This ‘rush to registration’ is further fuelled by the Government’s refusal to guarantee the status of EU nationals living in the United Kingdom after the country’s full withdrawal from the European Union – at least not until after Brexit negotiations are complete.
With over 3 million EU citizens currently living in the United Kingdom, there are fears that the Government will be overwhelmed by applications and, earlier in April, the Home Office took matters into its own hands. First, it emailed immigration specialists – alerting them to the fact that, so long as the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, EU nationals are not required to take any action to preserve their right to reside in the country. Second, it updated its official website, in what many immigration specialists have defined an attempt at discouraging applications for residence.
Today, the Home Office website reads: “You do not need to do anything as a result of Article 50 being triggered. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU. Under EU law you don’t need a document to confirm your residence status in the UK. If you’re planning to apply for a document just to confirm your status, you can sign up for email alerts instead. These email updates will let you know about developments that might affect you, including the steps that you may need to take to confirm your status in the UK after we leave the EU.”
The goal of the Home Office seems to be to assuage concerns about the rights of EU citizens, but the measure is at risk of being temporary for, if EU nationals will lose their automatic rights to live and work in the United Kingdom, then more and more individuals will seek the relative certainty of permanent residence.
Citizenship – a status that cannot be lost once achieved other than in extremely unusual circumstances – is only available after having lived in the United Kingdom for five years. A speedier option for those seeking a quick route to obtaining a second nationality is citizenship by investment, a legal process whereby an individual makes a substantial contribution to the economy of a country in exchange for citizenship. In the Caribbean, where nations such as St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Grenada have all refined their application processes, citizenship can be obtained in three months or less.