Today UK Work Permits Ltd can confirm that as of 21st July 2009, The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration bill became law and made numerous amendments to the British Nationality Act 1981. It also enlists provisions to introduce “Earned Citizenship” in the summer of 2011.

How will earned citizenship work?

The new system will consist of three distinct routes: Work, Family and Protection:

1. Highly skilled individuals and those in skilled positions (Tiers 1 and 2 of the Points Based System);

2. Family members of British citizens and permanent residents; and

3. Refugees and migrants who have been given humanitarian protection

All will be eligible to begin the three stage process of earning British citizenship. For each route the process then consists of three clear stages, all of which must be completed in order to gain British citizenship.

Stage 1: Temporary residence

At this stage, migrants must spend a minimum amount of time within the UK obeying the law, working within the conditions of their visa, and will have to pass a test to prove their English language skills and/or knowledge and awareness of life in the UK. There are also certain requirements relating to the separate routes. Continual employment and paid taxes will required for the Work route, ongoing relations with family members will be required for the Family route and continued required international protection will be needed for the Protection route.

Stage 2: Probationary citizenship

This stage is for Migrants to demonstrate that they have earned the right to become a British citizen. Those who take up charity or community work or who seek to advance the education, health, arts, culture, sports or other community-oriented sectors will potentially be able to gain British citizenship up to two years earlier than those who do not. However, all candidates are required to:

Have obeyed the law during this probationary period;

Have continued to remain self sufficient and maintain themselves without recourse to public funds; and

Have met the specific requirements for the route they are pursuing.

It is important to note here that any migrant that has spent five years at this stage will be required to move forward onto the final stage, or leave the UK.

Stage 3: British Citizenship or permanent residence

Migrants earning British citizenship will, at this stage, be fully entitled to all right and benefits. ‘Permanent Residence’ will remain available to migrants who choose not to, or are unable to become citizens (i.e. dual nationality issues). It will almost certainly take longer for probationary citizens to qualify for ‘Permanent Residence’ than for Citizenship.

The UK Border Agency plans to implement these provisions in July 2011.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act has also introduced one further route to British Citizenship. Those born overseas to a parent in the armed forces, and those who have a British mother and were born before 1961 will automatically be entitled to British citizenship.

For further information on these changes or the current rules for Permanent Residence or Citizenship applications, please contact us.