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Four Ways To Retain EU Citizenship After Brexit

24/11/2016 16:27
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Membership to the European Union allows citizens to live and work in any other member state. While the terms of Brexit are still up in the air, there's a significant possibility that British citizens will soon lose this fundamental right. There has been speculation over the last few months that renewing a passport could provide a short-term solution due to the "European Union" writing contained in the document, but this is not the case. As Theresa May has stated, "Brexit means Brexit."

If you want to retain your EU citizenship after Brexit, here are four options:

Exercising Blood/Birth Rights

Many European countries adopt some form of jus sanguinis (right of blood) or jus soli (right of soil) law (or a combination of both). In countries that recognize right of blood, such as Germany and Ireland, citizenship is attainable through parental descent, and possibly even maternal grandparents. Jus soli countries, such as France, may grant citizenship to those born in the country under special circumstances, regardless of ethnic or cultural origin. The processes used to attain citizenship through right of blood or right of birth (or both) heavily vary between EU member states.

Ireland is generally considered the most lax country in the EU with regards to granting citizenship, and approximately 10 percent of British citizens could exercise their "green blood" rights if needs be -- so check your family tree before looking at other options! In addition, Ireland recognizes duel citizenship and doesn't require applicants to even live in the country.

Marrying a Citizen of Another EU Country

In most EU countries you must be married for at least two years before you're allowed to apply for citizenship as a spouse. That said, marrying or "registering" your relationship will make the residency process a lot easier. For example, in Sweden registering as a sambo (relationship) can grant immigrants a residency permit and the ability to acquire citizenship rights for as long as the registration is valid; however, applicants must re-apply every couple of years. While a residency permit is not the same as having an EU passport, it could lead to naturalization, and eventually citizenship.

Using a Citizen-by-Investment Program

Buying citizenship is an option for a very small minority. Investing in certain countries, such as Malta, Spain and the Netherlands, could entitle you to either automatic citizenship or a fast-tracked route to citizenship. Malta is currently the cheapest, requiring at least one year of residency and a 1.15 million euro investment. In other countries expect to pay at least five million euros for the privilege of a passport... Citizenship-by-investment is currently a highly controversial practice that the European Commission does not encourage.

Gaining Citizenship Through Naturalization

Another option is to simply move abroad as soon as possible and wait until you can apply for citizenship. The minute the Government start placing restrictions on Freedom of Movement, other countries will follow suit, making the process much more difficult. While not guaranteed, it's likely that those who move before any official legislation is changed will retain their rights under the Vienna Convention.

It's fairly easy to become a Swedish or Finnish citizen. As well as being prosperous countries that always rank highly on the Human Development Index, both allow duel citizenship. According to Interpass, Finland is one of the easiest EU countries to join, requiring just five years of residency. The only other prerequisite is that you learn the language. In Sweden the naturalization time is also five years providing you are at least eighteen years old, have a clean criminal record, a basic understanding of the language, and a stable living situation.

Naturalization is the most viable way for the majority of Brits to retain EU citizenship. However, the rules could change at any time. MPs have already stated that Theresa May should enforce a cut off point in the not-so-distant future to curb a surge in migration. If this is applied before Brexit other countries will likely enforce the same legislation against British citizens, so best get packing!

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