UK Immigration minister Phil Woolas has made a statement in anticipation of a new Borders, Citizenship and Immigration bill which is expected to introduce an increase in the period of residence required to qualify for citizenship in the UK.
The bill is in its final stage and was cleared by the House of Commons at the end of July, with support from major political parties. It is widely considered to be a broad-ranging overhaul of the UK immigration situation, whose rules and regulations have remained largely unchanged since their inception in the 1950s.
The latest aspect of the bill to be heard proposes to recommend that those people wishing to settle permanently in the UK must first complete a period of residence extended from the current five to eight years. For those applicants with a family connection to the UK, such as those applying for a marriage visa or partner visa, will also see their initial residency requirements extended, from the current three years to five, prior to being able to apply for UK citizenship. An interesting new proposal to the increased residency, however, sees applicants able to cut this time by two years if they take an active role in approved UK charity work.
Although these changes may be approved relatively swiftly, Phil Woolas MP pointed out that the implementation of the proposed changes will take a while longer. If approved, it will not be until July 2011 that the new citizenship regulations will be in place, so applicants already in the UK are entitled to apply under the current residency rules for some time yet.
Phil Woolas MP explained how the potential changes have been devised to incorporate positive community action, stating “That makes a reality of the pledge to ensure that those who wish to become British citizens earn the right.”
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