UK To Put Aspiring Citizens On Probation


    LONDON (Reuters) - Aspiring British citizens will be put on probation for at least one year to show they can speak English, pay their taxes, abide by the law and have integrated into local life, the government proposed on Wednesday.

    The move is the latest to try to control immigration and ease public fears that schools, hospitals and transport networks are being swamped by foreign nationals, especially since European Union enlargement.
    The proposals also seek to encourage migrants to integrate locally, rather than living in segregated areas and speaking their own languages -- a trend that can lead to intolerance.
    "For newcomers to Britain, the prized asset of citizenship must be earned," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.
    "We must ensure that British citizenship is a set of obligations as well as a guarantee of rights."
    Migrants, particularly those with elderly relatives and children, will also face higher application fees to help Britain adapt its infrastructure to cope with rising immigration.
    Countries in the European Economic Area, a set of 30 states most of whom are EU members, will be exempt from the plans.
    Britain will still honour its commitment to provide a haven for refugees, ministers said.
    Germany, France, Spain and Italy have or are introducing steps to better foster the integration of foreign nationals.
    Under the proposals -- many of which are still under consultation and must be approved by parliament -- highly skilled or skilled workers will face a one-year probation period after completing a five-year temporary resident period.
    Migrants will only have access to full benefits such as housing and child support once they have passed probation.
    Britain will also review EU migrants' access to benefits.
    Aspiring citizens will face stricter English-language tests and those applying for a visa through marriage must demonstrate English language skills, under the proposals.
    For those who cannot show they have integrated into their community, through voluntary work or fund-raising for example, the probation period to acquire citizenship will be three years.
    Those who do not pass the probationary tests will be asked to leave the country, the government said.

    The Conservative Party labelled the plans a "gimmick" and called for a numerical cap on immigration, a move the government opposes. Migrant support groups also challenged the plan to defer access to full benefits for at least one year.
    The proposals follow moves to limit the number of immigrants, which include an Australian-style points based system that begins in March to measure migrants' potential.

    (Editing by Stephen Weeks)
  2. i read about this and THEY BETTER NOT! i have only 2 more years to go before i can get UK citizenship and if they wreck it for me i'll be so pissed!!!!