I am and American woman who started with a spouses settlement visa and have had ILR for almost 5 years now. I have been eligible to apply for UK citizenship about two years ago but never applied because, due to a family bereavement, neither my husband nor I have been in full time employment since 2010.

I have recently split with my husband (separated, not divorced) taken a full time teaching post in Malta. As this is a government/public sector position I am facing suspension at the end of the month of I dont apply for Maltese residency and work permit. I was avoiding this because I was afraid that I would loose my ILR before I could make a citizenship application. Is this correct?

Will I lose my ILR if I apply for a Maltese ID card and NIS number? Or will I only become liable for dual residency taxes?

The only reasons I can find for losing ILR is staying away for more than two years or bad behaviour.

For political, tax and cultural purposes I am planning on applying for Italian citizenship (based on ancestry) rather than UK citizenship, but I do not want to risk loosing my ILR visa until I can conform that my grandfather was not naturalised before my father was born.

Can anybody clarify the UK's standing on dual residency for a third-party national?

1 Answer 1


ILR means that you have rights to stay in the UK as a resident permamentaly, as you think you want to settle down there, and live there for the rest of your life (or at least for a long time).

However simply leaving the UK, and getting a temporary (less than two years) residence elsewhere is fine (as there can be lots of valid reasons to be outside of the country while still retaining the intent to return to the UK as a permanent resident). But when returning to the UK in that two year period you have to return to the UK with the explicit intent of continuing your residence there (not as a tourist or a visitor), otherwise they will deem that you don't want to be a resident anymore in the UK, and will revoke your ILR status.

Being outside of the country for more than two years is also an indication that you don't want to remain in the UK, and will mean that your status will be revoked.

From what you described, you clearly want to get some kind of EU citizenship, but prefer that to be an Italian one, and you want to have a backup plan, which is fine. There are multiple routes:

Option one for you would be to try to get yourself naturalised as a UK citizen while you are still in the UK. While you won't be an EU citizen this route anymore (as of 1 February 2020) dependent on the UK-EU agreements it might still ease your status in Malta, Italy and any other EU countries.

Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries.

Note that in order to get naturalised you have to intend to remain in the UK, which you clearly don't want to do, so any plans on moving away should be done after you've got your citizenship.

As from 16 August 1992, Italian citizenship is no longer lost in concomitance with the acquisition of foreign citizenship unless the Italian citizens formally renounces it, and save international agreements.

So you can keep both the UK and IT citizenships, and the IT one will provide you the right of Free Movement inside the UE

Option two is to go to Malta, and if you happen to figure out that you won't be able to get the Italian citizenship then quickly return to the UK with the explicit intent of staying there (you have to state this to the immigration officer).

You have to do this in the two year period after leaving, but preferably as soon as possible. You also have to abstain from entering the UK before returning for any other reason, as they might revoke your ILR in that case.

Note that following this route only means that your ILR status remains intact, but you might still lose right to get naturalised, as for that you have to be in the country for 450 days in the 5 years and for 90 days in the 12 months prior to the application. If you are in Malta for a long time, then it's possible that you'll be out of the 450 day rule, so while you retain your ILR status you might still lose the ability to obtain the citizenship easily (or at least you have to wait a few more years).

Option three is of course to get the Italian citizenship if you can, as an Italian citizen you will also be an EU citizen, and if you move back to the UK before the end of 2020 you can get a pre-settled status allowing you to remain and work in the UK. This won't give you the same benefits as an IRL, and is only viable until the end of 2020 after which there will be different visa requirements for EU citizens in the UK.

Option four is to remain in Malta for 5 years and try to get a citizenship there. Malta is both an EU and a Commonwealth country so getting a citizenship there is also beneficial in both Italy and the UK.

Either option you chose, for tax reasons there is an EU-wide tax treaty, meaning you'll only have to pay the usual taxes in the country where you are actually residing: in this case it will be Malta. You might be liable to US taxes as well however.

  • 3
    AFAIK, the US doesn't have any laws about dual (or more) citizenship so I don't know why you state she would lose her US citizenship if she became a UK citizen.
    – mkennedy
    Jan 23, 2015 at 20:19
  • @mkennedy you can have multiple citizenships with the US one, but if you get naturalised after the age of 18 into something else, you might lose the US one
    – SztupY
    Jan 24, 2015 at 9:28
  • 3
    You don't lose your US citizenship simply by being naturalized as a citizen of another country. You must explicitly intend to lose your US citizenship and the US assumes, with no evidence to the contrary, that you intend to keep your US citizenship when you naturalize in another country. Jan 25, 2015 at 2:24
  • 2
    @SztupY Please read the rest of it. Especially the whole several paragraphs which address the issue and explicitly describe what I said. Jan 26, 2015 at 21:55
  • 2
    @MichaelHampton instead of waiting for the poster to change the text you can also suggest edits yourselves
    – SztupY
    Mar 23, 2015 at 9:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.