Petition Grant British citizenship to all people in the UK during the Pandemic.
While international travel is restricted, and so many foreign nationals are key workers, when Parliament sets a date for the end of the lockdown all people within the UK at that time, including those without a current visa, should receive full British Citizenship.
When people have borne hardship and risked their health in keeping UK society safe and well during the pandemic, to offer only some of them only a one year extension to their visa makes this country graceless, mean-spirited, and ungrateful. This proposal not only recognises the courage of immigrants during our national crisis, it allows the UK to reset and rebalance the immigration system for the future.
This response was given on 17 June 2020
We have already done a huge amount to support foreign nationals in the UK who have been affected by the pandemic, but have no plans to grant citizenship to all in the UK.
We recognise the patience, hard work, and sacrifices of people in the UK during the current pandemic, including many from across the world who have made our nation their home.
We have put measures in place to support people at this time.
Overseas nationals who cannot return home due to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to extend their visa until the end of July to give them peace of mind they can stay in the UK until they are able to return home safely.
We have automatically extended visas for key health professionals and their family members, free of charge, for one year. This will apply to frontline workers, including midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists, whose visas expire between 31 March and before 1 October 2020. It will apply to anyone subject to UK immigration control working in eligible occupations, both in the NHS and the independent health and care sector. This visa extension will be free of charge and those benefitting will not pay the Immigration Health Surcharge; the Prime Minister recently extended this to all those working to support our NHS.
The Home Office is also extending an immediate offer of indefinite leave to remain, free of charge, to the families and dependants of NHS support staff and social care workers who die as result of contracting coronavirus. This offer of indefinite leave to remain will be effective immediately and retrospectively.
We have put in place measures to allow those who want to start working for, or studying at, a registered sponsor to commence work or study prior to their visa being granted. We have removed the limit on volunteer work for visiting academic researchers, holders of short-term visas who are permitted to volunteer, students and Tier 2 workers where an NHS job is a second job.
There are also temporary concessions in place for people unable to meet the requirements of the family Immigration Rules to enter or remain in the UK due to coronavirus. If customers are unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions and their leave has expired, a short break in continuous residence will be overlooked. We have made changes to the Minimum Income Requirement for those who have experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus and, in some cases, we will be able to decide applications without seeing certain specified documents if customers cannot get them due to coronavirus.
To become a British citizen a person must meet several statutory criteria. These are set out in the British Nationality Act 1981. They must have lived here for a minimum number of years and become a permanent resident. These criteria are designed to ensure an applicant has a strong connection to the UK and intends to remain here. Applicants must also satisfy a good character requirement and show they have sufficient knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK. Citizenship cannot be granted on a discretionary basis.
It is fair all those who want to become British citizens should meet the same core requirements and citizenship is granted on a consistent basis. In addition, several countries do not allow their citizens to hold dual nationality and can penalise people for doing so. This underlines the benefit of an applicant-led approach to citizenship, rather than the automatic grant suggested in the petition.
We therefore do not believe it would be right to grant citizenship to all foreign nationals in the UK, irrespective of their length of residence or level of connection with the UK, other than being present here currently, and will not be doing so. Those who have made the UK their home, have lived and become settled here, have taken time to learn about life in the UK, are able to speak English, and are of good character, are able to apply under the current law.
At 100,000 signatures...
At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament