When the Brexit decision was made I was sailing around the Aegean Sea blissfully ignoring the impact this decision would have made in my life. Two years later, and I found myself being nervous of what the future holds for foreigners in the UK. Never in my life would I imagined that my right to remain in the UK as a European citizen would have been as uncertain as it is today. No wonder why so many of my colleagues and ex-classmates, when Article 50 was invoked, felt unwelcome in the UK and proceeded with finding jobs in other parts of the world.
Traditionally, if you were born in a country within the Schengen Area, then you are granted free movement and stay. Being Greek, I have enjoyed the privilege of free movement, travelling around Europe all these years without being accustomed to the strict and stressful process of applying for visas. However, with Brexit being the most hot topic of discussion in the Western World, and job applications asking you if you have the right to work and remain in the UK, I found myself wondering if I should apply for the British citizenship. And so my Odyssey begins…
Much like the Anglo-French War of the Grand Alliance, my invasion in Britain spanned almost 9 years ago, the likes of which found me staying in no more than 7 different cities throughout England and Scotland, before moving to Aberdeen. According to the British Government, for a person to apply and be granted the British citizenship, they should first apply for the Permanent Residency scheme on the condition that they have been living in the UK for the past 5 years; my residency in the UK is beyond this year limit so on paper I am good to go. Feeling like I deserve the fat cherry on top of a Sundae for living all these years away from my family and friends, I decided to proceed with the application. Only to find out that even though I have been living for more than the years they request, I would still need to wait for another year AFTER my Permanent Residency card arrives before I would be allowed to apply for the British Citizenship – largely, thanks to the mass amount of applications the Government has encountered after the Brexit news went live. Just imagine the numbers of Europeans that run in the middle of this whirlwind of Brexit storm to apply for a Citizenship to grant themselves the right to stay in a country that they have family, friends and a job!
Excited as I am to have a document that secures my stay in the UK, I am equally disappointed that I will have to pay a total amount of £1500 for all the applications and exams needed to take during the process (and don’t even get me started with the mandatory studying of laws and history). It’s insane how life has changed for Europeans living in the UK; from finding a job (will an employer take the risk to hire someone who might need to get a visa to stay in the workplace in a year’s time, and therefore, might be obliged to cover the cost of the employee’s visa?), to finding a place to stay and even studying in the UK!
If you are reading this and you are interested in applying for the British Citizenship, my advice to you is: do it fast. The rules change constantly and the fees have already increased, with rumours have it that they will double by the end of the Brexit negotiation. And before anything is said or done, please read the guidelines about Citizenship and living in the UK on the Home Office page.
Any of you going through the same process? What is your experience so far?