Call for evidence: Residence card delays in Sweden

Are you the non-EU family member of an EU citizen living in Sweden?

Are you experiencing delays in receiving your residence card?

The EU Rights Clinic can help!

Under EU law, the Swedish authorities are required to issue residence documents within six months to the family members of EU citizens who come from a country outside the EU.

However, the reality is that the Swedish migration authority (Migrationsverket) is taking well over a year – sometimes even two years – to issue a residence card to non-EU family members.

As a result, family members are unable to lead a normal life: they cannot prove their right to work, they are unable to leave Sweden while awaiting their residence document, and the state of uncertainty caused by excessive delays can lead to anxiety and depression.

This undermines the right of free movement which EU citizens and family members are guaranteed under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The EU Rights Clinic have received several complaints from non-EU family members in Sweden and we have therefore launched a review to determine whether this is a systematic problem which merits a complaint to the EU institutions.

We are therefore calling upon all non-EU family members of EU citizens who are living in Sweden and who have been waiting more than six months to obtain a residence card from the Migrationsverket to contact us by email (eurightsclinic@gmail.com) and share their experiences.

If you or anyone you know have been waiting for more than six months to obtain a family member residence card (“uppehållskort för en unionsmedborgares familjemedlem”), please contact us by email (eurightsclinic@gmail.com)  with the title “Sweden – residence card delays” in the title.

All information received will be treated confidentially and will not be divulged without your explicit consent.

Tack så mycket!

The EU Rights Clinic

The EU Rights Clinic is a partnership between ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels. It helps EU citizens and their family members overcome problems they encounter when moving within the EU.

The EU Rights is grateful for the financial support it has received from the European Programme for Integration and Migration under its sub-fund on EU mobility.

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Brexit: EU Rights Clinic Calls for Further Protection of Citizens’ Rights in Second Phase of Negotiations

The EU Rights Clinic has submitted a letter to President of the European Council Donald Tusk calling upon the Council to instruct the European Commission to continue negotiations on citizens’ rights in the second phase of Brexit negotiations and to address those matters related to citizens’ rights which were not addressed in the interim deal that concluded the first phase of negotiations in December 2017.

Read our letter to President Donald Tusk – you can add your name as a signatory to our letter here.

Acquired rights absent from withdrawal agreement

Following correspondence with the Commission’s Article 50 Task Force in December 2017, the EU Rights Clinic has received written confirmation that the acquired rights of certain family members and primary carers of children, who currently enjoy rights of residence, work and equal treatment under EU law were not included in the interim deal on citizens rights that was reached on 8 December 2017 and which led to conclusion of the first phase of Brexit negotiations.

Based upon statements made in the Council’s negotiating guidelines and directives, the Commission’s Essential Principles on Citizens’ Rights, as well as the European Parliament’s resolution on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom, the EU Rights Clinic considers that the interim deal of 8 December 2017 fails to cover the entire spectrum of rights which all EU citizens and their family members presently enjoy under EU law.

In particular, the interim deal does not cover family members of EU citizens who have returned home after having resided in another EU country, as regards both those who have returned home before Brexit and those who will return to their home Member State after Brexit. In addition, the interim deal fails to address the rights of so-called Zambrano carers – namely non-EU parents of EU children living in their own country – and is silent on the continuing rights of free movement of UK nationals after Brexit. A number of technical aspects are also not sufficiently addressed in the interim deal.

Continued negotiations on citizens’ rights must be given priority

The EU Rights Clinic is seeking assurances from the Council that the directives which it will give to the Commission on the conduct of the second phase of negotiations will seek to enhance and extend the principles and commitments contained in the interim deal.

Priority should therefore be given in the second phase to the continuation of negotiations on citizens rights as a distinct strand that will cover the acquired rights of certain family members and primary carers of children, the continuing right of free movement of UK nationals in the EU27 after Brexit, the incorporation into the final terms of withdrawal of commitments made by the UK on “comprehensive sickness insurance” and “genuine and effective work”, and the inclusion of specific guarantees to ensure that restrictions on grounds of public policy or security comply with the principles of proportionality and equality, adhere to fundamental and human rights and provide for procedural safeguards and full rights of appeal.

