EU students must have private health insurance

Immigration lawyers identified a “serious problem” which could affect hundreds of thousands of current and former EU students who wish to remain in the UK post-Brexit.

We are warning around 125,000 EU nationals* who will want to apply for permanent residence in the UK that their time spent studying may be “discounted” by the Home Office because of a loophole relating to ‘compulsory sickness insurance’.

Inquiry announced into Home Office treatment of overseas students

EU migrants who have come to the UK to study need to provide proof they have had sickness insurance during their time here, either in the form of a reciprocal arrangement from their own country’s health service, or a private insurance policy. An European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) would be valid whilst their stay was temporary, but not once they wish to stay permanently – a common, and potentially serious, misunderstanding.

A good example would be a young woman who spent three years as an undergraduate, and a further two studying for Master’s. That equates to the requisite five years’ lawful residence history in the UK for the Home Office to grant her permanent residence. But the Home Office will challenge her application because she doesn’t have the correct insurance in place. There could be tens of thousands of people just like her making the same mistake right now.

We strongly advise all students in similar situations to seek advice either from their university’s international office, or from a specialist immigration solicitor “as soon as they can.”

The warning has come as the Home Office is already coming under heavy criticism for its treatment of international students in the UK over the last two years, something which has resulted in the department becoming the centre of a full inquir

The Home Affairs Committee published a damning report in June which said the department’s actions of removing tens of thousands of students from the country appeared to have been “a knee-jerk reaction” to a BBCPanorama documentary which saw all overseas students be implicated in an English test cheating scam which took place at just two London-based schools.

Although the Committee said 28,000 refusal and removal decisions had been made, and that over 4,600 people had already been removed from the UK, Indian media has suggested the number could be as much as up to 50,000. According to the Indian Workers’ Association, around 70 per cent of all students affected are of Indian nationality.

*According to Higher Education Statistics Agency data, there were 125,000 EU nationals studying in the UK in 2014/15

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