Emma (not her real name) told Sky News that she has a British birth certificate, has lived all her life in the United Kingdom and always thought she was a citizen of that country - but, it appears that this is not the case.

The United Kingdom has had the EUSS (European Union Settlement Scheme) in force since 2019, the immigration regime in force for citizens of the European Union (EU). This means that after Brexit, all EU citizens living in the UK had to apply for permanent resident status.

However, it was only last year that Emma realised that she was not officially a British citizen and that she had already missed the deadline to submit this request, after applying for a job and needing to demonstrate her right to work. The surprise came when she saw her application for a British passport being rejected.

Unlike Emma, her mother successfully applied for permanent resident status.


The young woman, explained to Sky News, that she could not appeal the decision of the British Home Office and risks being deported to Portugal, where she has never lived.

"When I got the rejection letter, I was basically told how to leave the country," she said, adding that she was "shocked."

"There is a high probability that I will be deported to Portugal and separated from my family", she noted, admitting that "I would have to start a completely new life".

Emma has been told that she can resubmit her application with additional evidence to demonstrate that she has reasonable grounds for submitting her application late. Emma is doing this, but in the meantime she cannot work, open a bank account, rent an apartment or receive secondary care from the National Health Service (NHS).

The data shows, however, that requests submitted after the deadline now have more stringent criteria, with 13,930 requests having been considered invalid in September last year alone (between July 2022 and June 2023 the average was 1,730 requests rejected per month).

According to the Portugal website in the United Kingdom, "children born in the country after 1 January 1983 do not automatically acquire British nationality", having already recorded "the existence of several cases of children of Portuguese citizens who were born in the United Kingdom but who do not have any nationality (neither British nor Portuguese)".

The birth certificate given to the child at birth "only proves that the child was born in the United Kingdom but is not a sufficient document to certify or prove British nationality".