to wonder why they didn't apply for citizenship before?

(126 Posts)
butterfly133 Tue 02-Jun-15 10:07:44

Yesterday I discovered that two colleagues are, in their words "frantically" applying for British citizenship. One of them has been here 35 years - nearly the length of my life! - as an adult (came here to work at 22) and the other has been here 18 years and spent 12 of those married to an English man. They are both from within the EU and in a panic about a possible Brexit. A more nosey colleague asked why they'd never applied before. I was surprised by the answers. 1) Neither of them care about voting 2) both of them had such full confidence in the EU getting ever closer and even Britain adopting the euro, they didn't think it would ever be "necessary".

My parents are not from the UK but they applied for citizenship the minute they were allowed (before I was born). They found the idea of wanting to live permanently in a country - which both of these colleagues wanted as well - and not having official citizenship to be odd and worrying, as well as "why pay taxes and have no vote".

I was also really amazed by the confidence these colleagues showed in the EU. I remember arguments about the EU from when I was a child, so certainly the older one would have known about those debates. Oh - they also said they were shocked how many votes UKIP got - in numerical terms even if only one seat. I was surprised by all of this. I don't think we will see Brexit, but if I were either of these two, I would have applied ages ago. So I was just surprised. Wondered what others thought?

nulgirl Tue 02-Jun-15 10:21:10

My dh (national of another EU country) has been living and working in the UK for 15 years but has never taken citizenship. The main reason is that he didn't need to.

The only thing he can't do is vote in UK elections (he has even done jury duty here) and this has never been a big enough deal to justify the expense and hassle. He likes his links to his home country and there is no driver to change that.

TooMuchRain Tue 02-Jun-15 10:22:18

1. Do you know how much the 'administration fees' are for citizenship?

2. Some countries don't permit dual nationality which makes the decision a very tough one

Tamar86 Tue 02-Jun-15 10:24:40

Maybe because it costs about £1000 to become a UK citizen, and they'd rather not vote, enjoy their rights as EU citizens to freely live anywhere in the EU, and keep the £1000 for a rainy day?

How many people would pay £1000 just to be able to vote? Considering about a third of people don't even vote when they don't have to pay anything at all?

AlpacaMyBags Tue 02-Jun-15 10:25:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lweji Tue 02-Jun-15 10:26:02

The only thing he can't do is vote in UK elections

He can vote in local elections, actually.

HazelShade Tue 02-Jun-15 10:28:41

I'm from a European country, have lived in the UK for 16 years, married to an Englishman. I've never taken citizenship (and not sure if I will with the potential Brexit either - my marriage should give me leave to remain anyway).

There are loads of reasons - mainly, my home country doesn't allow dual nationality, so I would have to give up my first citizenship, and that is a big deal to me. It's to do with my identity I guess?

Also, the idea of becoming British is a big deal -I'd have to take a citizenship test and swear allegiance to the Queen - I'm not sure if I'm ready for that...

Sure, it's annoying not being able to vote, especially since I've paid taxes here for over a decade, but it's not the be all and end all of everything.

There is a lot of emotion and identity tied up with this stuff, it's not just about practicalities! Although if I was allowed dual nationality it might be an easier choice...

TheVeryHungryPreggo Tue 02-Jun-15 10:29:07

Not surprising. I'm an EU citizen and not a British one, but I am Irish so I can vote. I only know one EU citizen who has gone for British citizenship. Reasons:

1) It's really expensive to get British citizenship.

2). We have rights of residence, work permit, freedom of movement within the EU, and not voting in general elections isn't something you notice much as it only comes up every 5 years, but we can still vote in local and mayoral elections.

3) First past the post isn't representational either, so we don't see it as making a huge difference.

4) There aren't many referenda in this country as you don't have a written constitution which requires it so they are mainly held as follow ups to election promises. So like most of the rest of the population, us EU citizens didn't care much for the Alternative Voting proposal either.

5) Britain is unusually eurosceptic for all that it is one of the lynchpin countries. The rest of us have much more faith in the EU than you do, we have done well enough with the euro and EU funding for infrastructure has benefited a lot of smaller countries. It's been the rising tide which lifts all boats for most of us. Britain has itself done well out of Europe but that's not popular to report on, with your media preferring to bash it for "banning bent bananas" and forcing terrorists to live here because of "PC gorn mad" human rights, "elf n safety" etc etc etc. EU citizens from other nations tend to take your national grumbling about it with a pinch of salt, because actually leaving the EU would be catastrophic for Britain and until now it's never been on the table because your political leaders know this. We didn't believe it would come to this.

lovesmycake Tue 02-Jun-15 10:30:18

I am on the other side of the issue as a british expat living in Norway. I would be reluctant to apply for citizenship because 1) I don't need to to access everything I need here. 2) I am not a Norwegian I am a Brit it would feel like I was trying to be something I'm not. 3) Norway doesn't allow dual citizenship.

I have no issue with my children choosing to be Norwegian nationality when they can (I think it's about 15 yrs old) but they were born here so it feels like a different situation.

