NEWS » Rush to join the registry of Italians living abroad

Rush to join the registry of Italians living abroad

In less than 1 year from now, the UK is going to leave the EU. Since the news broke out, EU nationals living in the UK rushed to register on the register of citizens living abroad of their country of origin to be able to apply to UK citizenship. 

Brexit is bringing out a hitherto submerged crowd of Italians living in England. The uncertainty related to the exit of Great Britain from the European Union is bringing tens of thousands of Italians, some resident for years, to want to regularise their position by joining the Aire, the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad.

The numbers are increasing at such a pace that the Consulate General of London has overtaken Buenos Aires, becoming the first in the world by number of members and workloads. Aire members were 280 thousand a year ago, while now there are 315 thousand, the highest ever recorded by a consulate, and will reach 350 thousand by Easter. The pre-Brexit registrations were 1,800 a month, now they are between 3,000 and 3,200 a month.

In the first quarter of 2017, 9,400 EU applicants sought UK citizenship –  three times as many as in the same period of the previous year.

Applications from France, Germany and Italy more than quadrupled to 4,790 — the highest such figure in at least seven years.

The number of applications from French nationals quadrupled from 208 to 848 between the first quarter of 2016 to the same period in 2017.

Meanwhile, a drop of 84,000 was recorded in net migration to the UK, caused by a big increase in EU citizens leaving the country as well as a smaller decrease in people coming to the UK.

However, not only are EU citizens worried about not being able to live in the UK, but also British people don’t want to be denied their chance to live in Europe. This reflected in a surge in applications for Irish passports among Britons, which saw an increase by 70 per cent in a year. According to Ireland's ambassador to the UK 70,000 Irish passports were issued in 2016 compared with a previous average of 50,000.

EU citizens can apply to become UK citizens if they can prove they have been resident in the UK for five years and are able to pass exams that assess their ability to speak the English language and their knowledge of British history and customs.

Adult citizenship applicants must pay £1,282, plus a total of £200 to take the required tests and £80 to attend a citizenship ceremony, while registering an under-18 costs £973.

According to the present agreement people who, by 29 March 2019, have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for 5 years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting “settled status”. That means they will be free to live in the UK, have access to public funds and services and go on to apply for British citizenship.

People who arrive by 29 March 2019 but won’t have been living in the UK lawfully for 5 years by that time, will be able to apply to stay until they have reached the 5-year threshold, after which they can apply for settled status.

Giulia Lombardo

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