The United Kingdom has surpassed France and Switzerland in the number of Portuguese immigrants who acquired the nationality in 2021, according to the Portuguese Emigration Observatory (PEM).

Citing date from the UK's Home Office, the research body said that in 2021, 2,561 Portuguese citizens opted for British nationality, 

This was drawn from a total of 159,969 acquisitions of nationality by foreigners, with the Portuguese representing 1.6% of that total. 

EU nationals accounted for almost a third (32%) of all UK nationality applications in 2021 compared to 12% in 2016.

Since 2016, the year in which Brexit was voted, the number of Portuguese choosing British nationality has almost doubled, from 672 in 2016 to 1,234 in 2017. 

Although there are several quarterly fluctuations in 2018 and 2019, the total Portuguese acquisitions in these years were the highest figures recorded since 2000 in the UK.  

In 2020, with the Brexit process already completed and Covid-19 having an impact on administrative processes, there was a large decrease (even more marked in the total of acquisitions). 

In 2021, with a greater normalisation of the pandemic situation, the number of acquisitions of nationality by the Portuguese increases again, reaching the maximum value since the series under analysis. 

The PEM researcher further said: "This growth seems to be explained, above all, by the fears induced by Brexit and the reduction of rights associated with the status of foreigner that may result from it. 

"The increase in the number of acquisitions of British nationality catapulted the United Kingdom into first place, replacing France and Switzerland, with regard to the acquisition of the nationality of the country of destination."

The application for British nationality can be made after a minimum period of residence of five years in the UK and 12 months as a permanent resident, in the case of European citizens.

For the process, the candidate needs to prove knowledge of the English language, pass a test on British life and culture, present a criminal record without serious offence, and pay a fee of 1,330 pounds (1,500 euros).

According to the European Union Citizens Registration System in the United Kingdom, 252,400 Portuguese have a permanent residence permit (settled status) and 164,640 a provisional title (pre-settled status).