I was refused British citizenship, despite having a British mother

I’ve lived here most of my life

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French-born Estelle Dragan has lived in the UK since she was six, but has been denied UK citizenship. Although the 19-year-old Birmingham student was born in France and has a French father, her mother is still British and returned home to the UK with Estelle and her 17-year-old sister Clara, due to a divorce.

After the result of the EU referendum, Estelle decided to obtain a British citizenship to protect against loss in rights EU nationals would encounter in Britain, post-Brexit. However, Estelle was shocked to have her permanent residency application denied in February.

As her mother was born in Tanzania and not in the UK, Estelle applied for citizenship through naturalisation. The reason her citizenship was rejected was due to the fact that she had “not provided evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance cover” according to Home Office correspondence, even though this is not a requirement to live in the UK.

All Estelle can do now is apply again in five year’s time with records of her residency. This process can only take place three years after Brexit has been completed.

A petition has been initiated in order to raise awareness for the issue.

The Tab spoke to Estelle about her situation:

How do you feel about being denied British citizenship?

I think the situation is beyond belief. I would have never thought that being denied my residency permit would even be a possibility. I feel invisible, dismissed and completely unrepresented. My personal circumstance isn’t even considered as an anomaly, the home office just throw labels around and there’s no looking beyond this.

What effect does this have on your future? Has anything changed because of it?

The future is unknown at the moment – nothing has changed as of yet but I’m worried that my last year at university will be impacted in terms of maintenance loan and tuition fees. I’m just praying that the status of EU nationals will remain the same.

What steps are you taking now to gain British citizenship?

I have to wait another 5 years to then apply again with the required comprehensive health insurance.

What do you think of those people who still claim that this is not a result of Brexit?

I don’t think being denied is a result of Brexit – these were laws implemented beforehand. The aftermath will however be more intense due to Brexit as our rights are unknown right now because of it.

What do you think UoB should do/has the right to do to protect its students?

I think it should ensure that funding won’t be an issue in order to remain at the university – for example if the government stop supporting EU nationals’ (who are residents in the UK) maintenance fees then I may not be able to afford to stay

How do you think fellow students can raise more awareness? Can student protests have an impact?

Circulation is key – obviously starting a petition and making a bit of noise won’t be enough to pressure the Home Office to make any changes on one particular case. However my goal is to unite people with unusual circumstances like mine in order to get the Home Office’s attention. I think student protests are pressurising, media attention would be key too.