With the referendum on whether the UK should leave the European looming, many Brits living in continental Europe and Europeans living in the UK are concerned for the future. In fact, many are so concerned that they are taking steps towards going dual nationality in order to maintain their current way of life.
Research conducted by the Guardian showed that a large majority of Europeans in the UK are changing nationality or citizenship or have serious concerns that their lives would become more difficult if Britain voted to leave the EU.
The main concerns expressed by the respondents in the Guardian survey were as follows:
• That employees would once again require work permits to work in the UK or Brits abroad would need authorisation to work in the EU,
• EU only passport lines would be abolished in the UK,
• the current healthcare arrangements for Brits abroad or European citizens in the UK would be abolished,
• it would become more difficult for UK citizens to study in the EU and vice versa,
• there would be tighter restrictions on business and trade
• Foreign property and cash transfers would attract higher taxes
• There may be different treatment of foreign pensions
It is estimated that the consequences of a ‘Brexit’ would affect 2.4 million EU citizens living in the uK and also the 2 million UK citizens living in Europe. While what exactly will happen is unclear, many of these people are not leaving their livelihood to chance and are now applying for dual citizenship. If you are in this situation, here is a quick guide.
How Can I apply for Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship or dual nationality is permitted in the UK. However, some countries do not allow this so you must check this before you apply for UK citizenship. Dual citizenship allows you to be both a citizen of the UK as well as of other countries.
There are a number of ways to become a British citizen, however, the most common of these is known as ‘naturalisation’. In order to attain British citizenship by naturalisation you must:
• Be aged 18 or over
• Be of ‘good character’. This means you must not have any serious convictions or a recent criminal record, you must not have attempted to deceive the home office or committed any immigration offences in the past ten years.
• Continue to live in the UK.
• Have met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
• Meet the residency requirement
Normally, you will also be required to have:
• Lived in the UK for five years prior to making your application
• Spent less than 450 days working outside the UK in the last five years. - Spent less than 90 days outside the UK in the preceding 12 months of your application.
• Been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or if you are an EEA national, permanent residence.
• Not breached any immigration rules while you have been in the UK.
However, if your spouse or civil partner is a UK citizen the process is slightly different. You should check the government website for more information: spouse or civil partner is a British citizen.
You can apply on behalf of any child aged under 18 so long as they meet the criteria listed above. However, they are not required to complete the Life in the UK test.
You should be aware that acquiring UK citizenship is significantly more expensive than in other places in the EU - it can cost thousands of pounds depending on the size of your family.
For more on applying for a dual citizenship and the EU, read our guide on the European Convention
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