Community members constitute the largest immigrant minority in the UK

About five million EU citizens, including just over 320,000 Spaniards, have applied to register as UK residents days before the June 30 application deadline expires. The registration process, which began in March 2019, exceeded the estimated figures for the community’s population by about one million.

The application system is also open to citizens of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and other countries, when they have any family or social welfare relationships with Europeans. In all, there are more than 5.6 million requests resolved with 52% of the “stable mode” privileges and 43% of the “pre-settlement status”.

According to Catherine Barnard, team leader of the Network of Scientists from the UK in Changing Europe, this week she reported on the process, and it is an “amazing success”. It complies with what was agreed between the UK and the EU in the Withdrawal Agreement, to preserve the rights of the British and the residents of the community.

It offers the settlement for those who lived five consecutive years in the country before January 1, 2021 and the interim settlement for those who have not yet served that time. The success is due to the simplicity of the application using the mobile application. The British government funded an extensive publicity campaign and subsidized associations to reach vulnerable populations.

Diplomatic delegations have joined this effort. The British Embassy in Madrid has held hundreds of meetings with its residents. The person in Spain in London opened the Brexit Single Window to respond via email to residents’ questions; The embassy and consulates have sent a postal mail to those over the age of 70 offering assistance with the application.

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Although the latter phase and the process of legalizing residency raises some unknowns, the situation is less clear than in the early stages of ‘Brexit’, when Theresa May’s government appeared to use the rhetoric of three million residents of the community (estimated number) in its negotiations with Brussels. When the rationing system was designed, the application had a cost.

Radical Brexiteers, such as William Rees-Mogg, protested. “Telling them (community members) that their lives will change because we changed our relationship with the European Union seems unfair to me. We are honored that you came to this country,” he said in January 2019. He resigned.


In the first weeks of starting the measure, a peak in the number of applications was reached, which peaked in September and October 2019, when the ‘Brexit’ policy was most bitter, with uncertainty about an abrupt exit. The number reached its initial momentum level in December, when the dice had already been rolled.

David Casarejos, the representative of Spaniards living in the UK at the General Council of Spanish Citizens Abroad, points to the unknown still in the air that coincides with what the academics have pointed out. In the first place, the lack of a document proving stable status. Those who are accepted receive a digital code provided by the UK Home Office.

The ministry asserts that the code is a permanent guarantee in a state that does not have an identity document, but the question is whether it is a small businessman or the owner of an apartment for rent, both of whom are obligated to confirm the legal resident status of the contracted contract. The party, as an unnecessary complication of having to go online to verify the existence of the digital certificate.

Spanish diplomacy makes clear that there are very diverse cases: vulnerable people, children who are received through social assistance, … if the initial inquiries to the Embassy’s Single Window are initially about pension, tax, health card … special cases, such as those of parents who do not They know they have to apply for their children.

The epidemic forced the closure of senior centers, and imposed restrictions on consulates. Students or staff who have been in Spain due to canceling in-person teaching or recommending work at home are concerned about counting that time. The British Ministry pledges flexibility and pragmatism, assuring those waiting for a decision on their application that their rights are preserved.


This operation coincided with the “Windrush generation scandal”. Dozens of immigrants and children of immigrants were deported in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly from Caribbean nations – whose citizens hold British citizenship as Crown subjects. Hundreds were left without a home or access to public health care or social benefits due to a lack of documentation to prove their circumstances.

Such a dire example encouraged many Spaniards residing in the United Kingdom to seek further guarantees through the acquisition of British citizenship. But there is a well-known and hardly publicized rule that requires that they confirm within three years their desire to keep their original nationality so as not to lose it; And with it the rights of society. At the London Consulate, citizenship confirmation files increased tenfold.

Casarios warns that Spaniards by choice, immigrants who obtained a Spanish passport by residence, and who now live in the UK, may be hit hardest by not knowing the rule. It is believed to be a “horrific moment” to apply to a community of residents suffering from the “Brexit” drifts. I miss too. To renew a Spanish passport, a certificate from the British government is now required that you do not have a British passport

The consulate is looking for a new headquarters. The current building is not adequate for the demand for services in normal times. And in this pressure vessel for staff and visitors, expired passports are urgently renewed (23,000 appointments in four months) in a population that has gone from 177,000 residents registered with consulates to more than 320,000 claimants for settlement.

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