The Path to Citizenship, published last week, says immigrants should give something back to their new communities. Those who proved their "active citizenship" would be eligible to become citizens in one year instead of three.
Charity workers could be asked to give references verifying immigrants' contributions to their communities and could face a three-month jail term for providing inaccurate information.
Kevin Curley chief executive of Navca, said the definition of active citizenship was too narrow and community work should not be imposed.
Justin Davis-Smith, the deputy chief executive of Volunteering England, said his organisation was "cautious about the possibility of compulsion".
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said: "The benefits of citizenship will be available to those who can demonstrate a willingness to contribute to the community."
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