A guide to surviving Brexit for Europeans

Alexandra D-S
Feb 8, 2017 · 4 min read

So there it is, tonight the government refused to give any protection to the 3M European citizens that have lived here and contributed to this country. That includes me and after ten years in this country, what should I do?

Apply for citizenship (naturalisation) of course!

I used to work as a secretary for an immigration lawyer as a young woman, so I got quite comfortable with paperwork. It’s not scary, it’s just about being diligent. So I thought I’d share some of what I found applying for citizenship as a professional with an Italian passport. So I’m not a lawyer, just trying to help.

First off: if you start your application right now, it will take you over a year and a half. So chop chop. Article 50 negotiations will take 2 years so no time to waste.

Assumptions:

  • you’ve been living in the UK more than 5 years
  • you’re applying on your own
  • you’re in employment
  • you’re older than 18
  • you haven’t committed any crimes

(If you’re a student, the spouse of a British, on a family or anything else, you’ll have to consult the very badly laid out government site for it. But it’s a gov.uk site I hear you say! Yes and it looks pretty but it gives you no sense of what’s important and how long it’ll take.)

Here’s a list of what you need to prepare if you’re planning on staying in the UK after Brexit as an EU citizen.

  1. Keep an eye on the Naturalisation page and the edits (at the bottom of the page), they change them all the time and there’s no way of getting updates or notification on changes. All you can see is a page history.
  2. Start saving up some money, the fees for naturalisation are currently £1282 (as of writing this)
  3. Start a travel spreadsheet with 5 columns
  • Country visited
  • Reason (Holiday, Business travel, visiting relatives)
  • Date of departure
  • Date of return to the UK
  • Total number of days absent (note the days of travel don’t count towards this total)

Fill in this in for the last five years. You will be referring to this a lot.

4. Buy the Life in the UK book (£12.99) and start studying it. You shouldn’t need more than 20 hours of study.

5. Book a Life in the Uk test (£50) in a local test centre. Stick to their ID requirements. Make sure you don’t bring printed e-bills as proof of address, they won’t take them. And yes I found out because I made that mistake.

6. If you have not studied in an accredited English speaking institution, you’ll have to prove you can speak english and sit a spoken test (ESOL) at a test centre. (£150)

7. You will have to collect P60s for the last 5 years and lots of information proving you have been working, employed at all times, running your own company, VAT returns, proof of payments, payslips, etc. It doesn’t matter if you decide to hire a lawyer or not, they can’t fish those documents out for you, so start digging.

Brace yourself now.

Official Step 1: Apply for a permanent residence document

  • Apply to Prove your right to stay in the UK as an EU citizen. (£65) which you co do online. It looks long but it isn’t, half of it won’t even apply to you.
  • As part of this you should book an appointment at your local council for a European passport return service so they can verify your passport in person and they won’t take it away from you. (The fee depends on the council, I paid £25)
  • This can take up to 6 months to process. Mine took 2.

Once you have this, you may need to wait 12 months. From page 9 of the guide.

“[you need to] have held permanent resident status for 12 months before applying for naturalisation. This means that you may need to wait until you have been in the United Kingdom for 6 years before you can apply. When you apply for a permanent residence document the evidence that you supply for your EEA(PR) application must be for a 5 year period that ended at least a year before you want to apply for citizenship.

For example:
If you apply for Permanent Residence on 1 March 2017 and want to apply for citizenship once that application is decided, you should send evidence that shows you were exercising Treaty rights as a qualified person or family member from 1 March 2011 to 1 March 2016.”

Official Step 2: Naturalisation

NB: Make sure you have not travelled for more than 90 days in the year prior to your application AND you were in the UK “on the day 5 years before the application is received by the Home Office”. Random I know.

  • Fill in the AN application (£1282)
  • Book an appointment at your local NCS (National Checking Service) who will go through your application with you right there and then (Cost £0!) They’ll also photocopy your passport, residence permit and documents right there and hand them back to you.
  • They will take between 3–6 months to come back with a decision.
  • Once they take your money (only £80 is refunded if the application is denied) they will mail you to confirm they have taken your money and will ask you to go to a Post Office to get your picture and fingerprints taken for a biometric residence permit (£19.20) Don’t ask me why they don’t do that at the NCS directly. Outsourcing innit.

So in total this process will cost you £1574.19 but at the next elections at least you get your say.

See you in 2020 dear Tories.

Written by

Author of 'Smarter Homes: how technology has changed your home life' (Apress, 2018) Writing a book on corporate innovation culture out in 2020. Designer. UK.

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