Huge Increase In EU Expats Applying For UK Citizenship

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Published:  10 Jun at 6 PM
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Around 200 EU expats living and working in the UK are now applying for British citizenship every day.

Prior to the Brexit referendum, some 12 per cent of citizenship applications were from EU nationals, but figures released in March indicated the number has risen to 33 per cent over the past year. During the first quarter of this year, some 18,000 applications were received, as against 11,000 in the same quarter last year. Experts in international migration believe the increases are due to concern over expats’ rights as well as the ongoing legacy of the Windrush scandal.

As it stands at present, the government’s scheme for EU citizen migrants allows all those who arrive before the end of December next year will be given settled status after they have lived in Britain for over five years. Settled status guarantees residency and working rights although the scheme is not yet in the statute book, raising fears it could be chanced or cancelled.

According to Birmingham University international migration professor Nando Sigona, the fear of rights removal is the main reason for the increasing numbers of citizenship applications, as a majority of EU citizen immigrants don’t trust the British government or its scheme. Applications for British citizenship cost £1,330 and require applicants to be able to speak some English, pass a ‘Life in the UK’ test and be resident for at lease five years. Citizenship is now being seen as the only way to safely anchor expats in the UK, thus allowing them to continue in their jobs and take care of their families.

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