The Young Europeans Network at the3million is launching a campaign on access to citizenship this Thursday on Zoom, 6 - 7.30 pm. I would like to invite you all to the webinar - you can register here
This is a campaign that is very close to my heart. Last week, I received a (still not sure whether blue or black) British passport. My journey to citizenship ended with mixed feelings.
It was not an easy process. Like about a third of EU citizens who applied for Permanent Residence (PR), my PR application was rejected in 2018. A few months later, I received settled status after applying to stay in my home. Like many of you, I did not feel secure.
After a 12-month wait from the settled status decision letter, my citizenship application journey started. Like many of you, I waited a long time, anxiously checking my email a few times a day for that Home Office response.
About 9 months later, I had my citizenship ceremony and after that, I applied for a British passport. I needed physical proof of my citizenship, just like EU citizens with settled status need physical proof as well (and we will continue to campaign on this!).
Meanwhile, a lot of young people like me cannot apply for British citizenship. Take for example my friend Lara, who is co-chairing the Young Europeans Network meetings at the3million with me. We both went to Cambridge University, we both lived, worked and volunteered in Cambridge for years - yet, she cannot apply because of the unfair Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) requirement.
Other EU citizens cannot afford the application fee, which is £1,330, and all the other costs on top of the fee. The fee is more than a monthly wage for most of my young friends working in the UK.
There are many other barriers as well. Our lives do not neatly fit into tick boxes and this can make the citizenship journey a long-winded rainy mountain road, rather than a nice, straightforward dry path.
Lara, I and everyone else involved in the3million would like to build a new vision for British citizenship. A more positive vision, where citizenship is accessible to those who wish to take this personal choice.
This is why we are launching a campaign on Thursday 29 October starting from 6PM on Zoom. We are in the first stage of the campaign, where we speak about the issues and listen to what people have to say.
I hope you will be joining us and help shape our campaign.
Alexandra, Lara and the3million Young Europeans Network volunteers