AN ENGINEER says his bid for British citizenship has been thwarted because the Home Office says he can’t speak English.

Burt Browne arrived in the country 14 years ago after moving from Durban in South Africa.

But he says his attempts to become an official citizen have been met with a shut door because officials won’t recognise his university qualification.

It has led to trouble in his job as a chartered engineer, as he says there are now doubts about his ability to communicate, even though he has spoken English as his first language for his entire life.

Mr Browne, 41, who lives in Lewes, has an English wife and Sussex-born son, while his mother and stepfather were also British.

He said: “It’s so exasperating. I have lived here for 14 years, and I’m from Durban which is an English-speaking city. I didn’t realise just how British I was until I came here. You get a unique sense of what it means when you live in a former colony.

“When the Government say they will prioritise immigrants with high skills like engineers, it is absolute nonsense.

“Theresa May spoke about EU nationals not being able to go to the ‘front of the queue’, what queue? There is no queue, there is just a shut door, with idiots behind it.”

Mr Browne has contacted his MP Maria Caulfield about the issue, but said she had received the same response from the Home Office.

Immigration officials want him to prove he can speak English, and one way of doing so is to show a university qualification here in the UK.

At first he said he sent them proof of his NCS qualifications as an engineer, but these documents were rejected. So he instead sent them proof he had studied a post-graduate diploma at Oxford Brookes University.

The course there is registered in the official student handbook, but Mr Browne says Home Office officials are refusing to recognise the qualification, and insist he takes a course to prove his language skills instead.

He said: “It has just become comical. The course is registered with the student handbook, it is an authorised course.

“Argument becomes impossible. It has been going on for two years and had a serious impact on my job.

“My employers are aware of the ridiculous situation, but there now seems to be a question mark on whether I can communicate.

“Citizenship is something I have been looking forward to, like joining a family. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time now.

“So this experience has left a bitter taste, because they are not willing to admit to making a mistake. It’s farcical.”

The Home Office said Mr Browne’s qualification does not meet the requirements of the law.

English has to be proved to a standard of B1 and B2 or C1 and C2, or be a “a degree taught or researched in English”.