UK Citizenship Statistics:
- 54,615 citizenship applications were approved in the first three months of 2009 – A 57 per cent increase on the same period in 2008.
- The total number for 2009 is likely to reach 220,000 or higher
- The previous record for the number of citizenship applications in one year was 164,540 in 2007.
The huge increase in citizenship applications is due to plans to make it more difficult to gain UK citizenship from 2010. The new system of "earned citizenship" could mean that it takes six to eight years to gain UK citizenship. Migrants will have to wait an extra probationary period before being granted citizenship. Those on long term visas (depending on the visa) can normally gain UK citizenship after about five years. It is less for those who are married to British Citizens.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas claims that the new UK citizenship requirements will save taxpayers £2billion. He said that fewer migrants will be interested in coming to the UK. Those that do are less likely to apply for citizenship.
There has also been an increase in settlement applications this year. The UKBA has said: "The increase in settlement grants reflects the success of UK Border Agency staff in clearing outstanding applications. It also reflects the Home Office's decision to tighten up the criteria for settlement.
"In 2006 we raised the qualifying period for settlement from four to five years, which meant that migrant workers who wanted to stay permanently had to wait an extra year.
"We have also set out our plans for earned citizenship, which demand that people earn the right to stay.
"We are now looking at raising the bar further by applying a points-based system to the path to citizenship and we will consult on this in the summer."