Prospective British citizens as of Tuesday will have to know bits of history and law, such as how many television licenses are required per household and which courts use a jury system. Government ministers on Monday gave reporters a preview of the 24-question test that is a new part of Britain's naturalization process requiring knowledge of British culture and the English language.
Demonstrating knowledge of English - a requirement instituted in July 2004 - also changes on Nov. 1.
Previously, candidates could have a notary affirm their grasp of English, or present a high-school diploma or university degree as proof. Now, a candidate's being able to take the "Knowledge of Life in the UK" test is enough to prove proficiency in English, Welsh or Scots Gaelic. If a person lacks such proficiency, he or she will have to complete language and citizenship classes, available at community colleges throughout Britain.
The citizenship test, he said, is only part of the solution to easing immigration tensions in the United Kingdom, where fear of immigrants has intensified since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and the bombings in Madrid and London.
Foreign citizens are eligible for permanent residency status after four years living in Britain, and can apply for citizenship after a total of five years in the country.
The test questions come from the 145-page government handbook "Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship," which covers British history, government, housing, employment, law, culture and resources for citizens. A.M.