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For the 16 million people who voted remain in the 2016 referendum, the prospect of leaving the EU in the next two years is daunting. At the moment, British citizens are able to live, work and travel anywhere in Europe, but this may all come to an end after the Brexit negotiations come to a close. For those hoping to retain their European citizenship after Brexit, there are a few steps you can take.
If you have any Irish relatives, you might be eligible for an Irish passport, which would mean you would have dual citizenship and would be able to live, work and travel throughout Europe, even after Brexit. Getting an Irish passport and European citizenship is a fairly straightforward process if you have all of the documents to prove that your parents or grandparents are Irish. You can read more about the process in this blog post about getting an Irish passport.
While it might seem like an expensive option, many European countries have a very different approach to higher education. While Britain might focus on getting people out of the country after studying, countries like France encourage students to stick around. You’d need to live in France for 5 years in order to gain French citizenship, but this is shortened to two years if you are studying during this time. And if you’re worried about language problems, many European countries offer courses taught entirely in English.
Although not likely to be an option for everyone, if you have a spare £2 million in your bank account, you can gain Cypriot citizenship through their Naturalisation by Exception programme. You’ll need to purchase 2.5 million euros worth of government bonds, make a similar-sized investment into the economy, or invest in infrastructure.
For the Brits currently in a relationship with an EU citizen, the prospect of leaving the EU is particularly worrisome. Will EU citizens be sent home? Will British citizens be able to join their partners in EU countries? Many European countries have more relaxed laws for spouses, so you may be able to settle in Europe and gain European citizenship in an EU country.
Although not a route for citizenship, if you’re a business owner hoping to relocate you Europe, this could be a money-saving measure. In 2015, Estonia launched it’s “e-residency” programme which allows people from outside of the country to gain a special class of residency and gain a government ID. This means you can set up an Estonian company, and trade freely in Europe.
Many countries in Europe will have a five-year route to citizenship, which means after five years of living in the country and mastering the language, you will be able to apply for citizenship. While it might seem drastic, if living in Europe and gaining European citizenship is your goal, you might be best taking the plunge.