Brexit: Keeping EU Citizenship

Imy Clarke - On behalf of Alchemy Recruitment, September 30, 2016

In the wake of Brexit, the loss of EU citizenship was lamented by thousands of people across the country as they realized they would lose freedom of movement to live and work. As such, a nationwide frenzy began to find any loophole or arrangement that would allow them to maintain this citizenship, and we have put together a list of some of the most popular methods…

Check Your Ancestry

Many EU states will allow you to claim a passport from their country if you have ancestry that stems from there, within certain regulations. The Post Office reported an unusually high number of people seeking out Irish passports as the government in Dublin allows people with just a single Irish grandparent to claim Irish citizenship, and, as long as each generation registers this, it is a claim that can continue to be passed on for generations to come.

Italy, however, has absolutely no limit on the number of generations back that you would like to stretch your ancestral claim but there are a couple of catches; firstly, no one in the chain of ancestry much have renounced their Italian citizenship, and secondly women can only pass on this claim after 1948. For those with ancestors who were forced to flee countries under the persecution of events such as the Holocaust, they might also be able to gain restored citizenship. It’s time to dig out that family tree…

Estonia E-Residency
Estonia caused a stir in 2015 when they launched their ‘e-residency’ program, allowing anyone from anywhere in the world to sign up via the internet to receive an Estonian government ID and a special category of residency. While this may not give you actual Estonian citizenship or even rights to live there, it does have a few advantages.

The main advantage is that you can use the e-residency to set up an Estonian business, without ever having to physically go to Estonia. By extension you become an EU company and so able to trade in all EU countries, as well as being welcome to administer from anywhere in the world. 

Invest
If you’re lucky enough to have a fairly flexible and extensive income, then you can even fast track your way to an EU membership via certain countries. The Maltese government will be willing to fast track you on their citizenship program for a mere €1.15m and single year of residency, or by owning a property on the island. Cyprus, for a slightly more expensive €2.5m of government bonds will instantly register you as an EU citizen. Even better, no actual residency is required. 

Marry Another EU Citizen
By marrying an EU citizen from another member state you can also fast track yourself to EU citizenship, although each state has different laws, so it’s always worth checking before you sign that marriage certificate. For example, the Netherlands and France don’t require you to live in their country before you apply for citizenship, though there is a minimum marriage time. Italy and Portugal, however, have minimum marriage and residency times before you can gain citizenship.

Study Abroad 
A rather alien notion to the UK, but foreign students are smiled upon in other EU states, and after spending several years educating these students, the member states actively seek to keep them in the country to contribute to their society. In France, for example, instead of having to be a resident for five years before becoming a French citizen, this can be dropped to two years if you’ve already studied at a French university for two years. Many courses can also be taught in English and some countries even charge foreign students the same price as home students.

Move Abroad
This is the most basic and obvious way to gain citizenship of another EU member state, though typically it’s the most time consuming, and uprooting your entire life away from family and friends is quite drastic for the sake of a passport. Different countries have different rules, but most, including Sweden and Germany, require residency of at least five years or more, a demonstration of language skills and cultural awareness in order to qualify for citizenship. 

Besides all of this and the panic over the loss of free movement, the British passport still remains one of the most useful passports you can have, giving you visa-free access to 175 countries. While working and moving abroad might be more of a hassle, maintaining that British connection, at least for the moment, is very much a benefit. 

Posted in categories: Domestic, Family Relocation, International
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