EU citizens living in the UK have expressed panic and confusion after it was alleged that Government regulations will allow the Home Office to remove some of them from the country if they do not have a comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI).
A briefing published by a barrister specialising in immigration law claims that the Home Office acquired controversial new enforcement powers against EU citizens from 1 February.
It warns those EU citizens who are not considered to have a “right of residence”, including some students and spouses of UK citizens, and who do not have CSI, could be deported or refused entry back into the UK if they leave. The majority of EU nationals living in the UK are entitled to use the NHS, meaning many do not have the insurance.
A Home Office spokesperson told The Independent: “It is completely wrong to say that we have new powers to deport EU citizens without comprehensive sickness insurance. EU citizens will not be removed from the UK or refused entry solely because they do not have this insurance.
“Their right to remain will remain unchanged while we are a member of the European Union and they do not need any additional documents to prove their status.”
But the briefing, published on the website ‘Free Movement’ which offers updates and advice on UK immigration and asylum law, nonetheless provoked a wave of panic from European nationals residing in the UK. Dozens of people posted comments on a link to the article shared on a Facebook page for the campaign group the3million.
“I’m scared,” one person said simply, while another expressed confusion, saying: “It raises more questions than answers.”
Among those expressing concern were a number of European mature students studying in the UK, as well as spouses of British citizens who are not in work – all of whom are at risk of being removed from the country under the new regulations.
Speaking to The Independent, Sylvia Gawron, a Polish national who studied at Dundee University and has just finished a PhD, said: “Throughout my time as a student I was not aware of the requirement for CSI. I’ve just been told to go and register with the nearest GP by the university. (full article: independent.co.uk)