In order to qualify for a document certifying permanent residence, EEA nationals who have been students and/or self-sufficient during their qualifying period for permanent residence must, under EU law, have held Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) during that time.
Whilst this requirement dervices from EU rather than UK law, the UK Home Office has been applying it strictly. The published Guidance sets out the specified documents the Home Office will accept as evidence that this requirement is met.
The ability to lawfully use the National Health Service (NHS) is not regarded as a form of CSI, a position that is questionable at best, and the European Commission is currently investigating the UK for a potential breach of EU law.
Unfortunately, some EEA nationals are still unaware of the requirement to hold CSI until an application for a document certifying permanent residence is refused, whilst others struggle to provide the documents the Home Office specifies.
There is however some good news for EEA nationals making such applications. The renowned EU Rights Clinic that members of our team work with has produced information confirming that further documents, not included in the Home Office Guidance, should demonstrate that the individual has held CSI. When a social security body of a Member State makes an enquiry to a social security body of another Member State about an individual’s period of insurance, the Structured Electronic Document S041 (SED S041) is issued as a reply. This document sets out whether, for the period specified, the individual was covered by the healthcare insurance system of the issuing institution.
The SED S041 is currently only issued by the Bulgarian and Czech Republic social security institutions. However, other Member States may issue formal letters confirming the EEA national has previously held insurance. Both documents should be accepted as evidence of holding CSI.
This is helpful for those making permanent resident applications as the SED S041, or a formal letter, may be easier to obtain compared to other documents that can be used as evidence and allows cover from another Member State while the EEA national resides in the UK. If the Home Office reject applicants who use such documents, there is a right to challenge this decision by way of Judicial Review.
A document certifying permanent residence is required if the holder wishes to apply to naturalise as a British citizen as it demonstrates that the EEA national is entitled to stay in the UK indefinitely. However, according to the latest UK position regarding Brexit, those holding a document certifying permanent residence will be required in any event to make an application for the new UK settled status. EEA Nationals who wish to apply for the new settled status, are not required to hold CSI in any case.
You can stay up to date on any Brexit developments via our Brexit analysis page which also explains the new settled status in more detail.
If you are concerned about your status and would like to speak to a member of our team, please contact us.