250,000 foreigners to get British passports every year

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London, Feb 21 (UNI) In a move to make all migrants full British citizens, the government could issue passports to as many as 250,000 foreigners every year under new proposals.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said, ''It is no longer acceptable for foreigners to languish in limbo by living here but not adapting to the British way of life.'' ''I want to see a larger proportion moving to full British citizenship. Once your period of temporary residence ends you will need to apply for the next stage or leave,'' the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

All migrants, except the worst criminals, settling in the country will be eligible to become full British citizens. Even minor offenders and those who cannot be bothered to play an ''active'' role in community life will be eligible.

They will merely be expected to spend longer as ''probationary'' citizens under a Home Office consultation paper published yesterday.

Even murderers and rapists could be entitled to a passport if their homeland is considered too dangerous under human rights law for them to be deported.

The plans do not apply to migrants from other EU countries.

Presently, migrants who are here on a work visa can apply after five years for permanent settlement, known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The new proposals include scrapping the ILR system and getting citizenship will take at least six years from the date of arrival, an year longer than at present because of a new stage of ''probationary citizenship''.

Immigrants will be forced to learn English before they can get a British passport under the new rules.


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