Virginia, US
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| Fragomen

My Immigration Story - Dual Citizenship

As you can probably tell, my name doesn’t have as much of an African ring to it as you would expect, and indeed that is the case. I was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to a Namibian mother and an Italian father. Whilst possessing South African citizenship themselves, my parents made a conscious decision to ensure I was also able to obtain and be recognised as an Italian citizen from birth. This foresight of theirs was life changing for me later on.

For many South African families, the opportunity of sending their children to study, work and/or live overseas after matriculating or tertiary education is widely encouraged and pursued. This was something my parents actively supported and encouraged throughout my formative years.

After I graduated from tertiary education, the reality of my second citizenship in terms of accessibility to work and live overseas became quite apparent and attainable. Having Italian citizenship, this allowed me access and the opportunity to live and work in Europe as an EU national and this included the UK.

The destination I chose was London, and I decided to make the move with the intention of making the United Kingdom my permanent home. Becoming the holder of an EU country passport presented many opportunities and privileges to travel freely within Europe as compared to South African nationals who need visas for most countries. More importantly, the biggest benefit came in terms of the ability to work in the UK without needing to apply for work authorisation simply by virtue of being an Italian passport holder.

I never took this ability to work and live in the UK for granted and it allowed me to make the most of the opportunities available. After several years my needs and outlook on life changed and I decided to make the move back to South Africa. I knew that if I ever wanted to return to Europe again, I would still have access owing to the privileges of my dual citizenship. However, with the introduction of Brexit this reality seems to be a bit more uncertain.

If I had remained in the UK as an EU passport holder, what would the future hold for me and other EU nationals as of today? Are holders of EU passports from South Africa and based in the UK now faced with the prospect of relocating back to South Africa or elsewhere in Europe in order to retain such privileges of free movement pre-Brexit?

If I had remained in the UK, I, like many other EU passport holders, would probably have to seek professional immigration advice and guidance regarding what the next steps would be in relation to the Brexit movement.

Having observed the state of uncertainty within the UK and Europe regarding Brexit and the anticipated changes, I feel relieved that I returned back to South Africa when I did. With the introduction of Brexit, the landscape of business and the movement of people will be forever changed. Nobody knows what the ultimate outcome will be for many of those impacted and their fate still hangs in the balance.

EU nationals may be faced with tougher realities in terms of movement and reduced opportunities to work once the policies and legalities of Brexit are invoked and enforced. It’s an uncertain time and the ramifications from an immigration perspective are complicated and debatable at all levels.

I’m still proud to be a holder of an Italian passport and the opportunities it may present me elsewhere.  For those South African nationals who possess an EU passport and are faced with the reality of Brexit, consider the following:

  • Seek professional and reliable advice from a reputable immigration provider under the circumstances
  • Evaluate the pro’s and con’s from an immigration perspective as well as your personal circumstances
  • Consider all options to determine the best way forward in terms of immigration requirements and outcomes
  • Be well informed and educate yourself regarding immigration regulations and anticipated changes to tax laws etc. in order to determine the most compliant and best case scenario based on your needs and requirements


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