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Brexit: Britons’ new M card approved for Belgian nationality applications
The British community in Belgium is celebrating the news that the new electronic residence M card will qualify as an official residence document in nationality applications.
Belgium’s justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne announced on Friday that a draft amendment to a royal decree had been approved by ministers, thereby restoring the route for British residents in Belgium to obtain nationality.
Amid the turmoil of the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, Britons in Belgium discovered that it was more difficult to adopt dual nationality due to an ‘administrative oversight’ that did not recognize M cards as official residence documents.
The British Embassy in Belgium and Facebook support group Brexit and Belgian Brits (BABBS) were among organisations lobbying the Belgian government to take action before the end of year – the deadline for Britons to exchange their current ID cards for the M card.
BABBS sent an open letter in April, calling for the justice minister to amend legislation. Following Friday’s announcement, co-founder Emma Woodford told The Bulletin: “This is a crucial step to help many British people who have been living with the uncertainty of being able to obtain Belgian nationality feel more settled and confident about their future here. We are very happy that the Belgian government made this change so quickly and we hope it will be implemented before the end of the year so M card holders can start the process of becoming Belgian citizens.”
A press release by Minister Van Quickborne outlined how the amendment would enable “Britons who are legally resident in our Kingdom to always have the possibility of acquiring Belgian nationality”.
“These new residence documents cover the stay of beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement and their families as they can no longer benefit from residence documents issued to European citizens and their families. The draft royal decree therefore takes this new situation into account,” it said.
The legal amendment will now proceed to the Council of State.
Photo: Getty Images Plus© Mirsad Sarajilic