Naturalisation. Good character. Financial soundness. NHS debt

If you apply to naturalise as a British citizen, you must be of good character. One of the factors considered when assessing your character is your financial soundness.

Having an outstanding NHS debt may be an issue affecting your financial soundness.

If you have received NHS healthcare as an overseas visitor in the past and have not paid as requested, NHS will notify you and start recovery proceedings, giving you the opportunity to pay by the indicated deadline.

But if a one-off payment is not made, and if there is no agreement to pay by instalments either, HNS will notify the Home Office once the debt has been outstanding for 2 months.

If the debt to NHS is of more than £500, your application for citizenship will be refused. You will not normally be considered to be of good character.

Before reaching a conclusion, the caseworker must write to you and ask you to pay the outstanding NHS debt and provide them with the evidence of payment. If you pay at this stage and send the payment evidence to Home Office, the fact that you had a debt to NHS will not be considered when assessing if you are of good character.

If you miss the opportunity to pay this NHS debt when requested by the caseworker, the debt will affect your financial soundness and the good character requirement.

But even if you pay, you may be found as not being of good character if the caseworker comes to the conclusion that you entered in the UK with the intention of receiving NHS treatment to which you were not entitled. In this case, you may be found as having a history of dishonesty in your dealings with the UK government, which is another, distinct element of the good character requirement.

If you want to apply for British citizenship or for a British passport and need specialist advice, feel free to contact me. Please note that I am an accredited immigration adviser, not an employee of the UK Visas and Immigration. I charge fees for the advice provided.