The requirement to have private health insurance (known as Comprehensive Sickness Insurance or CSI) continues to be a barrier to certain EU citizens acquiring British nationality.
In short, prior to Brexit, EU citizens who were not economically active – i.e. students or self-sufficient individuals – were expected to have private health insurance during their residence in the UK.
Although in theory the absence of private health insurance could affect the legal residence of certain Europeans, in practice few were aware of this requirement and to my knowledge no one was expelled for not having it. It was usually only when students or self-sufficient EU citizens or their family members applied for permanent residence and were refused that they realised they had not met this requirement.
When the EU Settlement Scheme was launched, the government decided that Europeans were not required to show that they had had private health insurance for the 5 years of residence necessary to qualify for indefinite residence. So far so good… it seemed that the government had completely forgotten about the issue of private health insurance.
Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case. From 2020, the issue of private health insurance was reborn, and surprisingly the lack of it may now affect the outcome of naturalisation applications from Europeans who resided in this country as students, self-sufficient or even their family members.
While it is true that the Home Office can, at its discretion, (i.e. at its whim), not request compliance, it is not fully clear on what occasions it does so. It is understandable that many people do not want to take the risk of applying for nationality if they are not sure they can obtain it, and even more so if the £1200+ application fee is at stake.
We can only hope that in 2022 the government will forget once and for all about the tedious issue of private medical insurance and remove this barrier that prevents certain European citizens and their family members from acquiring British nationality.
Manuel Padilla Behar specialises in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here: email@example.com
First published in Spanish in Express News