Latest immigration plan: Go home and we'll give you a British passport
IMMIGRANTS could speed their progress towards British citizenship by returning to their home country.
As part of the proposed points-based system for migrants who want a passport, ministers are considering tougher language and history tests to help integration.
Migrants could be given extra points for their skills, jobs and qualifications, losing points for bad behaviour.
But the government is also looking at giving points to workers who take skills back to their country of origin.
If they carry out development work at home, it could help their chances of becoming British when they return to the UK.
However, a Home Office "impact assessment" warns such a move could slow down adoption of British values and culture.
It states: "Encouraging future citizens to spend long periods out of the UK doesn't aid the process of integration."
Another measure under consideration would allow migrants to go home and not lose out on time they had been granted to live in the UK.
Their "leave to remain" would be put on hold while they were abroad, and could be restarted at a later date without them having to go through entry checks.
The proposals are intended to encourage "cyclical migration" from the UK to other countries, to help tackle the brain drain of talented workers from developing countries.
Currently, anyone applying for citizenship must have spent no more than 450 days out of the past five years outside the country, or more than 90 days out of the last year.
The consultation document, entitled Earning the Right to Stay, aims to break the automatic link between coming to the UK temporarily to work or study and staying permanently.
Ministers say the changes will enable them to control the numbers of people becoming citizens, by moving the qualification bar up or down.
Failing to fulfil the requirements could see individuals kicked out. Points could be deducted for crime, antisocial behaviour, or "failing to integrate into the British way of life".
Migrants who live and work in areas where there is a shortage of works – such as Scotland – could be given extra points.
Applicants would take one test on the British way of life when applying for probationary citizenship and another more difficult test at the end of their probation period.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas admitted that some areas of the country had been "overburdened" by migrants.
He said: "We are going to introduce these proposals to make sure we can control migration to bring better confidence to the public and, of course, control the impact of migration.
"Under these proposals, you will have to have a period earning your citizenship in which you don't get access to benefits, then you will have to pass some of the criteria."
Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green said: "The Labour government's open-door immigration policy has not benefited the UK, nor the countries of origin hindered by the 'brain drain'. These proposals are tinkering at the edges of a far wider problem. It is time to get a grip on the consequences caused by unlimited immigration."
HOW TO GAIN POINTS:
• Passing tests on life, history and politics in the UK.
• Favourable earning potential.
• Having relevant qualifications gained in the UK in the preceding five years.
• Demonstrating special artistic, scientific, or literary merit.
• Skilled in a shortage occupation.
• Demonstrating an English language qualification above existing requirements.
• Those who have lived in areas of the UK believed to be in need of further immigration, such as Scotland.
• The citizenship process would be quicker for those who contribute to civic life, through voluntary work, being a school governor, canvassing for a political party, or trade union activities.
HOW TO LOSE POINTS:
• Failure to integrate into British life.
• Criminal or anti-social behaviour.
• Circumstances where an active disregard for UK values is demonstrated, yet to be clarified by the government.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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