Background

The letter to President Tusk has been submitted by the EU Rights Clinic on behalf of 60 signatories, including representatives of the3million and British in Europe, a number of Members of the European Parliament, leading legal experts and academics, as well as representatives of civil society organisations.

The EU Rights Clinic is a partnership between ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels. It helps EU citizens and their family members overcome problems they encounter when moving within the EU.

If you are an EU citizen in the UK or a UK national in another EU country and are having problems exercising your EU rights, please contact us at rights.clinic@ecas.org.

The EU Rights is grateful for the financial support it has received from the European Programme for Integration and Migration under its sub-fund on EU mobility.

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Brexit: EU Rights Clinic Calls For Rights of EU Citizens and Family Members to be Fully Protected

The EU Rights Clinic has submitted letters to the European Commission’s Brexit Task Force and the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group to express its concerns about the protections granted to the rights of EU citizens and their family members living in the UK following the recent agreement reached by the EU and the UK which concludes the first phase of negotiations on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Urgent confirmation is sought from the European Commission and European Parliament that the rights of various categories of EU citizens and family members who currently enjoy rights of residence under EU law will be fully protected under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. The various categories of citizens and family members affected include:

  • family members of EU citizens who have returned home after having resided in another Member State as recognised by the Court of Justice’s ruling in Case C-370/90 Surinder Singh and subsequent cases;
  • primary carers of the children in education of migrant workers or former migrant workers under Regulation 492/2011 on the free movement of workers as recognised by the Court of Justice’s rulings in Case C-480/08 Teixeira and Joined Cases C‑147/11 and C-148/11 Czop and Punakova and subsequent cases;
  • primary carers of Union citizens having a right of residence in the EU citizens’ home country arising from the Court of Justice’s ruling in Case C-34/09 Ruiz Zambrano and subsequent cases.

The EU Rights Clinic also seeks assurances over previous commitments given by the UK concerning the interpretation of “lawful residence” under EU law and the waiving of all requirements for inactive EU citizens to have held “comprehensive sickness insurance” while living in the UK. The assurances should be the subject of specific provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement.

The letters have been submitted on behalf of 34 signatories representing various organisations providing legal assistance and advice to EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals living in the other 27 EU Member States.

If you are an EU citizen in the UK and are having problems exercising your EU rights, please contact us at rights.clinic@ecas.org.

Letter to the Brexit Task Force  –  Letter to the Brexit Steering Committee

The EU Rights is grateful for the financial support it has received from the European Programme for Integration and Migration under its sub-fund on EU mobility.

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Call for evidence: Deportation of EU Citizens and Family Members from the UK

Have you or your family received an order to leave the UK or been removed from the UK?

The EU Rights Clinic would like to hear from you!

Since the Brexit referendum, the numbers of EU citizens being detained and deported from the UK have risen significantly. This is despite statements by the UK authorities that there will be no change to the status of EU citizens living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU.

The actions of the UK authorities are in direct contravention of the right to move and reside freely under Directive 2004/38. Under the EU rules, Member States can only enforce the removal of EU citizens or their family members when they represent a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to public policy or public security. The EU Rights Clinic is therefore alarmed to hear of new reports of EU citizens who are being told to leave the country for reasons not connected to public policy or public security.

There have been several reports in the press of EU citizens and their families being threatened with deportation, being detained and being forcibly removed from the UK. The Home Office appears to be acting without consideration of the repercussions on remaining family members, including their financial livelihood and ties to the local community.

The EU Rights Clinic considers this systematic disregard for the right to free movement and protections against expulsion to be a major breach of EU law. We intend on raising the issue with the EU institutions. We would therefore like to hear from those who have been affected by the UK’s current pattern of threatening expulsion, detention, and deportation of EU citizens and their family members irrespective of whether they represent a threat to public policy or public security.

We are calling upon EU citizens and their family members have received an order to leave the UK and those who have been deported from the UK to contact us by email and share their experiences.

Please send your stories to eurightsclinic@gmail.com – please insert “UK EXP” in the subject of your email.

We hope to use this information to formulate a complaint to the EU institutions so they can take action to bring an end to the restrictive practices of the UK authorities.

All information received will be treated confidentially and will not be divulged without your explicit consent.

The EU Rights Clinic

The EU Rights is grateful for the financial support it has received from the European Programme for Integration and Migration under its sub-fund on EU mobility.

