FOREIGNERS living in Britain will be expected to go through a new expanded citizenship process or leave.
But the tough new rules will not apply to people from the European Union.
The measures follow consultation with people from across the UK – including West Yorkshire – and set the stage for a new Bill to bring them in.
The public made it was clear that people who want to make Britain their home should speak English, pay their way, obey the law and give something back to their community.
Anyone who commits an offence leading to a jail sentence would be barred from becoming a British citizen.
Chris Hudson, the Border and Immigration Agency’s director for the North-East, Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “We want foreign nationals to make a commitment to the region if they want to stay. That’s what people in West Yorkshire told me during public consultations at the end of last year.
“This region has a long history of embracing immigration and everyone in the region stands to gain from the changes that earned citizenship will bring because committed citizens create a stronger sense of community.
“Our region is much richer for migration, but we need to make sure we balance the rights and responsibilities of migrants and understand the impacts on local services and take action against foreign nationals who don’t play by the rules.’’
Mr Hudson said only about 60% of people granted permanent residency in the UK now go on to apply for full British citizenship, which would increase their ability to access benefits and services.
He said there needed to be incentives for more people to want to become full British citizens.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she wanted to end the situation where foreign nationals “languish in limbo” by living here but not adapting to the British way of life.
Even the ultra-wealthy – who can currently avoid some of the conditions imposed on less well-off immigrants – will be expected to apply for British nationality or permanent residence.
“I would want to see a larger proportion of those that are here moving to full British citizenship,” said Ms Smith.
“You will not be able to languish in limbo. Once your period of temporary residence comes to an end you will need to apply for the next stage or leave.
“I don’t think it is a good thing to have people who are permanently living here but have not taken that step towards permanent citizenship.’’
She added: “This is a country of liberty and tolerance, opportunity and diversity and these values are reinforced by the expectation that all who live here should learn our language, play by the rules, obey the law and contribute to the community.
“Today’s proposals are part of the biggest changes to British immigration policy for a generation.’’
Under the proposals winning citizenship will take at least six years from the point someone arrives in the UK, a year longer than at present, because of a new stage of probationary citizenship.
The probation period will last 12 months if the foreigner takes part in community activities such as volunteering, charity fundraising, running a sports team or playgroup or working as a school governor.
Migrants who do not take part in community work will have to wait longer; the existing five years plus a minimum of three years’ probation.
This type of community work may even be made compulsory, says a Green Paper published yesterday.
It also stated that new conditions will be introduced on winning British citizenship, such as an emphasis on being law-abiding.
Full access to benefits – such as jobseeker’s allowance and income support – will no longer be granted after a person has been in the UK for five years. Applicants will instead have to wait until they have completed their probationary period.