A student from Ipswich who has lived in the UK since the age of six has been denied British citizenship until five years time – despite having a British mother.
Estelle Dragan has lived most of her life in the UK, but has been unable to acquire UK citizenship. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN
Estelle Dragan, 19, was born in France to a French father and English mother.
When her parents divorced when she was six, her mother returned home to the UK with Estelle and Estelle’s sister Clara, now 17.
After the result of the EU referendum, Estelle began the process of obtaining British citizenship to safeguard against any loss in rights EU nationals would face in post-Brexit Britain.
But in February the University of Birmingham student was stunned to have her permanent residency application denied.
As her mother was born in Tanzania and not in the UK, Estelle’s only route was to apply through naturalisation, but was turned down despite proving her UK residency since the age of six.
The reason given was because she had “not provided evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance cover” according to Home Office correspondence – despite it not being a requirement to live in the UK.
“I didn’t expect to be rejected,” the bilingual English and French student said.
“My case is rare because even though my mum is British she wasn’t born here, but there is no exception for that.”
Despite outlining her situation, Estelle has been told that all she can do is gain the necessary insurance cover to be eligible, and apply again in five years time with records of her residency – a process that will take place three years after Brexit has been completed.
“It’s a complete unknown for everybody at the moment.
“The rules are very stubborn but there is such a broad criteria,” she said.
A petition has been launched highlighting her plight, which she says is to raise awareness for the issue, but has still been left anxious over her future.
Her sister Clara is unlikely to have the same problem as children do not need a permanent residency to apply for British citizenship, prompting Clara to apply for her citizenship now before she turns 18.
Estelle added: “I feel invisible really, it’s weird.
“I am for all EU nationals to have their rights protected, and it’s not a case where I feel am more British than anyone else.
“It just seems really unfair how my future is impacted because of this – I have grown up with my British friends and had the same opportunities but I am being considered ‘unBritish’.”
To view or sign the petition see here.
Original Report filed by Jason Noble, The Ipswich Star