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Mark Carney banks British citizenship

Mark Carney banks British citizenship

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, became a British citizen yesterday. The Canadian-born economist attended Camden Town Hall for the mandatory citizenship ceremony.

Jenny Headlam-Wells, the Mayor of Camden, tweeted a picture of Carney posing in front of Union flag banners yesterday afternoon.

Mr Carney said in a statement that

I was very honoured to have become a British citizen today with the Mayor of Camden and new British citizens from 26 different nationalities.

The moving ceremony reminded me how privileged I am to work with outstanding colleagues from 80 nationalities at the Bank of England as we promote the good of the people of the United Kingdom during this important time for our country.

During the ceremony, applicants take an oath of allegiance or an affirmation (for those would do not want to swear by God) and a pledge. By doing so, applicants promise to respect the laws of the United Kingdom. It is only at that point that they become British citizens, meaning that the ceremony is a mandatory part of the process of naturalising.

The first non-British national to hold the position of Governor of the Bank of England, Mr Carney reportedly promised then-Prime Minister David Cameron when he was appointed that he would become a British citizen. He has been in office since July 2013 but could only now naturalise due to the residence requirements for naturalisation. Before being eligible to apply, the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen — as Mr Carney reportedly is — must have spent at least three years resident in the UK (British Nationality Act 1981, Schedule 1, paragraph 3(a)).

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However, in practice, the residence period is five years because of the additional requirement that the applicant must be free of immigration time restrictions at the date of application (BNA 1981, Schedule 1, paragraph 3(c)). Being free of immigration time restrictions generally means having indefinite leave to remain or EU law permanent residence, both of which take five years to qualify for. Mr Carney, as an Irish as well as Canadian citizen, would qualify for either.

Other naturalisation requirements that doubtless caused the governor little problem are that the applicant be of good character, including a potential probe for “financial soundness”; knowledge of the English language; and passing the Life in the UK test.

It is less obvious how Mr Carney satisfied the Home Office of his intention to settle in the UK — another of the requirements for citizenship. He has said he plans to return to Canada after his term as governor is over in 2020, according to Bloomberg. Where an applicant makes clear that he or she intends to live in the UK for a period but then has plans to establish their principal home abroad in future, the application will normally be refused. [UPDATE: Nath points out that the intention to settle requirement does not apply to those married to a British citizen, so that explains that.]


Conor James McKinney

CJ is Free Movement's deputy editor.

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