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Worried 'Brexpats' sign up for Spanish citizenship classes

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Worried 'Brexpats' sign up for Spanish citizenship classes
Photo: Patrick Dobeson/Flickr
16:20 CEST+02:00
British expats living in Spain who are worried about the effects of Brexit are signing up for courses to become Spanish citizens when the UK leaves the European Union.

A language academy in Mijas on the Costa del Sol has become the first centre to officially offer a special "Brexpats Spanish Nationality Course".

The Parnell Academy is starting a course next week to teach the sort of "general knowledge" required to pass the Spanish nationality test alongside Spanish language to ensure applicants reach the necessary A2 standard.

"A lot of people who live in this area have expressed concern about how they will be affected by Brexit, what implications will it have on their right to live here, on healthcare, pensions," Anne Hernandez, the founder of the Brexpats in Spain, an association formed in the wake of the Brexit vote to represent expat interests, told the Local.

"Many of us are seriously considering adopting Spanish citizenship but it isn’t simply a case of living here for over ten years. You need to have a decent level of Spanish and to pass a citizenship test requiring social, historical, geographical, political and even sporting knowledge about Spain," she said.  

"Even some of Spanish friends said they would struggle to get all the answers right," she added.

After so many enquiries on how to pass the test, the association approached the Parnell Academy to devise a course especially for 'Brexpats'.

READ MORE: Worried about Brexit? Here's how to become Spanish

"It doesn’t matter how long you have lived here and how integrated you might be, you will still need to study for the test," explained Natasha Parnell, director at Parnell Academy.

"Questions range from legal opening hours of businesses in Spain, to knowledge of national holidays and the different sort of climates that exist across Spain. And then there is sporting knowledge and questions on how our political system works," she said.

And Brexit may seem like a long way off but those considering taking Spanish nationality are advised to start studying as soon as possible.

"We offer two one-hour classes a week of combined Spanish and general knowledge for the test," explains Parnell, who runs the language academy with her father.

"Of course it depends entirely on the student but if you were a complete beginner at Spanish I would say it could take between two and three years before you would be competent to take the test".

In the aftermath of the June 23rd referendum British expats have been circulating a petition calling on the Spanish government to revise conditions required for Spanish citizenship.

The petition launched by Giles Tremlett and William Chislett asks the Spanish government to allow Brits who have lived in Spain for more than ten years dual citizenship – the current law requires those who adopt Spanish nationality to renounce their former nationality.

"Lots of people have already expressed an interest in doing the course even if, in the end they choose not to become Spanish.  I think it is really important to integrate and this course will help people do that," said Hernandez, who is from the UK but moved to Spain and married a Spaniard.

"Brits in Spain seem to have the honorary title of 'expats' that marks us out as something different from 'immigrants'. But that is what we are and so would should make every effort to integrate out of respect for our new host country."

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