5.3 Legal status and belonging
During the Second World War, Jewish refugees experienced great insecurity about their status, resulting in some cases in severe mental distress. Others ‘chafed at existing conditions. Indeed, most refugees felt they had become part of British Society’ (London, 2000, p. 262). Being naturalised as British citizens was for many ‘the milestone which established their settlement in Britain’ (London, 2000, p. 259).
Following the 2002 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act, prospective UK citizens were to be required to pass a test to demonstrate ‘a sufficient understanding of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic’ and a ‘sufficient understanding of UK society and civic structures’ and ‘to take a citizenship oath and a pledge at a civic ceremony’; the stated aim was ‘to raise the status of becoming a British citizen and to offer more help to that end’ (Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate, 2003, Section 1). The first British citizenship ceremony took place in Brent Town Hall in February 2004.