‘Civic integration’ programmes and tests for third-country nationals (TCNs) have increasingly become part of member states’ legislation implementing EC immigration law and the EU Framework on Integration. The civic dimension of integration consists of various programmes and tests requiring TCNs to demonstrate that they know and respect the receiving society’s history, institutions and values. This paper assesses the tensions inherent in the relationship between civic integration programmes and the principles of legal certainty, proportionality and non-discrimination. This paper compares national immigration legislation in four member states – Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands. It studies the personal and material scope of civic integration provisions as well as the political justifications promulgated by their governments for introducing these kinds of policies. This comparison enables us to identify the common deficits of these member states’ policies. We argue that by providing a supranational venue for the transferring and legitimising certain national policies that use civic integration to restrict immigration, the legitimacy and coherency of the EU immigration policy is profoundly affected by the same deficits. The consequences endanger some of the key principles upon which the EU legal system and its immigration policy have been built. That notwithstanding, we conclude that owing to the progressive Europeanisation of immigration policy, member states are no longer free to use integration as a derogative clause for TCNs to have access to rights and protection in the EU.