Kristine L Ming

The Brits hurrying to become German citizens

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The Brexit debate in the UK is focusing on the rights of EU migrants in the country, among them about 300,000 Germans. Many people are worried about what will happen to them after Brexit. But how are the 100,000 Brits in Germany feeling? The BBC’s Damien McGuinness says many are hurrying to apply for citizenship.

“So, when are you becoming German?” It’s one of those questions that always seems to crop up when I’m chatting to British friends here in Berlin these days. Most are either applying for German citizenship or counting the days until they’ve spent enough time here to be eligible.

That’s because no-one knows what will happen to them once Britain leaves the EU. These are not the bronzed “expats” of the tabloid imagination – living it up in the sun, glass of gin in one hand, golf club in the other. They are young freelancers worried that if they need visas their work will dry up. Or pensioners living in rented flats, surviving on fixed incomes tied to a shrinking pound.

Esme was the most organised of any of us. She made her first appointment with the German authorities the week before the referendum. She took the citizenship test, submitted all the documents, and a few weeks ago became German in a ceremony in her local town hall, in the Berlin district of Neukoelln.

What surprised her was how emotional she felt about it. About 50 people, of 22 different nationalities were being granted German citizenship: Syrians, Americans, Iraqis, Turks, Italians, French – even a few other Brits.

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