British passports for migrants up by 57 per cent in a year 22 June 2009. British passports for the migrants are up by 57 per cent in a year.
With this, the number of British passports handed down to the migrants is all set to hit a record 220,000 this year, breaking the previous record of 164,540 in 2007.
Available data reveals 54,615 citizenship applications were approved in the first three months of 2009. The figure was up by 57 per cent compared to corresponding period last year.
It means almost a quarter of a million foreigners can be handed UK passports this year, if the trend continues.
The top five countries in terms of gaining citizenship in the past two years are India, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Zimbabwe. The large numbers of Iraqis, Somalis and Zimbabweans is being seen as a reflection of the fact that asylum seekers, who arrived at the start of this decade, have now been in the UK long enough to receive citizenship.
Until the approval of the passport application, the migrants do not have access to child benefit, council and housing tax benefits, besides income support.
An analysis of the data reveals the approvals have shot up by almost 500 per cent under the current government. Last year the total was 129,310. When Labour came to power in 1997, as less as 37,010 were given citizenship.
The introduction of a ‘tough’ new system of earned citizenship next year is being seen as the factor behind the trend. The officials believe the migrants are rushing to obtain passports before they have to undergo an extra probationary period.
Their apprehensions are not unfounded. Under the new system, obtaining a passport will take six to eight years from a migrant’s arrival in most cases, rather than the current five.
The figures have led the observers and analysts to believe the rush shows how laidback the current system is. They also blame the government for changing the make-up of Britain by handing out so many passports, without any public debate.
Even as a report by the London School of Economics says legalising illegal immigrants can boost Britain’s output by 3 billion pounds a year, the record number of passports has led shadow home secretary Chris Grayling to say: ‘This is yet another example of the Government’s incompetence in managing our immigration system.
‘They openly admit they are introducing a new system and that everyone is rushing to get in before it. It just smacks of ministers having no idea what they are doing.’
The statistics also reveal the grants of settlement, a stage before citizenship, are also up in the first three months of 2009, `running at an annual rate of 190,000’.
Reacting to the development, Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, says at the current rate, the grants of settlement will treble under Labour.
He says they are on course for a massive increase in the population, something which nobody wants; and on which nobody has been consulted. That’s why the people are angry with the political class.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas, meanwhile, says the new rules will save taxpayers up to £2billion in benefit claims; and will deter some migrants from travelling to the UK or staying long enough to obtain citizenship and benefits.
Woolas, in fact, says the pull factor of coming to the UK is to be taken away. The Home Office gives itself the credit and says the increase in settlement grants reflects the success of the UK Border Agency staff in clearing outstanding applications. It also reflects the Home Office’s decision to tighten up the criteria for settlement.