Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has challenged the UK Government on the uncertainty millions of EU nationals living in the UK face following the UK’s exit from the EU.
Mr Newlands raised the case of one of his constituents, Miss Ellen Höfer-Franz, who despite having lived in Scotland for over nine years, is concerned about applying for permanent residency to guarantee her status following Brexit, because of the changes made to the rules regarding comprehensive sickness insurance in 2011.
Certain categories of EU nationals, such as students and self-sufficient persons, require comprehensive sickness insurance to qualify for right of residence. In 2011, the Home Office changed its approach and ruled that using the NHS doesn’t count as comprehensive sickness insurance. The change was poorly publicised, and few people are aware of the new requirements.
Mr Newlands commented: “Millions of EU nationals in the UK have been living in uncertainty for over nine months now, but are still waiting for guarantees from the UK Government that they will have a right to stay in the UK after Brexit. Thousands of them have tried to guarantee their status by applying for permanent residence, but have been caught out by these little known rules regarding comprehensive sickness insurance and have found out that they don’t qualify for the Permanent Residence permit. Several of EU-born nationals have also received intimidating letters from the Home Office telling them to make arrangements to leave the country.
“With Article 50 being triggered in the next few days, guaranteeing these people’s right to stay needs to be on the top of the agenda when negotiations start in earnest. The Government must recognise the contribution EU nationals make to our economy and society by guaranteeing their rights at the earliest opportunity.”