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How to Keep Your EU Citizenship After Brexit
Brexit has had serious impacts on those who were British nationals and chose to live and work in the European Union. UK citizens who wish to regain their freedom of movement within the EU and the right to work, study, or live in Italy or other European countries may still have options to keep or regain their EU citizenship.
What are your options to keep your EU citizenship after Brexit, and which is the most effective path for UK citizens and others to establish residency or EU citizenship?
Invest in a “Golden Visa”
Many countries in the EU allow those who want to become citizens the opportunity to do so by investment. Promoting the regional economy with a large financial investment can get you primary or dual citizenship in Italy and other EU nations.
You must be a legal adult with a clean criminal record and in good health to be eligible to apply. The amount of money you will need to have is quite substantial, and you must show it was obtained by legal means. For Italian citizenship, it will need to be at least one of the following:
- Half a million euros invested in an innovative start-up company
- One million euros invested in an existing Italian company that meets specific criteria
- One million euros invested in a project that has a positive effect on the Italian economy
- Two million euros invested in bonds approved and issued by the Italian government
Establish Residency in an EU Nation
If you have lived in Italy or another EU nation long enough to meet immigration residency requirements, you may be able to apply for citizenship after Brexit. During the transition period following Brexit, you could have applied for Italian citizenship as an EU citizen after living in Italy for five years.
Since that transition deadline expired on December 31, 2020, British citizens would have to meet the requirements for a non-EU citizen, which means you will need to have been a legal resident of Italy for at least 10 years to apply for citizenship, unless you qualify by other means.
If you want to keep living in Italy without becoming a citizen, you will need a residence permit and valid passport and can only remain in Italy for 90 days as a tourist or visitor.
Maintain Citizenship in an EEA Nation
If you have citizenship established in one of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries or are eligible to apply, you can maintain your rights to travel freely in EU countries after Brexit. The EEA countries include Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. Although these states are not technically part of the European Union itself, they have separate agreements to maintain unrestricted travel and trade with the EU.
Marry an EU Citizen
Maybe during all that unrestricted travel you met and married a citizen of another EU nation or have considered formalizing your romantic relationship. In Italy, you would qualify for a long-term stay permit as long as you live with your citizen spouse. Since 2016 Italy recognizes same sex unions and marriages.
It takes about two years or less to become an Italian citizen by marriage when you both have a permanent residence in Italy. If you live outside the country, you must be married for three years and meet some basic requirements. If you and your partner have minor children, these wait times can be cut in half.
Become a Dual Citizen of an EU Country
If you want to continue to live in the UK, the United States, or outside the EU, it is possible you might qualify to become a dual citizen. Italy allows dual citizenship for non-EU residents. Dual citizens live anywhere in the world and maintain their EU passport and full benefits of citizenship including low cost or free education and healthcare for themselves and their children.
You may qualify to become a dual Italian citizen if you have Italian ancestors in your family tree. Taking this route to EU citizenship is much less expensive than investment and a great choice for those who are not intending to marry an EU passport holder. Italy allows for citizenship by blood (jure sanguinis) and by marriage (jure matrimonii).
Brexit deadlines and transition periods do not apply to your application for Italian citizenship based on your Italian ancestry or your ancestor’s marriage to an Italian citizen. You will need to apply through an Italian consulate and supply all the required documentation to establish your claim, but this path is often the most cost-effective way to keep EU citizenship after Brexit.
Exploring Your Opportunities for EU Citizenship
The Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program can help you determine if you qualify for dual Italian citizenship and put together the required documents for a successful application. If you think you might be eligible for this fast track to EU citizenship, contact us today or take our quick online quiz to find out more.
The benefits of EU citizenship are broad and empowering. When you go through the process of establishing Italian citizenship for yourself, you pass this right on to your children and establish eligibility for your siblings and possible citizenship by marriage for your partner. Brexit has shown us that maintaining citizenship in more than one country can provide security and opportunity in a rapidly changing world.