23 June 2009
UK Immigration grants 57 per cent more passports
The number of British passports given to migrants is set to hit a record 220,000 this year as applicants rush to avoid the stringent conditions planned to be imposed in 2010.
The prediction was made after 57 per cent more UK passports were granted by the UK Home Office in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the same period a year ago.
In the first three months of 2009, 54,615 citizenship applications were approved, and it is expected if this rate continues the number of people receiving passports will exceed the record of 164,540 set in 2007.
UK immigration officials claim the increase in the numbers of passports granted is due to the fact that immigrants are rushing to obtain UK citizenship status before the more stringent conditions take effect next year.
Currently, people who work in the UK must remain for five years before being able to apply for British citizenship. Under the system being introduced in 2010 this requirement will increase to between six and eight years.
The top five native countries of those gaining citizenship in the past two years have been India, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Zimbabwe.
India and Pakistan are historic sources of migration, particularly via marriage to a British citizen.
The large numbers of Iraqis, Somalis and Zimbabweans reflects the fact that asylum seekers who arrived at the start of this decade have now been in the UK long enough to receive citizenship.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visas and immigration services.