I am just going to tell you all my little citizenship story.
I did a little over 6 years for the British Army and went on two tours for them. A United Nations tour of Cyprus, and Iraq in 2003. the pre requisite time in the U.K is 4 years in approved employment, and I did a couple years more because I wanted to go to Cyprus, and then Iraq came up and I wanted to go to that. I was not allowed to apply for indefinite leave to remain whilst still serving and had to wait till I got out so I could have just jumped ship at 4 years and been a citizen by now.
I applied for citizenship at the end of last year after waiting the required 1 year after getting my ILR, my application was originally returned to me because according to them I had failed to include my knowledge of life in the UK test result, which was in fact stapled to the application. I obviously complained and sent the application back, with the test result un- stapled and put on top of the application so it would be the first thing they saw.
Latest news from just a couple weeks ago, I received my reply from IND. They turned me down. They turned me down for the heinous crime of having a conviction for driving without a seatbelt a year ago. Firstly I wasnÂ’t the driver, I almost never drive in the UK if I can help it. But secondly, the INDÂ’s own guide that comes with the application states in section 4 Good Character 4.6 Â“You must give details of all criminal convictions. These include road traffic offences, but not fixed penalty notices which have not been given in a court. Fixed penalty notices include parking and speeding offences. Drink driving offences must be declaredÂ” and on reading the webpage http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/.../road-traffic/
it says Â“If youÂ’ve committed a minor traffic offence, like not wearing a seatbelt or driving with a broken headlight, the police may issue you with a one-off fine called a fixed penalty notice.Non-endorsable offences - meaning those which donÂ’t result in points on your licence, like driving while talking on a mobile phone - usually incur a fine of Â£30.Â”
Since the fine is a fixed penalty fine as stated on a home office webpage and it was issued after the car was pulled over, on a roadside and not in a court, it seems quite clear that they cannot use this as a basis for denying me citizenship just by using their own guide to determine this.
Another point that really irked me was that they said, because of this Â‘convictionÂ’ I have not proved that I am of good character. As if failure to wear a seatbelt has any bearing on a personÂ’s character. Included in my application as supporting evidence, I included every annual report I received in the Army, my tour reports, which are all very complimentary and my certificate of service which I was issued on discharge, which has on it along with an awesome testimonial, the record of my military conduct, which was exemplary (their words not mine)
So I have appealed their decision, using the above quotes and all the statements on my reports made by my senior officers. I have also got in touch with my local MP. The thought has crossed my mind that this was payback for making a complaint.
Now I just have to sit and wait and the date of expiration on my South African passport draws rapidly nearer. Oh yeah with this whole Â‘anti-mercenaryÂ’ law on the way, and I know for a fact that my name was released to the SA govt regarding certain activities and incidents in Iraq, I have absolutely no desire to renew, I was actually hoping to renounce as soon as the British citizenship comes through.
I will let you know how this all turns out.