New rules are set to come into force aimed at preventing serious criminals gaining British citizenship.
Changes to the “good character” requirement of citizenship applications from Monday will see tougher rules applied to anyone who has received a 12-month prison sentence.
Currently an attempt to gain British citizenship will normally be refused if an individual has received a four-year jail term.
Previously an application was also likely to be rejected from anyone who has served between 12 months and four years in prison until 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence.
Anyone who had spent less than a year in prison also faced an application being rejected until 10 years had passed.
The changes bring the system into line with immigration rules, with new rules designed to be “stricter” and “more specific” on the so-called “good character” requirements.
The Home Office said the reforms will remove the previous rules whereby some criminals could be granted citizenship after a certain number of years have passed.
“British citizenship is a privilege,” said Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
“Those who commit crimes shouldn’t be able to enjoy the breadth of rights citizenship brings, including holding a British passport, voting and accessing free medical care from the NHS.
“I am cracking down on abuse of the UK’s immigration and nationality system, by introducing a tougher threshold so that serious criminals cannot gain British citizenship.
“This is the fair and right thing to do for our country.”
There will be exceptions to the new rules and the Home Office said some people could show mitigating circumstances which could support a citizenship bid.