Dual nationality for Brits who have resided in Spain for more than 10 years
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Brexit: Giles Tremlett and William Chislett are calling for the Spanish government to grant dual nationality for Brits who have resided in Spain for more than 10 years.
Our petition is simple. As a result of the dramatic situation in which we find ourselves after Brexit, we urge the Spanish government to be generous to the country’s long-standing British community. Many of us could not vote in the Brexit referendum, so the decision has been imposed on us against our will.
Allowing dual nationality for those who have lived a long time in Spain requires a change in Spanish legislation, but it would not be the first time this has happened. In 2015, for example, the government of Mariano Rajoy offered double nationality to Sephardic Jews (the descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492).
Spaniards resident in the UK already enjoy the right to joint nationality (unlike their counterparts in Spain) and Germany is considering making a similar offer to Britons who live there.
Sign this petition to support the British who want to stay and contribute to the development of Spain.
We estimate there are around 25,000 Brits born in Spain or who have lived and worked here for more than 10 years (generally the required number of years for those seeking Spanish citizenship) might take up the offer. From the Spanish point of view, this will also ensure that country retains valuable human capital. We want to be Spaniards, Europeans and British – a reflection of our true identity, one that Brexit will take away from us.
Let us look at a hypothetical example: Mr and Mrs Smith are British and have lived in Spain for 30 years. They came to the country when it joined the European Union in 1986. They liked it and decided to stay and work in one of its biggest cities, in the knowledge that their condition as EU citizens protected them as far as their rights were concerned and made clear what were their obligations. Between them, they have accumulated 60 years paying taxes and contributing to the Social Security system. Their two daughters were born in Spain, went to a state school and are now studying at British universities. When they graduate their daughters want to return to the country where they were brought up and regard as their home.
Brexit has left them confused and frightened. Will the daughters be able to return to the country of their birth and work? Can their parents collect their Spanish pensions if they have to live for a while in the UK? Would they be able to return to Spain? As regards to the age at which they retire, will the years they have paid into the British system count? And if their children want to continue their studies in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, will they pay EU or (costly) non-EU fees? For the Smiths, like thousands of other Brits in Spain and thousands of Spaniards in the UK, the future is uncertain and deeply worrying.
The Smiths are friends of the Sánchez, a Spanish family that has lived a long time in the UK. Brexit creates similar problems for them, but they have found a solution to many of the practical problems and to the erosion of identity generated by the referendum result. They have just requested dual nationality. The Smiths, however, do not have this option under Spanish legislation as they must first renounce their British nationality.
The Smiths and the Sánchez are fictitious, but they reflect the reality of many Spanish and British families who have based their lives on rules of co-existence that are now being torn up.
We support those Spaniards in the UK who can resolve the problems created by Brexit by requesting dual nationality (the son of one senior Spanish cabinet minister is doing this, or so his father tells us) and we urge the British government to treat them decently. We do not trust the British government to represent us in this matter, however, which is why our request is going straight to the Spanish government, via both the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. Nor do we wish to be used as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations.
We believe that the normal filters (knowledge of the Spanish language, the constitution, etc) should also be applied to those who seek dual nationality. We are asking Spaniards in the UK and in Spain to sign this petition, along with the many Brits in Spain whose life plans have been so dramatically shattered.
If our petition prospers, we will gain Spanish nationality too late to don the red shirt of “La Roja” and share soccer pride in two European Cups and a World Cup, but we are sure there will be much to celebrate together in the future.
Thanks so much
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