15 January 2009
UK Government releases new citizenship bill
The British Parliament published today a new bill concerning the radical 'earned pathway' to citizenship, 15th January 2009.
The 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.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said the new bill sends a clear message to migrants that the Government requires them to earn the right to stay in the UK.
"Migration only works if it brings benefits and these measures will ensure that only those migrants that make a positive impact on their local community will be able to stay in the UK," he said in a statement.
The bill also ensures that the rights of children are protected when dealing with the UK Border Agency. It now allows children born in the UK to at least one parent who is a foreign or commonwealth member of the British armed forces to gain automatic British citizenship, and provides a contravening rule to counteract the situation whereby a father could pass on his British nationality to a child born abroad before 1961 while a mother could not.
The bill is part of the new Australian-style points-based system for immigration introduced in stages last year, which aims to control UK immigration so that only those needed in the British economy move to the UK and no more.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.
Article by Jessica Bird, UK Visa Bureau.