Earning the right to stay

A new points based test for citizenship

4th August 2009

The Government has announced a consultation on proposed changes to the rules for obtaining permanent residency and citizenship in the United Kingdom.

Following the introduction in 2008 of the points based system for entry to the United Kingdom for economic purposes and studying, the Government wishes to extend the points based regime to those who wish to stay permanently in the United Kingdom.

Proposals launched in the new consultation would see people rewarded for economic contributions, skills and English language proficiency above the level already expected. Points could be removed and citizenship withheld or delayed for those breaking the law or committing anti-social behaviour.

The consultation document seeks views on:-

  • Introducing a new Points Based Test for earned citizenship, to better manage the number allowed to settle permanently in the United Kingdom;
  • Delivering the earned citizenship system in partnership with Local Authorities;
  • Supporting those who are on the path to the citizenship to integrate into their communities; and
  • Managing the impacts of migration on the developing world.

The system will build on the changes to earned citizenship introduced by the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, which passed through Parliament in July. The Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said;

“a points based test for citizenship will give the Government more control over the numbers of people permitted to settle here permanently, allowing the bar for settlement to be raised or lowered depending on the needs of the Country and the economy.

One of the key principles of the earned citizenship system is building community cohesion, through encouraging community involvement through active citizenship”.

Under the current system those wanting citizenship have to pass a Life in the UK Test to demonstrate both their knowledge of the country and their ability to speak English. It is proposed to tighten this even further with a new two stage system. This will focus on practical information about life in the United Kingdom at probationary citizenship stage, and then a further test at the final stage with more challenging topics including history and politics.

Full details of the consultation can be found at the link below:-


Magrath LLP will work with its clients to respond to the consultation and will provide regular updates in respect of the progress of the consultation.