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27 May 2010

Immigrants granted British passports once every three minutes

british-passport_1574038c.jpgImmigrants are being granted British passports at the rate of one every three minutes, according to new figures.

The number of citizenship claims approved last year rose 58 percent to 203,790.

The rise comes ahead of new rules that will increase the length of time most immigrants must wait to be granted their passport and toughen the the test they must take on their new country. India and former British colonies in Africa accounted for the majority of new citizens.

 However long-term immigration to the UK dropped by 9% in the year to last September.

About 503,000 people came into the country over the period, compared with 555,000 in the previous 12 months.

Provisional data from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) also indicated that the number of entrants from eastern European states that joined the EU in 2004 - such as Poland and the Czech Republic - also dropped 55% to 45,000.

The figures will be interpreted by Labour as evidence that its points-based system was starting to have an effect.

Several candidates in the party's leadership contest have identified immigration as a key factor in its General Election defeat.

The new Government has committed itself to introducing a cap on non-EU immigration, although the level has yet to be set.

Immigration minister Damian Green said: "These figures illustrate the scale of the immigration challenge facing the new Government.

"It is now our duty to control immigration for the benefit of the UK and that is what I am determined to do.

"I believe that immigration has been far too high in recent years which is why we will reduce net migration back down to the levels of the 1990s - to tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands.

"Over the coming weeks and months the public will see us tackle this issue head on by introducing a wide range of new measures to ensure that immigration is properly controlled, including a limit on work permits, actions on marriage and an effective system of regulating the students who come here."


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