A new immigration bill will offer foreigners a chance to ‘earn’ citizenship through becoming better integrated into society in the UK.
Under the proposed new ‘path to citizenship’, which was revealed as part of the Queen’s Speech, those who succeed in learning English and passing citizenship tests will have their applications fast-tracked, while those who commit crimes and do not integrate as well will have theirs put on hold.
The Home Office said the bill would “ensure migrants earn the right to stay by implementing the new path to citizenship, with progress slowed down if migrants don’t make an effort to integrate, or commit even minor crimes.
“There will be a number of changes to nationality law, allowing us to shorten or lengthen the qualifying period according to behaviour.”
The Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill will also bring customs and immigration staff together within the UK Border Agency (UKBA), which will also be made responsible for safeguarding the welfare of children involved in immigration proceedings.
The bill will also allow children born to British mothers before 1961 to adopt British citizenship, while previously it could only be passed on through fathers.
However, this has been viewed by some as proof that the Labour Government’s previous immigration policies were not effective.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: “These proposed reforms are a tacit admission that the Government has failed in its seven previous immigration Bills.
“We need to re-establish controls over our borders so we can count people in and out.”
Net immigration to the United Kingdom increased to 237,000 in 2007, a jump of 46,000 from the previous year, and immigration has seen the population of Great Britain swell by as much as 1.8 million since New Labour came to power in 1997.