Can I Get a Visa or Citizenship in The UK If I Have Debt in The UK or Elsewhere in The World?
We have previously discussed how the world has gotten smaller, and with all the travelling and moving about we do, it was inevitable that people would move to another country, live there, get accustomed to the lifestyle, take out loans, and unfortunately for some reason, have to move on to somewhere new, or back to their home country; leaving accounts and debts behind.
Just because the world has gotten smaller, doesn’t mean taking out loans and finding oneself in debt has also reduced itself. The fact is we are hearing more and more about people leaving the UK to live in another country, taking out a loan to buy a car, property, or a credit card, or personal loan, and then for whatever reason needing to move back to their home country, and being chased for payments for the loan, where ever they may now live in the world.
This in itself can be stressful, however, if you couple it with the concern and worry about getting a Visa or Citizenship, then it becomes very stressful.
Let’s look at a few scenarios using the examples of someone who is living in the UK, has a Visa to live here, and needs to either renew their Visa or get a new Visa to stay in the UK, or someone looking for Citizenship here in the UK, however, in both instances, the person had debts here in the UK, and possibly has defaulted on those debts, or is in arrears with payments.
One comment to make about these situations is that here in UK, there are no travel restrictions for being in debt or owing money.
This means you can leave the UK, and return to the UK, even if you owe money here in the UK.
A few years back, some people who owed money for TV licenses or Council Tax were detained at a few select airports and required to pay their fines, this has seemed to be stopped after much negative press.
We first need to preface these scenarios with the fact that these are cases where someone is already living in the UK, and seeing to either renew a Visa to stay here in the UK, or seeking to convert their Visa to becoming naturalised and becoming a Citizen.
The other side of this issue, which is living abroad in another country and seeking a Visa to enter and live in the UK, and having debts in other countries follows a similar criteria or basis, but immigration laws are changing all the time, in addition to the Brexit, however for now, having debts in another country and seeking to live in the UK, doesn’t seem to be an issue.
For the majority of Visa to come to the UK, while financials may be requested, these are more to show you have a job here in the UK, and can support yourself. Immigration currently does not ask about debts abroad, or who you owe.
Renewing a Visa in the UK With Debt in The UK
In this example, someone has received a Visa that allows them to work and live in the UK, and many of these Visa have a time-frame attached to them, such as five (5) years with some work Visa’s.
At the end of the time frame the Visa is good for, the person needs to either renew the Visa if possible, seek out a new Visa, or if they qualify, apply for and be granted Citizenship.
In applying for a new Visa, depending on how Immigration laws may have changed, the process is usually similar to the process for the original Visa.
And once again, there is no section asking about debts or money owed.
If someone had a five year work Visa to stay in the UK, at the end of those five years, they may wish to apply for an Indefinite Stay Visa, which allows them to live in the UK indefinitely.
Owing money or having debts here in the UK, even if in arrears or having defaulted on a loan, is currently not an issue to receive an Indefinite Visa, only if criminal activities may be associated with the debts, or you have a criminal record.
You will need to show you can support yourself, and in the past, those who were living under a Tier 2 Visa, were required to be earning the same income or more than they were when they were originally approved for that Visa.
Again, Immigration laws change on a regular basis, but there were no questions or issues with owing money or having debts, which you may have established while living here in the UK.
Naturalisation: Getting Citizenship in the UK
Once someone has living in the UK for a certain period of time, and this can vary according to the nature and type of Visa they may have to stay here, they can apply for naturalisation, or become a UK Citizen.
Citizenship here in the UK is a way of taking your living here, even if under an Indefinite Visa, a step further.
Once you become a UK Citizen, You can apply for and receive a British Passport and you are allowed for now, free movement within the EU. The Brexit may or may not change this, but as of this writing, having a British Passport allows you to travel with the EU easily.
And as to not complicate matters, the process of getting UK Citizenship, after all the documentation and highly bureaucratic process of getting a Visa, getting Citizenship is a breath of fresh air.
So once again, being in debt, owing money, is not viewed or an issue in getting Citizenship, however, there is one section on the application form that many have concerns over, and that is the “Good Character Requirement”.
There also is a “sound mind” clause, but that is not something many struggle with.
For just owing money alone or being debt, it would appear that this does not violate or fall under any “good character” requirements.
However, if you are in arrears with your accounts, and if your creditors have filed for CCJ’s/County Court Judgments, or legal actions may have been taken against you due to the accounts, or the debts are associated with criminal actions, there could be an issue in receiving Citizenship.
It’s going to depend on a few factors, and is any criminal behaviour is suspected, then it will be investigated.
Owing money or being in debt in itself is not a crime, so this is not an issue.
Owing municipal fines, Council tax, and other charges, may be viewed differently. Especially as some Councils are vigilant in collecting the tax, and make use of Bailiffs in may instances.
In addition, if someone is in debt and in a Debt Management Plan or some form of repayment plan, this can be seen as taking the proper actions to pay off the accounts, which can be viewed in a good light.
As to if owing these or having CCJ’s will stop you from receiving Citizenship, it may be doubted and doubtful they will, but one does need to be aware of these things.
As we can see, even with Immigration laws changing all the time, being in debt and owing money, unless related to a criminal charge, is not going to impact the majority of those applying to renew a UK Via, get a new UK Visa, or obtain UK Citizenship.