ECS

EEA PR & Comprehensive Sickness Insurance

March 2017
EEA PR – the Comprehensive Sickness Insurance Requirement – the Retrospective Effect!

With the Article 50 due to be trigger before the end of the month, many EEA nationals will be keen to file for a document proving their right to reside in the UK permanently as soon as possible.

The longstanding myth that permanent residence is acquired automatically by residing in the UK for a period of 5 years has rendered many EEA nationals oblivious to the true nature of their immigration status.

For many, the requirements to be met, the amount of documentation and information to be submitted in support of their EEA PR application, has come as a complete surprise.

With the Brexit in sight, they are now facing qualifying requirements that they have never been aware of, which are being applied to them retrospectively.

The most controversial of these requirements by far is the need to have held ‘comprehensive sickness insurance’ (CSI) when relying on periods of self-sufficiency or study.

As EEA nationals residing in the UK have access to NHS care, many will be under the impression that this access amounts to having CSI. Unfortunately this is not the case at present.

Realising that access to the NHS will not suffice, applicants will hope to be able to rely on a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by another state member as an alternative to the CSI. The Home Office policy document appears to suggest that in certain circumstances an EHIC (or E111) card would be acceptable as an alternative to having a private CSI when used to obtain a permanent residence document.

The CSI requirement is likely to impact most of the people who have spent all or part of their qualifying time in the UK in a self-sufficient capacity either studying or simply being inactive.

Many scenarios come to mind when considering the devastating effects the lack of CSI could have on applicants and their families.

These include EEA elderly parents who came to the UK to be near their EEA children. Most of them will not have ever worked in the UK and will not have been dependent on their children. Without CSI, the time spent in the UK is unlikely to count toward their permanent residence’s qualifying period. There will also be EEA nationals who took time off work to have a family or care for a loved one or to go on a retreat.
Unfortunately under the current rules, in most cases, the lack of CSI will prove to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Those who do not currently have comprehensive sickness insurance have the following options:

- purchase a Comprehensive Sickness Insurance now so that to start the clock again towards the 5 year qualifying period. This, of course, depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, could turn out to be a complete waste of money;
- become a self-employed person or a worker, again resetting the clock towards permanent residence ;
-stand your ground and wait to see what the Brexit negotations bring. This is by far the bravest option. Although it is likely that something will be put in place to protect EEA nationals who have resided in the UK without having the right of residence either temporarily or permanently, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.

If you need Immigration legal assistance with your EEA PR application, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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