Home Office opens consultation on fast-track citizenship for volunteers

Charities urged to submit their views over the next 12 weeks

The Government has urged charities and volunteering groups to take part in a consultation on a new law that allows immigrants' applications for British citizenship to be fast-tracked if they do voluntary work.

The consultation period, which began yesterday, will last until 26 October. A spokeswoman for the Home Office said it would hold meetings with local authorities and volunteering organisations across the UK over the next 12 weeks to discuss how the scheme will work in practice.

She said the meetings, which would be for invited stakeholders only, would be used to discuss ways in which the Government could ensure that voluntary or community work being undertaken by citizenship applicants was properly checked and verified.

But she said the Government was also keen to receive written responses to its consultation document, Earning the Right to Stay, from the voluntary sector.

"This will be a big challenge for volunteering groups, and we want to hear from the people who will be providing the volunteering opportunities," she said.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act, which was passed last month, introduces an 'activity condition' that allows immigrants who have been in the UK for five years to gain citizenship within one year, rather than three, if they can prove they have been an active citizen by volunteering.

But the act does not create a definition of volunteering or indicate how much activity would be required to get citizenship fast-tracked.

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