14 October 2009
Move from UK visa to "earned" British citizenship good for community: solicitor
A Midlands solicitor has said that the change to the way migrants move from UK visas and UK work permits to gain British citizenship will be "good for the community".
Previously, British citizenship could be applied for after six years working in the country on a UK visa or three years if married to a British citizen or permanent resident.
However, new changes to the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 means a process of "earned citizenship" will be introduced.
The Home Office introduced the points-based system for applications for a UK Visa or UK Work Permit last year. The points-based system of earning points is now planned to be extended to granting citizenship, and it is thought that the ability to raise or lower the points threshold will provide greater flexibility in making immigration decisions depending upon the needs of the country and the economy.
The proposal for the "earned citizenship", currently subject to public consultation, means an individual who has had five years’ temporary residency would move into ‘probationary citizenship’ for a further period of between one and five years.
Individuals will have the chance to move to British citizenship more quickly, earning points for taking an active community role like volunteering.
Marian Dixon, head of Wright Hassall’s business immigration team in Birmingham, said the changes should help integrate immigrants into society.
“The new process is encouraging and rewarding immigrants who take an active and responsible role in the community,” Mrs Dixon said.
“This is good news for businesses because it means foreign workers will have a greater awareness of British culture and that should benefit the workplace. It will help to develop better relationships with fellow staff and ultimately benefit the company,” Mrs Dixon said.