ApeMan Tue 02-Jun-15 10:30:59

"How many people would pay £1000 just to be able to vote"

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, quite a lot of people have given quite a lot more than that for it. It is a big deal to some people.

Lweji Tue 02-Jun-15 10:34:08

It is a big deal if your rights are much more limited than EU citizens.

I lived for 15 years in the UK with no citizenship. I only mildly regret not having applied for citizenship for DS, but it's something he can do later and for his own reasons.

Summerisle1 Tue 02-Jun-15 10:37:55

YABU for the abomination that is 'Brexit'!

Mamus Tue 02-Jun-15 10:38:22

My husband has been here 14 years. He's happy to be here, to work and pay his taxes and raise his family, and he does not intend to leave. But he is not British and does not wish to be, so why on earth would he apply for citizenship?

Pippidoeswhatshewants Tue 02-Jun-15 10:39:52

Another very happy European citizen living in the UK here!
Dh is British and although it rankles a bit not to be able to vote in the general election, I have absolutely no plans to become a British citizen. I am not British, and, no matter how much I love the UK or how long I live here, I don't think I will ever be. I always thought that in a EU with free movement that was ok.
EU scepticism is one of the British quirks I just fail to understand...
flame suit is on

SomethingFunny Tue 02-Jun-15 10:43:09

Is Brexit a new word? shock

Tamar86 Tue 02-Jun-15 10:43:41

It's more a big deal when big sectors of society are left without a voice.

It's very important to me on a population-level that people have the right to vote.

It's less important to me on a personal level, and this thread shows I'm not alone - if as an individual I enjoy all the other benefits (and responsibilities) of citizenship, would I pay £1000 just to ensure that I, personally, could vote? No.

Kundry Tue 02-Jun-15 10:49:53

My mum has been here for 50 years. On the rare occasions she's had the money, something else has always been more important to spend it on like a leaking roof or faulty car. Plus she doesn't really want to be a British citizen, she might go for dual citizenship but her home country doesnt allow it - even though she doesn't have a passport from them anymore and hasn't been there for at least 20 years.

She's worked, paid taxes and was able to vote until she retired. And given she lives in a very safe seat for one party and wouldn't vote for them, £1000 plus just to vote for someone who won't be elected doesn't seem a great bargain.

BarbarianMum Tue 02-Jun-15 10:54:15

ApeMan I'm sure if people werre expected to gen up £1000 at 18 in order to buy the right to vote the electoral register would be a lot emptier.

My parents have lived in the UK for over 40 years and its most definately home to them. They've never taken British citizenship as it would mean loosing the citizenship of their birth country. They've never felt secure enough to do that, people like the BNP and now UKIP make them feel like they need a fallback position.

LakeOfDreams Tue 02-Jun-15 10:55:15

The country my husband is from do not allow dual nationality so if he wanted to become a British citizen he would have to give up a huge part of his identity. He would do it if his country of birth allowed dual citizenship as his 'home' passport means he has to have an expensive visa to travel anywhere outside of Africa or the UK.

BarbarianMum Tue 02-Jun-15 10:56:16

<<It's more a big deal when big sectors of society are left without a voice.>>

But voting doesn't always give you a voice. The constituency where my parents live has been Tory since democracy was invented. They wouldn't vote Tory anyway, so again a lot of money just to waste a vote.

kapai Tue 02-Jun-15 10:56:58

We live overseas and many of our fellow immigrants have not take citizenship. Most have permanent residence in NZ which at the moment gives similar rights. We've been able to vote for a long time although I can't remember if we had it on our initial work permits.

By the time you have paid for enough visa's to get citizenship (5 years after getting PR) you are pretty fed up of paying huge sums of money and filling out forms.

For example, in NZ you need a police certificate from every country you have lived in over the age of 17. So for some people this can be 6 or 7 countries. It is hard to get a certificate from a country while living in another- the applications sometimes have to travel by diplomatic bag and have no time scale. Some need a witness in that country that knows you to sign it. Ours took 4-8 weeks. Sometimes you actually have to go to the country to get the certificate.

All the certificates have a limited lifetime which I think might be 6 months. You also need a medical for some visa's. These have a time scale of 3 months IIRC.

Now try and coordinate getting all those certificates at the same time. If one is late, start again.

GeorgeYeatsAutomaticWriter Tue 02-Jun-15 10:57:02

Some people don't want to change their nationality/citizenship, even if they spend most of their adult life living in another country. I don't think I ever would.

I was surprised to find, when talking to friends, that some EU countries don't allow dual nationality. We tend to take it for granted in the UK.

BitOutOfPractice Tue 02-Jun-15 11:01:33

Are you a bit less amazed now OP?

Plus, I wuld imagine, it's something that you might think about doing in a vague sense but not ever get round to because, well, it's not urgent / having a big impact on your life day-to-day

HeyDuggee Tue 02-Jun-15 11:06:18

I think it's because it's not exactly a warm, welcoming melting pot like the US, where there is an "anyone can become an American" and many citizens have non-american accents.

How often do you meet someone in the UK with a thick foreign accent and you automatically assume he/she is a British citizen?

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