London: There is urgency in Britain to limit migration as the country goes through one of its toughest economic periods in recent history and projections are that its population could hit an unprecedented 70 million mark in the next two decades.
The Home Office has set out controversial new proposals to make it tougher for immigrants to become British citizens.
Earlier, immigrants could automatically apply for citizenship after 5 years of stay in the UK. Now they will be put on a year of probation and the entire process could even stretch up to 10 years.
They will need to prove their worth including an ability to speak English, record of paying taxes and involvement in the community.
Foreign nationals will be denied a number of benefits until they pass the final British citizenship tests. They will also be asked to pay into a special fund to ease public service pressures.
Citizenship can be withheld or delayed if applicants break the law or show anti-social behavior.
There is no doubt that Indian immigrants will be the hardest hit by these proposals set out by the Home Office. The main nationality that was granted citizenship in 2007 were Indians. There has been manifold criticism of these proposals including the fact that rules make migrants easy targets in economically difficult times, they will limit migrants' freedom of speech when they are on probationary citizenship and finally, this is a political move given the fact that migration is a big electoral issue in the upcoming elections in the UK.
The proposals have been set out for public discussion but could be implemented within a matter of months.