In the 12 months following last June’s Brexit referendum, nearly 30,000 EU nationals applied to become British citizens.
This contrasts with the previous year, 2015 – 2016, when only 15,871 EU nationals applied for British nationality. This is an increase of 80% applications. This is even though total applications for British nationality in the 12 months following the referendum, fell by 8%, showing that not as many non-EU nationals have applied for British nationality, compared to EU nationals. Indeed, the number of applications from applicants from the rest of the world has fallen by 18% in the last 12 months.
Why is this happening?
This rise can be attributed directly to the Brexit referendum. EU nationals feel very uncertain about their future, following the UK’s exit from the EU and are looking to obtain UK citizenship to protect themselves, particularly since many EU nationals have UK national spouses and children. The Home Office have confirmed that the majority of applications came from Polish applicants (6179 applications), however the highest increase of applications from the previous year were from Italian nationals (up by 166%) French nationals (up by 168.5%) and German nationals (up by 193.4%).
What about the other EU nationals living in the UK?
A well-known fact is that the UK is home to 3 million EU citizens, however not all these people are eligible for British nationality. The Office for National Statistics have recently revealed that net migration has fallen by 81,000 to 246,000 in the 12 months prior to March 2017. This is partially because the number of EU citizens who decided to leave the UK was 122,000, the highest departure number for nearly a decade. Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “Faced with the uncertainty of Brexit, it appears that EU citizens have responded in different ways – some have been trying to solidify their rights to remain in the UK, while others have been voting with their feet and leaving.”
Should I apply now or later?
It appears that EU nationals who are unable to take power into their hands and apply for British citizenship, have decided to exit the UK. This would be due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and a feeling of being unwelcome in the UK. Many EU nationals however do not have the option to leave as they have British children and careers established in the UK.
We would recommend that anyone who has Permanent Residency in the UK, who wishes to apply for British citizenship, should consider doing so as soon as possible, before the new immigration system is introduced. If you apply now, you will avoid applying for Permanent Residency twice, before applying for and obtaining British Citizenship.
Sassa Karakatsianis, Immigration Specialist
September 14, 2017UK visa & immigration consultation
1 Albemarle Street,
Tel: 020 7043 6026
Fax: 020 3384 0199