EU residents in Portsmouth keen to become new Brits have Brexit fears eased

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ADVICE has been given to fearful foreign residents living in the area in the wake of the EU referendum result.

Dozens of people attended a free legal advice session yesterday for EU and non-EU residents becoming British citizens or obtaining permanent residence in the UK.

There is nothing to worry about but we suggest people formalise their status of permanent residency as soon as they can

Dr Charles Leddy-Owen, University of Portsmouth

Held at Friendship House, in Elm Grove, Southsea, the event aimed to ease worries of EU citizens about their future as the UK prepares to leave Europe following June’s referendum vote.

Lech Cupak, 43, of Havant, said the session helped him avoid potentially making a costly mistake in his application for permanent residence.

He said: ‘I would have made a mistake in my application which could have cost me thousands of pounds. I wouldn’t have known without coming to the meeting today.’

The Polish national came to Britain in 2007 for a fresh start after losing his job.

He said: ‘My goal now is to become British.’

EU citizens gain permanent residency after five years of living and working in the UK.

To become a British citizen they need to be over 18 and have had permanent residency status for at least a year.

Applicants who make a mistake in their forms could lose their £1,236 process fee to the Home Office.

Julia Smith, 31, is from New Zealand and has been living in Portsmouth for three years.

She was concerned about the implication of Brexit on her and other non-EU nationals now living in Britain.

She added: ‘I feel like this is my home here – except the government says it’s not.’

The advice session was hosted by Dr Charles Leddy-Owen, a sociology lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. He runs an application form-check service for residents.

He said: ‘There is nothing to worry about, but we suggest people formalise their status of permanent residency as soon as they can.’

For help, email charles.leddy-owen@port.ac.uk