Think! British Passport before you Leave…

Brexit vote and the ensuing Brexit negotiations triggered enquiries as to the British citizenship entitlement. Many Europeans felt secure enough to come to the UK and leave the UK as many times as they liked after having established an entitlement to permanent residence, but have not claimed it. This puts these individuals into a very disadvantageous position as to their ability to enter the UK after having left the UK and not claimed their entitlement to the status they have earned.

Here is a list of some disadvantages that may arise in the future:

1. Ability to claim British citizenship after leaving the UK

Brexit vote on 23 June 2016 referendum triggered enquiries from European families as to their entitlement to British citizenship. These families are now based overseas. However, they have assets and continued interests in the UK. They want to be able to come here frequently, visit the places they like, spend holidays with their children and check on their properties and investments from time to time and attend to the UK  compliance formalities if and when required.

Some clients were able to do so years after they have left the UK. Currently, the entitlement is not as clear. Therefore, they would like to make the necessary arrangements to keep the entitlement in the future. One of the ways they can do so is to  seek to have their permanent residence status recognised retrospectively and entertain possible eligibility to British citizenship.

There are at least two difficulties pertaining to this scenario. One is that permanent residence status even if recognised retrospectively, it expires automatically after 2 years of non-residence in the UK.

It can be quite entertaining to listen some well-intended comments the Europeans are willing to make. For instance, nobody knows I left or I was not living in the UK. However, the opposite is true. As the matter of fact, a person leaving the UK has the duty to notify authorities about them leaving the UK.

In order to obtain a permanent residence status, substantial evidence is required in order to prove one’s entitlement to permanent residence status, especially as to their actual residence and to demonstrate that there were no substantial absences from the UK.

In particular, if for instance, one is renting out their property, it may be more beneficial to inform the tax authorities that they have left as the arrangements may be made to claim rent in full under non-resident landlord’s scheme. Also, it is possible to be inadvertently subjecting oneself to double taxation and minimising own income prospects and additional tax compliance implications to be met between at least two countries.

The second issue is, if the permanent status is not expired, is the difficulty to meet  UK residence requirement. For instance, the clients have exceeded the day limit they have had to be resident in the UK in order to continue their entitlement to British citizenship. In certain cases, discretionary citizenship applications may be made. However, it is not advisable as the risk of getting rejected is much greater.

There is also the third consideration and commitment that needs to be entertained. The fact, that one has to continue to remain in the UK once British citizenship application is being completed and processed. The usual processing times for British citizenship is six months. Therefore, it is a substantial commitment. For non-EEU/Swiss nationals this commitment may be particularly inconvenient as they cannot travel overseas without their passports. They have to continue to live in the UK until their citizenship application is successful or rejected.

2. Ability to pass on the British citizenship entitlement to their children

British and European nationals are less concerned about their ability to pass British citizenship entitlement to their children. This is compared to non-EEA/Swiss nationals, as these individuals have the first hand experience of what it means to be living on the sidelines.

Such as, the citizenship of the home country is not as strong, so as to give the option of  a hassle free and visa free entry to the countries of choice or do not give sufficient diplomatic protection to the individuals stranded or in serious trouble overseas. Some countries may be as small as not to be able to provide diplomatic protection all across the globe.

British passport is regarded as one of the most powerful passports worldwide. Overseas individuals see it as a valuable asset. Therefore, overseas individuals when coming to the UK will want to secure their path to possible British citizenship before they arrive. They will also make all the necessary arrangements to secure British citizenship, never lose it and pass it on to their children, in order to secure their future.

Children born to parents who are not British citizens and who have lived in the UK sufficiently long in order to secure permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain, will be entitled to British citizenship. However, if the child is born to such parents overseas, such child will not be able to secure British citizenship status. Similarly, the children of British citizens by descent born overseas will not be able to secure their British citizenship automatically.

3. Ability to enter the UK after Brexit

The most upsetting feature is to have to pass through the web of immigration rules and restrictions all over again after not claiming the eligibility to the status already secured. This means if you have lived in the UK long enough to earn entitlement to permanent residence and have not claimed it, you are most likely be faced with more stringent requirements to again acquire the eligibility to British citizenship you have lost.

In fact, it was made clear that the purpose of the newly introduced settled status to Europeans who have not claimed British citizenship is to review the entitlement of these individuals to continue to live in the UK. The application process for the settled status for European nationals is supposed to be the most simple one, online and not require an immigration lawyer. The trouble is that individual circumstances may be more complex than the online system will permit to acknowledge or provide the necessary explanations and supporting evidence.

It has been continuously explained that the newly acquired settled status should permit EEA/Swiss nationals to secure their UK residence rights throughout their lifetime after  the Brexit. The question is whether one continues to remain eligible to claim their settled  status as one leaves the UK to live overseas or if one continues to live overseas as their personal circumstances have changed.

Should you be looking to explore the options that are available to you or for the members of your family, please feel free to contact us via e-mail: saule@hnilondon.co.uk or phone +44 (0)203 286 4887.

My passion is international trade and investment. I have been specialising in global strategies for wealth creation and protection for the last ten years. I am a public accountant and a regulated UK immigration services adviser. I have personally benefitted from EU freedoms and served as a specialist adviser for a national government.

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Posted in British citizenship, EEA/Swiss nationals in the UK, Family Members of EEA/Swiss Nationals, Non-EU nationals: investors, entrepreneurs and business owners, Turkish Nationals

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Saule Voluckyte
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