Naturalisation numbers surge ahead of referendum
The number of EU citizens applying for British citizenship in the third quarter of 2015 rose from 4,179 to 5,245 between October and December. According to figures obtained by the Times newspaper under a freedom of information request and published in the Daily Express, that constitutes a rise of just over 20%. The increase has been attributed to concerns arising from the impending referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, which is due to be held on June 23rd.
Eastern European applications surge
A breakdown of those figures showed the largest proportion of the increase was attributable to Bulgarian and Romanian settlers who, having completed their five years’ residency period, had become entitled to British citizenship. Poles and Hungarians were also notable as significant contributors to the increases.
The number of Romanians and Bulgarians applying for British nationality rose from 784 to 1,119 in the final three months of last year. That is an increase of 42%.
Over the same period, the number of applications from Polish nationals also rose from 1,145 to 1,590, whilst the figures for Hungarians increased from 217 to 303. The number of French nationals seeking British nationality went up from 207-243.
Ironic spur to increased applications
Perhaps ironically, the drive to hold a referendum – as advanced by the so called ‘Brexit’ campaign – is causing a surge in applications for British citizenship from precisely the constituency that campaigners have been objecting to. Their concern of these workers is that, should Britain leave the EU, their rights to live and work in the UK may be compromised. Should the referendum result in a British exit there is considerable uncertainty as to how such individuals will be treated. In the face of that uncertainty, the value of a British passport – to those already living and working in the UK – becomes even more pronounced.
The latest Office for National Statistics figures for the UK’s migration statistics are available here.
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