EU expats in new rush for UK citizenship

Applications made by EU nationals for UK citizenship rose sharply over the last 12 months. Polish applications made up a significant number of EU expats applying for citizenship in the UK.

EU flag: Citizenship application to the UK on the rise
The number of EU nationals applying for British citizenship has more than doubled in the year since the Brexit referendum, according to official figures.

EU applications for citizenship on the rise

In the year to September, 32,856 people from other EU nations applied for citizenship, an increase from 15,766 in the previous 12 months – a rise of more than 108 per cent.Meanwhile, the number of people from elsewhere in the world seeking citizenship fell by 17 per cent to 104,430 over the same period.It meant that applications from EU nationals accounted for almost a quarter of the 137,286 registrations over the 12 months, compared to just 11 per cent in the year ending September 2016.
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Poles were by far the largest number of EU citizens applying for citizenship, with 7,163 registering in the latest period, but there was a surge in applications – from 6,244 to 16,164 – from expats from the 14 longer-term member states, including Italy, France and Germany.  “Increases in applications from EU nationals in recent years are likely to reflect immigration in earlier years while the most recent rise may be partly due to the impact of rule changes and recent events,” said the Home Office.“Variations in numbers of decisions can be affected by changes in resources and the mix of cases, as well as policy changes and application levels in earlier periods.”

Home office committed to simplifying citizenship application process

Prof Jonathan Portes, professor of economics and public police at King’s College, London, said, “There has been a dramatic rise in the number of EU citizens applying for both resident status and citizenship. This is hardly surprising given the post-Brexit uncertainty about their future rights.“The good news is that after a number of widely-publicised errors that have damaged the UK’s reputation in Europe, the Home Office appears to be committed to streamlining and simplifying the process.”Prof Portes added that, historically, immigrants from outside the EU had been much more likely than EU nationals to apply for UK citizenship. But he said that because of the uncertainty over their future status “many EU citizens living here are seeking UK citizenship, at least as an insurance policy”.For related news and features, visit our Immigration section. Look out for the launch of 2018's Relocate Awards, entry open in January.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

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