Getting to Grips with UK Citizenship Law

The UK government has tried hard to reassure EU citizens living in the UK – and Britons abroad – that they will be protected from deportation after Brexit.

But many people do not fit neatly into either category, throwing up complex and unexpected dilemmas for both the Home Office and the individuals concerned.

Some, such as Ursula Crosby, who contacted the BBC with her story, have been unable to get a clear answer about how to secure residency rights, and citizenship, when Britain leaves the EU, in March 2019.

Ms Crosby retired to Portugal five years ago after 40 years of working as a physiotherapist in NHS hospitals, in London and Shrewsbury. She says she felt like spreading her wings and “doing something a bit different” while she could.

She is a German citizen but under free movement rules she had the security of knowing she could return to the UK, where her daughter lives and where she still owns property, when she wanted to.

Brexit has changed that. The UK has told EU citizens they will be able to apply for “settled status” if they have been living in the UK for five years or have been granted indefinite leave to remain.

It is unclear how this will apply to Ms Crosby, who was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 1979.

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