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BREXIT

Should British-Danish dual citizenship applicants also apply for post-Brexit residency?

British nationals who are applying for, or have been approved for, Danish citizenship in 2021 likely also need to apply for post-Brexit residency in Denmark.

Should British-Danish dual citizenship applicants also apply for post-Brexit residency?
British nationals with active Danish citizenship applications are likely to need to apply for post-Brexit residency status. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

British nationals who moved to Denmark under EU free movement rules before December 31st 2020 must submit an application for new residence status and a new residence document in 2021.

But what about those who are applying or have already been approved for Danish citizenship?

Citizenship entitles you to a Danish passport and gives you the right to vote in parliamentary elections, as well as providing a permanent basis for residency in the country. It also means you retain the right to live and work in Denmark (and other EU countries) even if you leave Denmark.

You must, of course, meet a number of closely-defined criteria and requirements in order to be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.

Permanent residency means that a person is allowed to stay in Denmark and does not need to apply for residence again, though is important to note that if you leave Denmark for more than two years, you will have to revoke your permanent residency. 

It also means you no longer need to meet the conditions for your original grounds for residence, so you won’t lose your right to reside in Denmark if you stop working or studying, for example.

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But if you are a British national who is eligible for Danish citizenship, and even if you have already applied for Danish citizenship, you probably need to apply for the post-Brexit residence status as well.

If you have applied for Danish citizenship but not yet received a decision, you need to apply for the post-Brexit status. That is because you would not be expected to become a full Danish citizen by the end of 2021.

Under Danish law, citizenship can only be granted to foreign nationals via legal nationalisation: applications must be voted through by parliament. Successful applicants for citizenship receive notification that they will be accepted on the next naturalisation bill. These are normally put forward twice a year, in April and October, and voted through around June and December respectively.

But once the bill with your successful citizenship claim has passed parliament, you are still not a full citizen until you have attended a so-called ‘citizenship ceremony’ at your local municipality and shaken hands with a local official.

Dependent on how far you have come through this process in 2021, you will likely still need to apply for the post-Brexit permanent residency.

“Citizenship is initially effective from the moment the applicant has participated in a citizenship ceremony, if this is a condition [exemption is granted in specific cases, ed.],” the Ministry of Immigration and Integration told The Local via email.

“The law which is expected to be tabled in October 2021 is expected to be passed in December 2021, taking effect around the turn of the year. Since municipalities must conduct citizenship ceremonies one to four months after the law granting the right to citizenship takes effect, the applicant would not be able to take part in a citizenship ceremony before the end of 2021,” the ministry explained.

For applicants not required to take part in the ceremonies, it is currently unclear whether the law will take effect in 2021 or 2022, it added, meaning people in this situation should also apply for post-Brexit status.

As such, British applicants who currently reside in Denmark under the pre-Brexit EU rules for permanent residency must apply for the new document before December 31st.

“If the applicant does not apply for a new residency document according to the (Brexit) withdrawal agreement by the end of 2021, that person risks losing their right to reside in Denmark,” the ministry wrote.

But one group of 2021 citizenship applicants may not need to apply for post-Brexit permanent residency, according to the immigration ministry: those whose applications were already ratified by parliament in June this year.

This group will have already taken part in citizenship ceremonies or have one coming up soon, since these must be held between July and October 2021.

If you have taken part in a citizenship ceremony during this time you will have become a Danish citizen before the deadline for application for post-Brexit permanent residency, namely December 31st.

“However, the ministry generally recommends everyone encompassed by the withdrawal agreement to send their application for residency status to SIRI,” the ministry wrote.

It should be noted that while EU free movement allowed British nationals to live anywhere in the EU, the withdrawal agreement “only gives right in the country in which that person has taken residence and not in other EU member states,” the ministry told The Local.

Additionally, British citizens who moved to Denmark under EU free movement before switching to the new withdrawal agreement residency status will still be eligible for family reunification under EU rules, the ministry also confirmed to The Local. This is provided by the withdrawal agreement and remains valid if that person later becomes a Danish citizen.

“This applies even though the family member does not yet reside in Denmark. However, it is a requirement that the family relation existed before the expiry of the transition period on December 31st, 2020,” the ministry stated.

According to figures provided to The Local by the immigration ministry, the end of the transition period does not appear to have prompted a spike in Brits applying for dual citizenship.

Ministry figures show 527 Brits applied for Danish citizen ship in 2019, followed by 507 in 2020. The data carry a degree of uncertainty because they are based on a registration system, rather than a statistical count.

So far this year (up to September 15th), 290 people with British citizenship have applied for Danish naturalisation, the ministry said.

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BREXIT

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.

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