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Consular News – Embassy 67

EU nationals rush for Residency

Waiting times for the processing of Perma nent Residency (PR) for EU nationals has “increased exponentially” because UKVI had been “inundated” since Britain’s vote to leave the EU, Mark Rimmer, the Head of Nationality at Brent Council told consuls at the annual Embassy Consular Conference.

According to the latest immigration statistics published by the Home Office, the number of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members who were granted permanent residence rose by 44% to 14,472 in the third quarter of 2016 compared to the previous three-months’ figure of 10,069.

As a result EU nationals face a wait of six months “or possibly even longer” for their PR applications to be processed, said Rimmer. This meant passports or ID were being retained for up to two months.

The head of immigration at law firm Kingley Napley Nicholas Rollason advised consuls to signpost their nationals to the Home Office’s new European Passport Return Service (EPRS), launched on 1 October, in conjunction with online applications for PR. The service costs £10, PR processing is quicker and it is open to nationals from the EEA and Switzerland.

The EPRS is operated by local authorities, who photocopy the passport and forward a copy along with the application to the Home Office. Applicants are able to retain their passports while their applications are pending.

EU citizens were advised to apply for PR to gain certainty over their future in the UK, said Rollason. It  guarantees the right to work should the UK apply a work permit scheme for EU nationals and it is also a necessary first step towards gaining British citizenship.

UK citizens seek dual EU nationality
Meanwhile EU consulates have reported to Embassy an increase in enquiries from UK citizens about the possibility of obtaining dual nationality in order to guarantee their freedom of movement in the EU after Brexit.

The Irish Consulate in particular has experienced a spike in citizenship applications since the June 23 referendum.

According to a report in The Guardian the Embassy received more than 2,800 applications for citizenship from people on the Foreign Births Register (individuals with Irish ancestry) compared with 235 applications in the first three months of 2016.

The Irish Passport Office reported this week that it had had “a record-breaking year” having issued 700,000 passports, 30,000 more than in 2015.

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