You may think the question “how does an EU citizen get a British passport” a rather odd question to pose when we are in the countdown to Brexit. Given the reports in the media about threatened food shortages and almost the end of the world as we know it in Britain after the 29 March 2019, you would have thought that Brits would be decamping to countries in the EU. However, statistics do not lie and record numbers of EU citizens are applying to become British citizens to get British passports.
• There are 3.2million EU citizens living in the UK;
• In the final quarter of 2018, 34% of all applications for British nationality were made by EU citizens living in the UK;
• In 2018 the number of EU citizens granted British Citizenship increased by fifty per cent from the 2017 figures;
• It is estimated that the overall net migration figure to the UK over the last twelve months was 283,000 but EU migrants only totalled around 57,000 of that figure;
• Prior to the 2016 Brexit vote, about 190,000 EU citizens contributed to the overall net migration figure. In three tumultuous years since Brexit, the number of EU migrants has reduced from 190,000 to 57,000 people.
These statistics will come as a bit of a surprise to all but the best London immigration solicitors who has seen a massive rise in enquiries from EU citizens wanting to secure a British passport.
The latest statistics released by the Home Office and widely reported in the newspapers show that since the 2016 referendum, far fewer EU citizens have come to live in the UK than before the Brexit vote. Many assumed that if immigration from EU citizens had slowed right down, those EU citizens already living in the UK would vote with their feet and leave the UK. However, the statistics show that EU citizens are doing the complete opposite and investing in their futures in the UK by applying for British Citizenship. It seems that although fewer EU citizens are choosing to come to live in the UK, those that do live in the UK want to stay and to document their status as UK residents.
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For advice on applying for British Citizenship, Naturalisation, a permanent residence document or for settled status under the settlement scheme, please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors.
The best London immigration solicitors are being consulted by EU citizens to look at the various options for them to remain resident in the UK post Brexit and explore what advantages British Citizenship and a British passport can confer on an individual EU citizen and their family.
An EU citizen does not have to acquire British Citizenship to stay in the UK after Brexit. EU citizens have the option of permanent residence or settled status under the EU settlement scheme. The top London immigration solicitors advise that permanent residence give EU citizens the right to live in the UK permanently, without needing to apply for visas to remain in the UK post Brexit.
In the anticipated post Brexit world, some EU citizens feel that there are many tangible and intangible benefits of British Citizenship, including acquiring the full rights of a British national and the right to apply for a British passport.
However, once the decision is taken that British Citizenship is the right option for an EU citizen there is a process to follow, the first step being to secure a permanent residence document or settled status in order to then be able to proceed to apply for British Citizenship.
The number of permanent residence card applications has fallen away following the Home Office introduction of settled status under the EU settlement scheme. This scheme is designed for EU citizens who are in the UK before Brexit and want the right to stay in the UK post Brexit.
EU citizens and permanent residence status
The best London immigration solicitors advise that EU nationals are eligible to apply for a permanent residence card if they have lived in the UK for five years. Although a permanent residence card is not necessary for an EU citizen to continue to live in the UK, it is a prerequisite to applying for British Citizenship.
The top London immigration solicitors say that because the rules on permanent residence cards will change after Brexit with EU citizens now able to apply for settled status under the EU settlement scheme the massive rise in applications for permanent residence cards may fall as settled status applications become more popular.
EU citizens and settled status
EU citizens who have been living continuously in the UK for five years can apply for settled status under the EU settlement scheme as part of the government’s Brexit planning.
If an EU citizen is granted settled status, they are entitled to the same benefits and public services as British citizens and will be allowed to apply for British Citizenship.
The best London immigration solicitors advise that EU nationals can now apply for settled status and have until 30 June 2021 if the UK leaves with a Brexit deal and 31 December 2020 if the UK country leaves without a Brexit deal.
Many EU citizens are concerned that they have not lived in the UK for the requisite five years and so cannot apply for settled status. EU nationals who are living in the UK prior to Brexit but have not yet reached five years residence requirement can register and apply for pre-settled status. If granted pre-settled status the EU citizen has the right to live in the UK and work until they reach the five-year residence requirement for settled status. Once granted settled status they will then be able to move on, if they wish to do so, with an application for British Citizenship.
How does an EU citizen apply for a British passport?
The current “passport” for an EU citizen to obtain a British passport is for the EU citizen to:
• Have lived in the UK for five years or more;
• Then live in the UK for another year after getting the permanent residence card (unless the EU citizen has already lived in the UK for a year after qualifying for a permanent residence card or is the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen in which case the British Citizenship application can be made immediately);
• Once British Citizenship has been obtained, a British passport can be applied for.
EU citizens and the hostile environment
After Brexit, the immigration laws on entry and continued residence in the UK will be the same for non-EEA citizens and EU citizens who either enter the UK after Brexit or EU citizens who do not have the correct paperwork for their individual immigration situation. Accordingly, EU citizens could increasingly face the hostile environment, and that could include immigration detention centres and removal from the UK. Scaremongering? The best London immigration solicitors do not think so as last year 3,800 EU citizens were removed from the UK. With Brexit that figure is only likely to rise.
Obtaining a British passport through a British Citizenship application is just one option for EU citizens to secure their UK post Brexit future. However, there are other measures, such as settled status under the EU settlement scheme. This scheme can provide EU citizens with the security they seek to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit, free of immigration control and the hostile environment.