Applications for British citizenship have risen dramatically as European Union (EU) nationals seek to secure their position ahead of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU in 2019.  The number of German, Italian and French nationals applying for British citizenship has more than trebled in three years.  The Home Office have stated that this is likely to be linked to the uncertainty which has been created following the referendum result.

Almost 30,000 EU nationals applied for British citizenship between June 2016 and June 2017, double the previous year.  EU nationals now account for nearly 30% of all British citizenship applications compared with about 10% in June 2016.  The UK’s departure from the EU appears to have cemented many continental relationships as there has been a significant rise in EU nationals applying for British citizenship through marriage.

The significant increase in applications comes at a time when net migration of EU nationals has fallen to its lowest level in over five years.  In the year ending March 2018, just under 90,000 EU nationals migrated to the UK, down from just under 190,000 in the year ending June 2016. The significant decrease in EU nationals is adding to fears that following Brexit, there will be a significant skills shortage in various areas of the UK’s economy.

For EU nationals looking to secure their status in the UK, they can consider applying for permanent residence if they have been working in the UK for a period of five years.  Once they have held permanent residence for a period of one year, they may be able to proceed to naturalise as a British citizen whilst those married to British Citizens may be able to apply straightaway.  However, each situation needs to be considered carefully to ensure that all relevant rules and requirements are met before any application is made to the Home Office.

For advice on this or any other immigration matter, please contact Sohan Sidhu.