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EU Rights Clinic Refers Sweden to European Commission for Breach of Free Movement Rules

Brussels, 14 November 2017

Today, the EU Rights Clinic has submitted a complaint to the European Commission against Sweden for the refusal of the Swedish tax authorities to issue a personal identification number – ‘personnummer’ – to EU citizens and their family members living in Sweden, preventing them from engaging in everyday life in Sweden.

A personnummer is essential for accessing any kind of private or public service – banking services, renting a home, phone and internet services, medical treatment, getting a job. The systematic refusal to issue a personnummer to EU citizens and their family members constitutes a restriction on their free movement rights and is in breach of EU law.

As this is a problem that has existed for over ten years, we urge the Commission to take a strong enforcement stance and bring infringement proceedings against Sweden under Article 258 TFEU and take the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) without further delay.

In conjunction with the complaint, the EU Rights Clinic will also be submitting a petition to the European Parliament.

Background

The problem relates to the Swedish population register law, which requires EU citizens to demonstrate that they will reside in Sweden for a year or more before being able to obtain a personal identification number. In addition, the Swedish administrative policy on comprehensive sickness insurance is unduly restrictive because in practice neither private healthcare nor reliance on the public healthcare system is accepted.

Under EU law, EU citizens should be considered genuinely resident in Sweden after having only lived in Sweden for three months. While EU law does allow Sweden to require EU citizens who are not in employment to hold comprehensive sickness insurance for themselves and their family members, the rules must be applied in a proportionate way and must give due regard to all forms of healthcare coverage.

The Swedish rules are in breach of Article 45 Charter of Fundamental Rights, Articles 20, 21 and 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Articles 24 and 25 of Directive 2004/38, as well as related ECJ case law.

The Commission has previously investigated the problem and issued a Letter of Formal Notice in infringement Case 2007-4081, but the case was closed because of assurances given by Swedish authorities. The Parliament has also received a number of petitions and recommended the use of the so-called “coordination number”, but this is not a feasible solution because such a coordination number does not provide access to the full range of public and private services.

The EU Rights Clinic is a collaboration between ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels. As part of the ACT for Free Movement project, funded by EPIM, the EU Rights Clinic is investigating cases of breaches of free movement rights in EU Member States. This complaint was submitted in cooperation with Crossroads Göteborg. Together, the EU Rights Clinic and Crossroads Göteborg have received 285 individual complaints from affected EU citizens and their family members.

Read the executive summary of the complaint here

The EU Rights is grateful for the financial support it has received from the European Programme for Integration and Migration under its sub-fund on EU mobility.

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Call for evidence: Comprehensive sickness insurance in the UK

Have you or your family been refused permanent residence in the UK because you did not have private healthcare insurance?

The EU Rights Clinic would like to hear from you!

***Watch this video for a summary of the problem (from 16:45)***

At present, the UK does not accept that reliance on the public healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), constitutes a valid form of comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) for the purposes of claiming a right of residence in the UK on the basis of Directive 2004/38 as given effect by the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016.

The Home Office systematically refuses to issue residence documentation to EEA students and EEA migrants who do not work, as well as their family members, on the sole basis that they rely on the NHS for their healthcare needs.

This is despite the fact that, as a matter of UK law, all persons who are ordinarily resident in the UK can access the NHS for free at the point of use.

This has led to a number of reports in the press of EU citizens in the UK being refused permanent residence because they did not hold CSI during the time they did not work in the UK.

The EU Rights Clinic considers this to be a major breach of EU law. We intend on raising the issue once more with the EU institutions. We would therefore like to hear from those who have been affected by the UK’s policy on CSI.

We are therefore calling upon EU citizens living in the UK who have been refused permanent residence because they did not have private healthcare to contact us by email and share their experiences. Please send us your story to eurightsclinic@gmail.com please insert “UK CSI” in the subject of your email).

We hope to use this information to formulate a complaint to the EU institutions so they can bring an end to the restrictive policy of the UK authorities.

All information received will be treated confidentially and will not be divulged without your explicit consent.

Thank you!

The EU Rights Clinic

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“5 Takeaways on Brexit”: Read Our Study on Brexit and Citizens’ Rights

Since the Brexit vote in June 2016, a number of studies have looked into the financial and economic impact of Brexit, but none has undertaken a thorough analysis of the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU for citizens’ rights. With more than 3 million EU citizens resident in the UK and over 1 million UK citizens residing in other Member States, whose rights in those countries will be directly affected, there is a great deal of uncertainty about their future legal status.

