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The Countries Brits Want to Move to the Most in the Wake of the Brexit Vote

New Zealand's media is worrying about a "British invasion" after 10,000 Brits registered interest in moving there, so we looked at which other countries have seen spikes in visa enquiries since the 24th of June.

by Yasmin Jeffery
22 August 2016, 1:31pm

Photo: Chris Bethell

(Photo: Chris Bethell)

Turns out Ireland isn't the only country being inundated with passport applications as Brits make preparations to escape the country falling June's Leave vote. New statistics have revealed the number of people in Britain registering an interest in moving to New Zealand has increased ten-fold since the referendum, prompting Kiwi media to complain of a potential "British invasion".

In the 59 days since the result was announced, 10,647 of us have contacted immigration in New Zealand, with a total of 109 Brits registering the day before the vote, and 998 submitting requests on the day itself. This figure is over two times the number of people who registered at the same time last year, which was recorded at 4,599. A spokesperson for the immigration office said it usually receives around 3,000 registrations a month from British nationals looking to study, work or invest in New Zealand – but stressed the figures relate to registrations of interest as opposed to outright visa applications.

Depending on how things go with the US presidential election this year, the country could see similar levels of interest from Americans. In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Massey University sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley said he hasn't been surprised by the spike in interest: "I anticipate that post-Brexit, and if Trump wins in America, you're going to see a spike in interest from people there about coming to New Zealand," he said. "We saw it during the Bush years from Americans, and I think over the next three to five years you're going to see a significant increase in the numbers of migrants coming from both Britain and the USA."

Luckily, the nation doesn't seem to be bearing the brunt of a second "invasion" alone; European embassies in Britain have been inundated with passport requests as worried Brits rush to ensure their access to the European Union remains intact. In the two months since UK voters opted to leave the EU, 16 embassies and high commissions in London reported increases in either applications for passports or enquiries about residency.

Just days after the UK voted Leave, Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan urged those eligible for Irish passports to stop rushing to get their hands on them, claiming the surge in applications was placing "significant pressure on the system and turnaround times". Ireland received over 4,000 passport enquiries after the referendum, compared with its usual average of 200 for that time of year.

Austria experienced nearly twice the amount of applications in July when compared to the same month in 2016. Meanwhile, applications for Swedish citizenship increased sevenfold around the time of the vote. The Polish embassy, which normally receives around 100 applications a year, received 111 in the first half of 2016 alone. Since the result, it has received nearly 600 enquiries, a figure it said "usually corresponded with the number of formal applications". The Dutch embassy also received a significantly higher amount of enquiries, at 10 times the usual number in the first month after the vote.

The Finnish embassy in London saw around 100 more passport applications than previous summers, and the German embassy was forced to inform applicants they would have to wait longer to get requests seen to because of "largely increased" volumes. Similarly, the Portuguese embassy said it had experienced a sustained rise in enquiries regarding nationality, while Czech, Croatian and Greek officials also confirmed they had experienced higher volumes of interest, as did officials from Slovenia, Slovakia and Latvia's embassies.

Up from less than 10 requests in the first half of the year, the Hungarian consulate estimated it was on the receiving end of 220 citizenship enquiries since the referendum, while Estonia experienced a "notable" rise in applications from an average of one or two a month, to 34 since the 23rd of June. Likewise, Bulgaria revealed it has been contacted by 30 Britons interested in acquiring citizenship, up from no interest at all – which should give some kind of indication as to just how eager many Remain voters are to continue living life as EU citizens.


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British Invasion
Yasmin Jeffery