British expats across Europe now claiming foreign citizenship and a second passport

Published:  6 Feb at 6 PM
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Even before Brexit becomes a reality, many thousands of British citizens have voted with their feet by applying for European citizenship.

One major reason for expatriating is that the UK just doesn’t feel like home any more, according to those who can’t wait to leave or have already left. Those with Irish grandparents are the luckiest, with 200,000 Brits claiming to be descendents of Irish citizens stating their relationships on their passport applications in 2018. The mass exodus includes those whose families were originally from Northern Ireland, as a longstanding law allows residency in any part of the island to those who were born prior to 2005 to an Irish citizen living in the north. The same rule applies to any person born to an Irish parent after 2005.

British citizens who’ve researched their genealogy and discovered a parental or grandparental link to Ireland are also being granted Irish citizenship, and comprise around half of the numbers who've applied. The total number of applicants has doubled since the June 2016 referendum, with the majority of the increase coming from the mainland. Chair of the Irish Sinead’s Brexit Committee Neale Richmond is claiming some 10 per cent or more of Britons living outside Ireland have Irish connections which entitle them to citizenship and an Irish passport. The claim is tricky to verify but, even if it’s only partly true and Brexit becomes the disaster it’s predicted to be, numbers claiming irish decent are sure to double or more over the next several years.

It’s not just Ireland which is seeing a huge increase in requests for foreign citizenship, as dual nationality applications from disenchanted Brit expats are being processed across the entire continent of Europe. Sweden, Malta, Hungary, Austria, Cyprus and Denmark as well as Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Sweden are all seeing increases in the number of citizenship applications from Britons, and little Latvia is another hub as descendents of Latvians who fled the 1944 Soviet invasion apply to get their citizenship rights re-established. Across Europe, British expat students are attempting to ensure they’re able to continue with their courses by getting residency and a second passport, and members of families who fled the Nazis are now claiming back their German citizenship as a result of Brexit.
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