Queen's Speech: Immigrants must 'earn right to stay' in Britain
Immigrants will have to “earn their right to stay” in the UK under planned new laws.
By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:04PM GMT 03 Dec 2008
The Queen's Speech focussed on measures to help Britain through the economic downturn Photo: PA
Foreigners' attempts to take British citizenship will be set back if they commit crimes or fail to learn English. The measures are part of what ministers say will be a “firm but fair” immigration system.
The Queen's Speech set out plans for a Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill that will alter existing rules on granting British nationality.
The centrepiece of the bill will be measures to establish a formal “path to citizenship.”
Progress will be slowed down if migrants don't make an effort to integrate or commit even minor crimes, the Home Office said.
New rules could also mean some would-be British citizens see their applications fast-tracked.
At the moment, there is a standard five-year qualifying period for someone who applies for naturalisation.
Under the new rules, qualifying periods for nationality will vary according to an applicants' behaviour.
That will mean those who are judged to have behaved badly will have to wait longer. But those who meet the Home Office's criteria for integration could be fast-tracked to British nationality.
Other changes will allow people serving overseas with the Armed Forces to register their children as British.
The UK Border Agency will also be given more powers, formally taking on the responsibilities of customs officers and the immigration service.