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Newcomers must earn the right to stay in the UK
Foreign nationals wishing to become British citizens will have to earn the right to stay, the Government announced today.
The tough new approach will require all migrants to speak English and obey the law if they want to gain citizenship and stay permanently in Britain, while speeding up the path to citizenship for those who contribute to the community.
The reforms are at the centre of a sweeping overhaul of all immigration laws dating back to 1971 and confirm new modern laws reserving full access to benefits and social housing will be reserved for citizens and permanent residents.
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.
Public support for the proposals was confirmed by new Home Office polling released today. A Mori poll carried out for the Home Office revealed that:
* 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."
The draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill published today replaces ten Acts of Parliament and enshrines into law the Government's biggest ever shake-up of the immigration system. The key measures are:
1. new powers for frontline UKBA officers at foreign ports and airports to cancel visas.
2. bringing customs and immigration powers at the border into the 21st century, consolidating and strengthening civil penalties for bringing passengers without the right papers and clandestine entrants to the UK.
3. the Bill proposes a clear legal duty on migrants to ensure they have permission to be in the UK, for example under our new points system.
4. the Bill introduces a single, streamlined power of expulsion for those without permission.
Earning the right to stay
5. migrants will now have to earn their right to stay in the UK.
6. automatic bans on returns with new powers to exclude offenders and powers to require those who are expelled to repay costs to taxpayers if we allow them to come back.
Playing by the rules
7. the Bill gives a new power to require large 'bail bonds' for those awaiting decisions or expulsion, part of a tough menu of conditions for "Immigration bail" as an alternative to detention.
8. confirming tough measures to prevent organised illegal immigration by attacking illegal working with civil penalties for employers who do not make the necessary checks.
9. simplifying our appeals system to cut red-tape; ensuring that the system is properly sensitive to the needs of vulnerable groups: honouring our international obligations to refugees and ensuring the UKBA safeguards and promotes the welfare of children.
Managing any local impacts
10. full access to benefits for citizens and permanent residents, with migrants contributing a little extra to the cost of local services;
The Home Office confirmed that newcomers will have to pay a little extra before they become citizens to create a fund of tens of millions of pounds a year to help police, schools, councils and local health services to use the money to deal with the short-term pressures of migration in their areas.
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."
These changes are part of the biggest shake-up to the immigration system for a generation, and to make sure these changes stick today's Bill will see the currently complex immigration laws replaced by one simplified piece of legislation. By updating the law, and getting rid of any room for misinterpretation, the UK Border Agency can cut red tape and accelerate the speed of its work.
Notes to editors
1. The draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill can be found at the following link: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/immigrationandcitizenshipbill
2. Alongside the draft Bill the Home Office has today published two further documents: Making Change Stick, a introduction to the key measures in the Bill, and the Government's Response to the Path to Citizenship Consultation.
3. The Home Office carried out two consultations which contributed to the Bill. The Path to Citizenship, which can be found here: Initial Consultation: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/consultations/immigrationlawconsultation