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Latvians rush for UK citizenship prior to EU vote

As Great Britain prepares for a June 23 nationwide vote over staying in the EU, some Latvians living in London are applying for British citizenship over worries that the country could leave the bloc, reported Latvian Television (LTV) Wednesday.

It will not be known precisely what changes are to be expected for EU guest workers in Britain before the referendum takes place. However, most Latvians living in the United Kingdom seem rather unaffected by the possible changes. The rest are applying for British passports.

According to the British-EU agreement reached in Brussels, new guest workers will be barred from receiving work benefits for the first four years, while child benefits will be reduced to that of the child's country of residence. However these things are only a given if Great Britain doesn't leave the EU.

Latvian Television's Ilze Kalve talked to Latvians in London.

"You have to work on your own. If you have no job, you might as well not be here. There's nothing to do here without a job," said Bruno Rižakovs, a Londoner whose daughter is now eight months old.

"I'll have it okay as I'll have a British passport. I think that everyone should apply for a passport. If they'll start sending people away, everyone will be okay if they have the passport," 17-year-old Daniels Poliščuks told Latvian Television.

As Britain moves against the perceived threat of benefit tourism, most Latvians LTV spoke to actually support the government on the matter.

"If people actually come here with pure intentions and want to work, not abuse the fact that they do go the extra mile for you in Britain, everything will be okay.

If the first thing one does is go and register at a municipality, [saying] I need this, I need that... I'm not saying it's bad, but you shouldn't do that," Ance Vāle, formerly from Sigulda, told LTV.

According to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, there are 1,190 people with a dual citizenship of the United Kingdom and Latvia. 

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