13 June 2019
The first quarter saw a record 18,011 applications – an average of 200 a day, which represented a 52 per cent increase on the corresponding period last year – apparently because EU nationals were seeking more post-Brexit security than that offered by the government’s ‘settled status’ scheme.
Research published last week by the University of Birmingham’s Eurochildren project found that the share of applications for naturalisation by EU27 residents in the UK had increased from five per cent in 2007 to 26 per cent in 2017.
“More than 80,000 EU residents have applied for naturalisation since the EU referendum. Many more are still uncertain on their legal status,” said the university. “Many EU nationals do not trust the UK government’s settled status scheme and are being pushed to apply for British citizenship to secure the position of their families.”
The rush in the first three months was partly due to the fact the UK was originally due to leave the bloc on March 29. In the year to this March, 55,300 applications were made and 46,000 granted, although some of the latter reflected applications made earlier, while some of the former are still outstanding.
Under the settled status scheme, EU27 citizens who have lived in Britain for five years continuously can apply to remain permanently and retain existing rights to work and live for themselves and their families.
However, many European citizens fear that the scheme could be changed when it is presented for parliamentary approval.