British citizenship rules tightened

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: The U.K. has signalled an end to the policy which gave immigrants the “automatic” right to citizenship if they had stayed for a minimum of five years.

Under the proposed rules, immigrants will have to “earn” British citizenship by demonstrating their commitment to Britain and its way of life. This would include having a good grasp of English and a knowledge of British history and its institutions.

While the minimum waiting period before an immigrant can apply for a British passport will remain five years, it will be extended to eight years for those who show reluctance to integrate by, for example, not doing voluntary community work.

Under the proposals, set out in the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill, immigrants convicted of serious criminal offences may be barred from citizenship. The Bill, described as the biggest shake-up of immigration rules for 40 years, also proposes a number of other restrictions that would make it harder for immigrants to gain British citizenship.