Dutch nationals who have lost their nationality after Brexit may be able to restore it, under a back-up plan being passed through Dutch law.
Although originally the government had pledged to reassess the Dutch ban on having dual nationality in most circumstances, in the end the two houses of parliament have only progressed with legislation to protect Dutch citizens in the UK.
For people resident in the UK on the day of the Brexit referendum, it would give them the possibility to avoid losing their Dutch nationality when they become a naturalised British citizen, without needing to prove any kind of hardship. The ruling can be triggered into validity by the Dutch government if it is judged necessary.
Immigration lawyer Jeremy Bierbach told DutchNews.nl that the law was originally drawn up when the government believed there was a high chance of Britain crashing out of the EU without any kind of deal and was intended to ‘ringfence’ their rights as EU citizens.
However, he said, the government coalition backed away from granting Brits in the Netherlands the same rights. ‘This was seen as the only way the Dutch government could guarantee Dutch citizens’ rights in the UK as a lot of Dutch people will naturalise as UK citizens but won’t lose their final right to Dutch citizenship,’ he said.
‘It was originally intended to go both ways, but people wanted the law to be consistent and without exceptions to the general ruling restricting dual nationality.’
However, Bierbach – author of the chapter on Dutch nationality in the recent Quality of Nationality Index – suggested that there could be a similar back-up for UK citizens under their own country’s laws which mean if they are ‘forced’ to give up their nationality to become Dutch, they have a one-time chance to get it back.
Although he believes this route has not yet been used, an Australian client of his was able to become Dutch, and then take up Australian nationality again with the permission of the Dutch, in a similar legal situation. The process could work if a former Briton who had renounced a British passport to become Dutch could prove they had spent five years in the UK as a child or were married to a Brit.
‘With the resumption process, you only become a British citizen as of that moment in time, the same as naturalisation, and Dutch national law says if you are a Dutch citizen, that is not okay except if you are married [to a Brit] or it happens to be the country where you spend five years with your main residence as a minor,’ he said.
‘Maybe someone felt sorry for British emigrés forced to renounce their British nationality: it is a one-time chance to get it back.’