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Suffolk student Estelle Dragan struggling to obtain UK citizenship despite having British mother reports overwhelming public support

PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:07 30 April 2017

Estelle Dragan has lived most of her life in the UK, but has been unable to acquire UK citizenship. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Estelle Dragan has lived most of her life in the UK, but has been unable to acquire UK citizenship. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A student from Chelmondiston who was born to a British mother but has struggled to acquire British citizenship has described the overwhelmingly positive reaction to her plight.

Estelle Dragan has lived most of her life in the UK, but has been unable to aquire UK citizenship. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEstelle Dragan has lived most of her life in the UK, but has been unable to aquire UK citizenship. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Estelle Dragan, 19, who was born in France to a French father and British mother, began the process of applying for British citizenship after the EU referendum result was announced last year.

But because her British mother was born in Tanzania, the teenager was told she needed to apply through naturalisation – a process that required her to have comprehensive health insurance for five years despite EU nationals not needing it to reside in the UK.

It means the Home Office were unable to continue with her application.

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Estelle’s UK citizenship struggles explained

Following the Home Office’s refusal, Estelle has obtained the insurance but cannot resume her application until after five years from now – a process that will be completed three years after the UK has left the EU.

After reporting Estelle’s unique plight earlier this month, the University of Birmingham English and French student has been inundated with support.

“I have had a lot of people contact me,” she said.

“I had the university papers contact and I had a call from the BBC, and just lots of raising awareness with people wanting to know more.”

Specialist lawyers have also been in touch to offer help, while a petition has attracted more than 2,800 responses.

“It’s been a positive reaction with people wanting to know more,” she said.

“They are very much saying it is ridiculous.”

Constituency MP James Cartlidge confirmed he had written to the Home Office after receiving a letter from Estelle’s mother, and said that while it was not a convention to comment on individual cases he could “entirely understand why there has been a strong public reaction” to Estelle’s plight.

Immigration Legal Services in Ipswich said the need for comprehensive health insurance for those applying for citizenship was “little known”.

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said it was a directive set by the EU and not by the UK.

The spokeswoman said those without the insurance would not be deported or barred from entering the UK, and added: “European citizens resident in the UK make a vital contribution both to our economy and our society.

“That’s why we will be making securing their status, as well as that of British nationals in the EU, a priority as soon as we trigger Article 50 and the negotiations begin.

“Their right to remain will remain unchanged while we are a member of the European Union and they do not need any additional documents to prove their status.”

To view or sign Estelle’s petition visit the page online here.

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