularly senior, the more likely that refusal is justified. 

15. Low-level criminal-related activity

Perhaps, it is quite unlikely an application is refused under the character, conduct or associations grounds for a single conviction that results in a non-custodial sentence outside the relevant timeframe. However, the greater the number of cautions, warnings, absolute and/or conditional discharges and admonishments on a person’s record, the more likely it is that the character and conduct provisions are applicable. In fact, the Home Office may consider refusing such applications under general grounds for persistent offenders.

General Grounds for Refusal Due to Non-Custodial Sentence

In fact, an entry clearance application is refused if an applicant has been convicted of or admitted an offence for which they received a non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on their criminal record within the 12 months prior to the date on which the application is decided under paragraph 320(18A) relating to general grounds for refusal. Moreover, an ILR application is refused on general grounds for refusal under paragraph 322(1C), if the applicant within the 24 months preceding the date of the application has been convicted of or admitted an offence for which he/she has received a non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on his/her criminal record.

Apparently, a refusal under general grounds for non-custodial sentence may relate to:

  1. fines
  2. fixed penalty notices
  3. cautions, warnings and reprimands
  4. absolute and conditional discharges
  5. binding over
  6. non-custodial sentences and orders
  7. disqualifications from driving

1. Fines

A fine is a non-custodial sentence which forms part of a person’s criminal record. Therefore, if a person has a fine, regardless of the size and/or amount of the fine within the relevant timeframe, an applicant is rejected. Moreover, if an applicant has received multiple fines, whether within the relevant timeframe or not, or one or more fines alongside other non-custodial sentences, particularly over a short period of time, then the Home Office also considers a refusal under the persistent offender and/or the character, conduct and associations. 

2. Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN)

Perhaps, for fairly minor offences a court may issue a fixed penalty notice (FPN), penalty charge notice (PCN), or penalty notice for disorder (PND). In fact, receiving such notices does not form part of a person’s criminal record as there is no admission of guilt. Apparently, usually such notices are disregarded, with the following exceptions:

  • if there are criminal proceedings for failure to pay. And the individual receives a more serious penalty as a result. Therefore, this new penalty becomes starting point for considering if the applicant is refused within a different refusal category. Or
  • if the person has multiple penalty notices, or one or more penalty notices alongside other non-custodial sentences, particularly over a short period of time then the Home Office may also consider refusal under general grounds for character, conduct and associations 

3. Cautions, warnings and reprimands

Perhaps, there are two types of Police cautions administered in the UK i.e. a simple caution and a conditional caution, which has specific conditions attached that a offender must need to satisfy. Moreover, reprimands and final warnings are quite similar to cautions but are only issued persons aged 17 or under. In fact, a police caution forms part of a person’s criminal record. Therefore, if an applicant has a caution within the relevant timeframe then the applications rejects under general grounds for refusal. Moreover, if an applicant has multiple cautions, or one or more cautions alongside other non-custodial sentences, particularly over a short period of time, then the application may also get refused under general grounds for persistent offender and/or character, conduct and associations. 

4. Absolute and conditional discharges

Quite clearly, a discharge is a type of sentence where the person is found guilty of an offence but the person don’t receive any punishment. In the UK, there are two types of discharges:

  • A conditional discharge adds a condition where, provided no further offence is committed in a period set by the court, no specific penalty is applied for the specific offence. However, if a person commits another offence during that time, they can be sentenced for the first offence and also for the new one.
  • An absolute discharge is unconditional. It is a sentence for which the court decides the experience of going to court is punishment enough. However, the offender still gets a criminal record

Apparently, both conditional and absolute discharges form a part of a person’s criminal record. And count as a non-custodial sentence for immigration purposes. Therefore, if an applicant has a discharge within the relevant timeframe then the application rejects on general grounds for refusal. Moreover, if an applicant had and/or has multiple discharges, or one or more multiple discharges alongside other non-custodial sentences, particularly over a short period of time, then application may also refuse under the persistent offender and/or character, conduct and associations. 

5. Binding over

A bind over is a power exercised by a court as an alternative to prosecution for a criminal offence. In fact, binding over generally involves an agreement by the person concerned to be of good behaviour or to keep the peace. Moreover, binding over does not form part of a person’s criminal record. Therefore, are usually disregarded for the purposes of counting as a conviction for an offence.

Perhaps, it is unlikely a person will receive multiple bind overs, given they are designed to be used for incidents that are one-offs. However, if a person has received multiple bind overs, or one or more bind overs alongside other non-custodial sentences, particularly over a short period of time, then the application may refuse under the persistent offender and/or the character, conduct and associations. 

6. Non-custodial sentences and orders

The non-custodial sentences and orders may relate to:

  1. Hospital and restriction orders
  2. Community sentences and orders
  3. Anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs)
Hospital and restriction orders

In the UK, a court may order the detention in hospital of mentally disordered offenders by making a hospital order. Moreover, in certain circumstances, a Crown Court may impose a restriction order alongside a hospital order.

In fact, a hospital order forms a part of a person’s criminal record. And counts as a non-custodial sentence for immigration purposes. Therefore, if an applicant has received one within the relevant timeframe then an application rejects on general grounds for refusal.

Community sentences and orders

A community sentence is issued when a person is convicted of a crime by a court but is not sent to prison. Therefore, community sentences allow offenders to undertake rehabilitation programmes. And also work in the community whilst under the supervision of the Probation Service. In fact, a community order allows judges and magistrates to tailor the community sentences to fit the needs of the offender. Accordingly, this can include:

  • supervision
  • compulsory unpaid work
  • participation in specified activities
  • prohibition from undertaking specific activities
  • undertaking accredited programmes
  • curfew
  • exclusion from specified areas
  • a residence requirement
  • mental health treatment
  • drug rehabilitation
  • alcohol treatment, and/or
  • attendance centre

Apparently, the imposition of one, more or all of the above form a part of a person’s criminal record. Therefore counts as a non-custodial sentence for immigration purposes. Accordingly, if an applicant has such a sentence then the application rejects under general grounds for refusal.

Moreover, if an applicant has multiple community sentences, or one or more community sentences alongside other non-custodial sentences, particularly over a short period of time, then the application is also considered for refusal under the persistent offender and/or ‘character, conduct and associations category.

Anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs)

An ASBO is a civil order considered by the courts in its civil jurisdiction. Therefore, ASBO is a civil order, which does not count as a conviction for immigration purposes. However, breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence and conviction may result in up to five years imprisonment. Accordingly, the Home Office disregards an ASBO as a conviction, but may consider if a refusal under the ‘persistent offender’ and/or ‘character, conduct and associations’ category is appropriate. 

7. Non-custodial sentences: disqualifications from driving

In the UK, a person disqualified from driving if he/she is convicted of a driving offence or receives 12 or more penalty points (endorsements) within three years or two years for recently qualified drivers. Accordingly, the court decides the length of disqualification depending on the seriousness of offence. Moreover, a disqualification from driving can be in addition to, or instead of, any other sentence.

The disqualification forms part of a person’s criminal record. And counts as a non-custodial sentence for immigration purposes. Therefore, if an applicant receives a disqualification from driving then the application refuses within under general grounds for refusal. Moreover, the Home Office also considers the events causing disqualification from driving to refuse under the serious harm, persistent offender and/or character, conduct and associations category.

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