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Stories from the Scotsman
Immigrants to swear oath in front of the Saltire


IMMIGRANTS living in Scotland who want to become British citizens will have to swear an oath of allegiance before the Saltire, under government plans revealed yesterday.

The new citizenship ceremonies are to be tailored to reflect the part of the United Kingdom in which they are performed, with the Scottish flag and the anthem Flower of Scotland being given prominence north of the Border.

Research carried out by the Home Office found that while many Scots were "reluctant" to support the concept of citizenship ceremonies, they wanted them to "strongly" reflect national symbols if they became compulsory.

The cost of becoming a British citizen is also due to rise, with the fee going up to a maximum of 218.

The 90,000 adult applicants who get a British passport each year will pay a fee of 68 for the compulsory ceremony. Naturalisation fees will also rise 26 to 146 for overseas nationals who are married to a Briton - meaning they will foot the steepest price rise of 78 per cent when combined with the ceremony fee.

People from British overseas territories will see their registration fees fall from 120 to 85 but will still have to pay the 68 ceremony charge, making the total cost 153.

Beverley Hughes, the Home Office minister, said: "Becoming a UK citizen is an important step and we want to welcome new citizens with the right balance of solemnity and celebration to make it a significant day for all involved.

"The ceremony will reinforce the obligations as well as the rights of being a citizen.

"I believe it is only right - and indeed what new citizens themselves will want - that our national flag and national anthem should be part of this important day alongside appropriate symbols of the local community, and the final guidance to local authorities will reflect this."

The Scotsman

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