According to the Emigration Observatory, in 2021, 2,561 Portuguese acquired British nationality, the majority by right as permanent residents or registered minors, 25 percent more than the 2,042 registered in 2020.

According to statistics from the British Home Office, the number had already skyrocketed to 2,227 in 2019, but the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on public services also affected this process, reducing the number of administrative acts.

In the first three quarters of 2022, 2,066 Portuguese had already acquired British nationality.

In 2015, the year before the referendum that dictated the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU), only 422 Portuguese acquired British nationality, a figure that has been rising rapidly since then (672 in 2016, 1,234 in 2017, 1,906 in 2018, 2,227 in 2019).

"This increase seems to be explained, above all, by the fears induced by Brexit and the reduction of rights associated with the status of being a foreigner that could result from it", said the researcher at the Observatório da Emigração, Inês Vidigal.

Brexit effect

The UK Home Office confirmed that EU nationals accounted for almost a third (32 percent) of all UK nationality applications in 2021 compared to 12 percent in 2016.

The application for British nationality can be made after a minimum period of residence of five years in the United Kingdom and 12 months as a permanent resident, in the case of European citizens.

For the process, the candidate needs to prove knowledge of the English language, pass a test on British life and culture, present a criminal record without serious offenses and pay a fee of 1,330 pounds (1,500 euros).

According to the European Union Citizens Registration System in the United Kingdom [EU Settlement Scheme, EUSS], 252,400 Portuguese have a permanent residence permit [settled status] and 164,640 a provisional title [pre-settled status].