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Newcomers must earn the right to stay in the UK | Immigration Matters

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Foreign nationals wishing to become British citizens will have to earn the right to stay, the UK Government announced this week.

Under a tougher regime, migrants will be required to “speak English and obey the law if they want to gain citizenship and stay permanently in Britain”.

Those who “contribute to the community”, will be put on a faster track to citizenship.

The proposed changes form part of a sweeping overhaul of all immigration laws, some dating back to 1971, bringing in new “modern laws reserving full access to benefits and social housing will be reserved for citizens and permanent residents”.

The Home Office confirmed that “foreign nationals who commit serious offences will face automatic consideration for deportation – and even minor offences will delay access to citizenship by up to three years”.

In a a Mori poll carried out for the Home Office:

  • 70 per cent of the public think that newcomers should earn the right to stay in Britain
  • 83 per cent think that immigrants in Britain should be made to learn English; and
  • 69 per cent agree that newcomers should be penalised on the path to citizenship if they don’t obey Britain’s laws.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

“In recent months we have listened to people across Britain and the message is clear – they want those who want to make Britain their home to speak English, to work hard, and to earn the right to stay here.

“We are making the biggest changes to our immigration system for a generation, and part of that is making sure those who stay in the UK make a positive impact on their local community.”

Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:

“Britain is not anti-foreigner, we’re a welcoming, tolerant place. But we do expect newcomers to sign up to a deal if they want to stay and build a life in Britain.

“The public overwhelmingly supports the idea of newcomers earning their right to stay. Today we show how we’ll make these ideas law, hand in hand with our new points system for selective migration, like the one that’s worked so well in Australia.”


Nurses, Carers, Chefs and other migrant workers who came to the UK to do the jobs many Britons did not want to do, have paid their taxes without claiming benefits, may feel that they have already “earned” the right to stay. After all, according to the Home Office, they and other migrants contribute £2.5 billion to the economy.

Other countries looking to attract skilled workers, such as Canada, allow migrants to apply for permanent residency after just 2 years.

The Home Office announcement that “newcomers must earn the right to stay in the UK” implies that the new rules will only apply to new people coming into the UK. But previous changes to the qualification period on Indefinite Leave to Remain were applied retrospectively to existing migrants.

New migrants coming in under the Points Based System will have to prove their ability in English before they are even allowed in.

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