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Home Office now says health insurance ‘just a technicality’


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“EU citizens will not be removed from the UK or refused entry solely because they do not have comprehensive sickness insurance,” said a spokesman.

Very welcome news but it is difficult to understand the Home Office’s legal position on all this. They are categorically NOT saying that they will recognise a right of permanent residence for a self sufficient person or student who did not have comprehensive sickness insurance, only that they will not be refused entry or removed.

It is not written down in any of the myriad official policies of which I am aware; it is at the moment just a statement to a journalist.

Laws are supposed to be universal and applied equally to all. So why is this suddenly a “technical” requirement which can be ignored for some EU citizens for some purposes but not for others?

The Home Office undoubtedly says it has a power to refuse entry to or remove an EU citizen with no “right to reside” under Directive 2004/38/EC. See paragraph 23(6)(a) of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016. In EU law it is very highly questionable that there is such a power because Articles 20 and 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union give a right to all EU citizens to move between and reside in other Member States.

The only explanation I can think of is that the Home Office is pretending it can remove EU citizens by pretending that Articles 20 and 21 TFEU have no legal effect independently of Directive 2004/38/EC. The reason for the Home Office pretence is so that it can quietly remove a handful of EU citizen rough sleepers. I would be interested to know the ethnic mix of those targeted by the Home Office.

The UK Government has been increasingly hostile to free movement laws over the last few years. As part of that hostility, which in part lost the referendum, the Home Office purports to have taken on an incredibly broad and almost certainly unlawful power and is being highly selective — discriminatory is the other word to use here — about who the power is used on.

More detail in my earlier full legal briefing.

Source: EU students told health insurance ‘just a technicality’, after German woman threatened with removal | UK news | The Guardian

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Colin Yeo

Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


One Response

  1. Well, this is the Bermuda triangle in which tons of EU citizens in the UK permanently dwell, including even some non-EU family members, eg HO will not confirm right to reside/ permanent residence, but will not take any action either. The spokesperson most likely just confirming what he or she knows to be status quo. I have clients refused DCPRs (in violation of Barnet) for a bizarre reason that “even though Home Office knows them to be EU citizens, their previous IDs that they had earlier supplied, will have now expired”. They are then told they have no right of appeal because they have not proven that they are EU citizens. And in the next sentence it (now) says cheerfully, that, as EU citizens, they are NOt required to leave the UK! So either they do recognise my clients to be EU citizens or they don’t? HO clearly seems to think some sort of a third state exists. In fact the entire judgement of Artimeymour is in that third state — “we are not removing your client, so he has no human rights claim”. I have a client whom HO refuses to issue with a residence card for 5 years (they think it’s a marriage of convenience), but since they have no proof, they never tried to detain or deport him either, so he is in this state permanently, sort of does have EU right, but they won’t confirm it. TONS of Eastern EU pensioners are here for years, most on pension credit, who are now unable in any way to confirm PR for various reasons, and are also all denied relief on human rights grounds because no one deporting them. HO does not appear to realise that there is no third state between recognising someone’s right to reside and not.