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Petition online for government to allow joint UK-Spanish nationality to Brits following Brexit
A PETITION on Change.org is calling for the Spanish government to allow dual nationality to Brits living in Spain after 10 years of residence.
Set up by Giles Tremlett and William Chislett, the petition - which gathered over 3,000 signatures in its first two days - points out that a 'Brexit' could leave British nationals living in Spain in legal limbo, which may lead to many deciding they had no choice but to become Spanish.
Although Spain allows dual nationality to anyone from its former colonies including the Latin American countries, the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea, as well as natives of Portugal and Andorra, citizens from anywhere else in the world have to renounce their nationality of birth in order to obtain a Spanish passport.
Britain, by contrast, allows Spaniards living there to become dual UK and Spanish citizens after five years.
To obtain Spanish nationality, applicants - except those from the aforementioned countries, who only have to wait two years, or anyone married to a Spaniard for at least a year - need to have lived in Spain for 10 years and take a 'cultural test', which covers brief outlines of the political structure, famous people, basic geography and day-to-day law.
Where the applicant's native language is not Spanish, they are required to take a test, but the level is lower than many expats imagined - on the European scale which ranges from A1, or elementary, to C2, which is completely bilingual, the citizenship language test is set at A2, or a good GCSE standard.
This means anyone with an AS-level in Spanish (B1), an A-level or first-year degree level (B2) or a degree (C1) in Spanish, or can speak, write and understand it to these standards, will sail through.
The petition cites two typical families: the Smiths have been living in Spain for 30 years, since Spain joined the EU, and have paid taxes in the country all that time, and their daughters were born there, went to State-run schools in Spain and have now gone to university in the UK, but with the intention of returning to their home country to live and work; and the Sánchez, good friends of the Smiths, who have lived in the UK for many years but will be able to resolve their 'Brexit issues' easily with joint nationality.
It asks whether the Smiths would be allowed to still earn their pensions if they had to spend a while living in the UK, and whether they would be allowed back into Spain to live, as well as whether their years of 'paying into the system' in Britain would count towards their Spanish State pension.
Also, it asks whether their daughters, who hold British passports, would be allowed to return to Spain, their home, and work.
These problems reflect many mentioned by petition-signers: If a British national resident in Spain had to go to the UK for a couple of years to care for an elderly parent, with the intention of returning to Spain; where children born in Spain to Brits live and work in both countries; whether, if the children moved to the UK when they left home, they would be able to return to live nearer to their parents several years down the line, and many other scenarios which are exclusive to expatriates from outside the EU who started their families in their adopted country.
According to the petition writers, the law on joint nationality could easily be changed, since a new ruling last year by Mariano Rajoy's government means that anyone, anywhere in the world, who can trace their direct ancestry back to the Sephardic Jews deported from Spain during the Inquisition in 1492, is automatically entitled to joint Spanish citizenship.
"At least 25,000 Brits born in Spain or who have lived here for 10 years or more would be able to take up an offer of dual nationality," says the petition – although, in practice, given that the language requirements are not unduly high, the number could be considerably greater.
"We want to be Spanish, European - and also British.
"We believe the same filters should apply - language knowledge and swearing allegiance to the Constitution, and so on - but Spaniards in the UK already enjoy this right and Germany is considering doing the same for British residents there.
"In fact, the son of a Spanish minister, who lives in the UK, has just applied for joint British citizenship."
The petition concludes with a note likely to speak volumes to the government in Spain it is hoping to convince: "We've come into this too late to dress up in red and share our pride in Spain's footballers for its two UEFA Euro cups and its World Cup, but we're sure there'll be many other things we can celebrate together in the future."
It can be found by going to Change.org
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