12 February 2009

UK citizenship applications in backlog

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The Home Office has announced that the citizenship department is experiencing a high volume of naturalisation applications.

A large number of foreign nationals living in the UK on permanent UK visas are applying for UK citizenship, causing a large backlog for UK immigration officials.  The influx has come after the UK immigration department announced the new path to citizenship (earned citizenship).

The new  Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill has changed the pathway to citizenship so that settled migrants must prove their English language ability and obedience to British law before becoming citizens of the UK.  Those that prove service to the British community can now also be fast-tracked to UK citizenship.

The bill also rules that those who are not full citizens or permanent residents of Britain will not have access to full services and benefits and social housing, so that more people would be encouraged to earn their citizenship.  Further, Parliament now requires those non-citizens who commit serious criminal offences to be subject to deportation.

The Home Office has warned that the processing of applications could take longer than three months, and if applicants may need their passport for travel purposes during this time they are encouraged to hold back their application.  Applications will not need original documents if they are sent through the nationality checking service in local councils.

It has been predicted that applications lodged in January of this year for citizenship may take up to six months to process.  The Home Office has apologised for the delay, and has said they would provide approximate waiting times on their website, as well as details for applicants to contact the nationality team to find the latest information.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

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