Applications for Maltese citizenship filed every year by British nationals have almost doubled in number since the 2016 Brexit vote.
A total of 619 applications for citizenship by naturalisation were received last year, compared to 382 in 2016, government data shows. The upward trend continued this year, with 704 UK nationals applying to become Maltese citizens in the first 10 months.
Such citizenship applications were distinct from those filed under the Individual Investors’ Programme (IIP) and neither were they for residence permits or visas, a spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister said.
Applicants qualified for such citizenship either through a familial connection or after having resided in Malta for several years, he added.
The Brexit effect on citizenship applications is evident when pre-2016 figures are considered. Applications for citizenship from UK nationals numbered 203 in 2013, dropping to 152 in 2014 and rising to 199 the following year.
704 UK nationals applied to become Maltese citizens in the first 10 months
A total of 1,715 applications from UK nationals were approved since 2013, the spokesman said.
In the June 23, 2016 referendum, the British voted to withdraw from the European Union.
Months later, the UK government began the formal process to exit the EU. As a result, British citizens risk losing the right to free movement across EU member states, apart from a raft of social rights they are entitled to as EU members.
Negotiations took a dramatic turn on Thursday when Brexit secretary Dominic Raab resigned in protest at Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed deal. More resignations followed.
Last September, practically all EU leaders, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, had called for a second referendum on Brexit but Ms May ruled out the possibility.
Malta was not the only EU member state to witness an increase in citizenship applications following the Brexit vote.
According to the Independent of London, Eurostat figures show that 6,555 British nationals acquired citizenship of another EU member state in 2016, up from 2,478 the previous year.
Germany was the Britons’ preferred choice, attracting 2,702 UK nationals. France and Belgium followed with 517 and 506 citizens each, the Independent reported.
A spokesman for the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign had dubbed the flurry of applications “a Brexodus”.
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