London, May 21 : Becoming British is getting much easier these days, for immigrants are getting British passports at a rate of one every three minutes, which in itself is a record till date.
In fact, the Home Office figures have indicated that over 164,000 immigrants were granted citizenship last year and there has been a record four-fold increase in immigrants ever since Labour came to power.
While approximately 1.2million foreigners were granted permanent residency since 1997, almost two million Britons have left the country in the same period, because of failing public services, rising crime and the ever-increasing tax and cost-of-living burden.
And now, one can easily say that 1 in 8 workers employed in this country were born overseas.
"Given the Government's proven record at granting passports to people like Muktar Ibrahim Said - the July 21 ringleader - the public will be alarmed that they are being handed out at such a rate. How can they guarantee they are being granted to suitable people? This shows why it is essential our border controls are tightened," The Daily Express quoted Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green, as saying. It was revealed that in the last one year, 164,635 people were granted citizenship, which indicated a rise of seven per cent from the year before, and equal to one every three minutes. It even peaked ahead from the last high of 161,700 in 2005 that resulted from the rush of applications before the introduction of citizenship test in November that year.
On the other hand, the arte of refusal to applications has seen a drop of 2 percent, from 11 per cent in 2005 to 9 per cent last year. This indicated that becoming British now comes easy.
Out of the 15,630 people, who were refused or withdrew applications, only 16 per cent of those were snubbed because they could not clear the 'Life In The UK' citizenship test or language ability. A total of 1,197,640 people have been granted citizenship since Labour came to power.
Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch said: "Grants of citizenship have quadrupled under the present Government as a direct consequence of the massive levels of immigration they have encouraged."
Now, foreign workers constitute up to 12.5 per cent of the workforce, with 3.7million workers born overseas as against 1.9million in 1997.
It was revealed that in February, up to 250,000 people a year could be handed citizenship under Government's plans in order to make them "earn" the right.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: "Only those with something to give can become a British citizen, including a mastery of English. This year we set in motion a huge shake-up of citizenship so newcomers have to earn their way by paying taxes, obeying the law and making an effort to integrate and paying a little extra towards public services."
In fact, it's just been three months that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith revealed she wanted to give every immigrant looking to settle in the UK a passport.
The largest increase in immigration last year was seen in Afghan immigrants- up 211 per cent on 2006 to 10,555, making them the third most common nationality last year. While Indians made up for the highest number of approvals at 14,490, Filipinos were second at 10,840.
On the contrary, almost 400,000 people are quitting Britain every year.