EU nationals now account for more than a third of all applications for British citizenship, statistics show.
Some 37% of all applications submitted in the year ending June 2021 were from EU nationals, compared with 12% in 2016, according to data published by the Home Office on Thursday.
Applications for British citizenship by EU nationals rose by 83% in comparison with the previous year, to 74,384 – the highest number in a 12-month period since comparable records began in 2004.
The Home Office said this increase is likely to reflect more people seeking to confirm their status in the UK following the EU referendum and the UK’s exit from the EU.
Since March 2019, EU nationals resident in the UK, and their family members, have been able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.
The latest data from the scheme show that 6.09 million applications had been received up to July 31 2021, according to the Home Office.
Overall, statistics show there were 200,177 applications for British citizenship in the year ending June this year, 35% more than in the year ending June 2020.
There were 147,369 grants of British citizenship in the year, 4% more than the previous year, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic response, the Home Office said.
It estimates that there were an estimated 19.6 million passenger arrivals in the year ending June, including returning UK residents, an 81% drop compared with the previous year due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
There were 830,969 visas granted in the year ending June 2021, of which 35% were for study, 26% were to visit, 21% were to work, 6% were for family, and 13% for other reasons.
Elsewhere, the figures show that 511 Afghan nationals were offered protection in the UK in the 12 months to June 2021, in the form of asylum, resettlement and other types of leave.
This is down from 942 in the 12 months to June 2020.
All resettlement activity in the UK was paused between March and November 2020, leading to a drop of 81% in the overall number of resettlement grants from 3,560 in the year to June 2020 to just 661 in the year to June 2021.
This total includes nine Afghan nationals, compared with 89 in the previous 12 months.
However, these figures do not include the resettlement of Afghan staff who supported British efforts in the country.
Separate figures show that, since 2013, the Home Office has resettled more than 3,300 Afghan staff and their families in the UK.