Brexit: Record number of Brits become German citizens
A record number of Britons became German citizens last year after Britain voted to quit the European Union, Germanys federal statistics office said.
It said 2,865 Britons took German citizenship in 2016 — a 365 percent increase. "The link to Brexit seems clear", said Ostatistics. It added that never before had so many Britons become Germans. "This is the highest ever level of registered British citizens."
If and when Britain leaves the EU as well as its single market, British citizens are likely to lose their right to live and work across the 27-nation regional body.
The number is expected to be considerably greater next year as most Britons applying for a German passport did so only after the referendum and most applications take from six months to a year to process, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.
On average, only 1.6 percent of all applications for German citizenship that are granted come from EU countries.
A total of 110,400 foreigners took up German citizenship last year, a 2.9 per cent rise over the previous year. The largest group came from Turkey with 16,290. The second largest national group, Poles, recorded an increase of 11.3 percent to reach 6,632.
Women accounted for a higher share of naturalization than men at 53.9 percent.
Anyone who has lived in Germany for eight years or has been married to a German for six, is eligible for citizenship. Applicants have to take a general knowledge and language test to prove they are competent German speakers, as well as paying a €250 fee.
Also eligible are those who can prove they, their parents, grandparents or great grandparents were expelled from Germany or murdered by the Nazis during the second world war. They are not obliged to take the tests.
Britons can maintain their dual citizenship indefinitely, as long as they are granted German citizenship while Britain is still a member of the EU.
Concern – which was already rife among Britons living and working in EU countries about the effect on their lives if Britain were to leave the single market and reject freedom of movement – has been compounded by last week's UK general election result.
Now that Theresa May has lost her overall majority in parliament, there is even more confusion about what kind of Brexit deal might be reached.
A Destatis spokesperson added: "The link to Brexit seems clear. "This is the highest ever level of registered British citizens."Other EU countries including Ireland, Sweden, Italy and Denmark have reported similar spikes in applications from Britons.
Applicants say their main motivation has been to secure proper status in the EU, including harnessing the advantages of membership of the bloc, before Brexit. There are about 100,000 Britons living in Germany.
It comes after UK applications for Irish passports surged by 70% in 2017 as Britons applied to retain EU citizenship in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Applications for Irish citizenship through grandparents also increased "quite dramatically", Ireland's ambassador to the UK said. People born in Northern Ireland or those with an Irish parent already have an automatic right to Irish citizenship.
In certain circumstances an Irish grandparent is enough to secure British citizens an Irish passport.