A survey conducted with over 500 British residents in Spain shows the uncertainty and suffering of people who have applied for Spanish nationality in order to protect their rights.
- 73% of respondents who have applied for Spanish nationality did so to protect their rights as European and Spanish citizens. Half of them expressed their desire to continue working and/or studying in Spain or other EU countries, while 20% are looking for a general safeguard of their rights. Brexit – with or without an agreement – takes away freedom of movement for British citizens in the EU27.
- Some British people had thought of applying for Spanish nationality before Brexit, which has been a major factor in encouraging them to do so and a source of considerable concern for the vast majority of respondents.
- Nationality that is granted for the length of time the person has lived in Spain (without a break) establishes the minimum as 10 years, compared to 5 years in the UK.
- The Spanish administration does not recognise dual nationality, which Spanish residents in the UK can enjoy. 32% of British respondents to the survey admitted that they have not yet applied for Spanish nationality because they want dual nationality and do not want to lose their British citizenship. This is causing them an unnecessary crisis of identity.
- The application process is slow: candidates have to take two exams (on the Spanish language and general and constitutional knowledge of Spain) and complete administrative procedures in both countries, which means that it takes approximately 9 months to get the required documentation ready before making the official application.
- British applications for Spanish nationality have increased sharply in the last year, as Brexit - and the possibility of no-deal - has drawn closer; 40% of applications have been made since January 2019.
- Approvals appear to be random and have no relation to the date of application. Some recent applications have already been approved, while others still have had no reply: 77% of applications still have no news.
even young British people born in Spain (about 12,000) are trapped by the bureaucracy. Camilla Hillier-Fry, Vicepresident of EuroCitizens, gives the example of her own daughter: “my daughter was born in Spain, has been educated here and has applied for Spanish nationality. When the Brexit referendum took place, she was just about to start university in Spain, and this year she will complete her degree. She wants to do a Master’s degree in northern Europe, but has not yet been granted Spanish nationality. When she applies for the Masters course, she may have fewer chances because she is not a European citizen and if she stays out of Spain for longer than a year, she could lose her status of long-term resident. She may have to choose between her future and the country where she has made her home; it is both absurd and unjust.”