Immigrants face stronger British citizenship process

Aspiring British citizens will be put on probation for at least one year to show they can speak English, pay their taxes, abide by the law and have integrated into local life, the government said on Wednesday.

Immigrants face stronger British citizenship process
The move is the latest by Britain to try to control immigration, especially since European Union enlargement.

Migrants, particularly those with elderly relatives and children, will also face higher application fees to help Britain adapt its infrastructure to cope with rising immigration.

Countries in the European Economic Area are exempt from the new rules.

Under the proposals, highly skilled or skilled workers will undergo the one-year probation period on top of a five-year temporary resident period they must first complete.

There will be stricter English-language tests and migrants will only have access to full benefits such as housing and child benefit once they have passed probation.

Those who cannot show they have "integrated" into their community, through voluntary work or fund-raising for example, will have to wait three years before applying for citizenship.

The Conservatives labelled the plans a "gimmick" and called for a numerical cap on immigration, a move the government opposes.

Smith said the changes would target those who "languish in limbo" -- living in Britain but not adapting to British life.

Migrants who do not want British citizenship can remain as permanent residents but there will now be a probation period of at least three years -- on top of the initial temporary resident period -- before obtaining indefinite leave to remain.

The changes follow moves to limit the number of immigrants, which include an Australian-style points based system that begins in March and will measure migrants' potential.

"The next stage of reform is to make sure those who want to make Britain their home understand the deal that goes with British citizenship," Smith said.

People who break the law during the probation period will have their path to citizenship slowed or halted, she added.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Şubat 2008, 11:57