A new immigration Bill will create an "earned citizenship" scheme for foreigners who want to become British.
Newcomers will have to "earn" the right to stay in the UK and be given a new "path to citizenship".
Their progress towards citizenship will be slowed if they do not make an effort to integrate or commit crimes.
Those who succeed in efforts to learn language and pass citizenship tests could have their approval fast-tracked.
The Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill will also bring together customs and immigration staff within the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
The UKBA will also be given a new duty to safeguard the welfare of children.
Children born to British mothers before 1961 will be able to adopt British citizenship under the new law. Previously it was passed on only through fathers.