Access the full study – Access the policy digest

This study is divided in two parts. The first part analyses the impact of Brexit on the main series of rights that are bestowed on citizens by virtue of their EU citizenship, including the right of entry, the right of residence, the right to work, social security rights, the right to establish a business and to provide services, consumer protection rights, passenger rights, the right to non-discrimination, voting rights and the rights of access to the EU institutions. The second part looks into the impact of Brexit on the ability of UK-based organisations to continue to access EU public funding streams, an issue which has raised a lot of concern especially from UK universities and innovation-driven entities, which are among the top beneficiaries of EU funding in the UK.

As part of its mission to empower citizens to exercise their rights in the EU, the EU Rights Clinic, in partnership with ECAS, the European Disability Forum and the New Europeans, has considered the impact of Brexit on citizens’ rights under different scenarios compared to the rights that citizens currently enjoy whilst the UK is a full member of the EU. The study analyses in addition the possible repercussions of Brexit for the access of UK-based entities to EU funding streams

The study has been produced by a team comprised of Professor Anthony Valcke, Supervising Solicitor at the EU Rights Clinic, in collaboration with ECAS Director, Assya Kavrakova, ECAS Membership and Outreach Manager, Marta Pont, and ECAS intern Connor Brown from the University of Sheffield. New Europeans and the European Disability Forum have contributed, respectively, to the analysis on voting rights and on non-discrimination rights.

Call for Evidence: Problems with Personnummer in Sweden

Are you facing problems in getting your personnummer?

Are you an EU citizen who is unable to register your residence in Sweden?

The EU Rights Clinic can help!

In Sweden, getting a personummer is essential to lead a normal life in the country.

As EU citizens, we are meant to enjoy free movement across borders in all EU countries and to be treated in the same way as nationals of the country where we live.

However, for EU citizens who live in Sweden obtaining this important number is often a headache.

In recent times EU citizens have found difficulties in obtaining a personnummer and this is why we are initiating a complaint against the Swedish authorities in charge of issuing this number.

We are therefore calling upon EU citizens living in Sweden who have been refused a personnummer by the Skatteverket in 2016 to contact us by email (eurightsclinic@gmail.com) and share their experiences.

We are particularly interested in finding out the reasons given by the Swedish authorities for refusing to issue you with a personnummer.

We hope to use this information to formulate a complaint to the EU institutions so they can bring an end to the restrictive policy of the Swedish authorities on personnummer.

If you or anyone you know have had such difficulties in migrating to Sweden due to this issue, please contact us by email (eurightsclinic@gmail.com) and let us know your experience!

All information received will be treated confidentially and will not be divulged without your explicit consent.

Tack så mycket!

The EU Rights Clinic

***Watch this video for a summary of the problem (from 11:45)***

Expulsion Helpdesk: EU Rights Clinic and Europe4People join forces to help EU citizens in Belgium

Have you received an EXPULSION ORDER from the Belgian Immigration Office? Is your residence status under investigation? Are you worried about your situation and you do not know what to do?

Don’t panic! But don’t delay in getting help!

The Helpdesk for EU Citizens Facing Expulsion can HELP you to get the advice you need.

WHEN? Every Thursday evening from 18:00 to 20:00

WHERE? At the Centre Culturel Garcia Lorca, Rue des Foulons 47-49, 1000 Brussels

HOW? Please book your appointment by email helpdesk [AT] europe4people.org or use the contact form here.

Do not forget to bring all your documents!

You can watch coverage of the Helpdesk on EuroNews.

This service is free of charge and intended only for EU citizens and their family members

***Watch this video for a summary of the problem (from 27:04)***

EU Rights Clinic helps respected university professor to continue teaching in UK after being told to leave by Home Office

The EU Rights Clinic has successfully helped an award-winning senior associate professor in psychology to obtain a residence card despite the Home Office rejecting his first application and telling him he should make arrangements to leave the UK or face deportation.

The Home Office had refused our client Michael J Proulx’s first application for permanent residence on the basis that he had not proved that his EU wife was exercising free movement rights in the UK, despite having lived in the UK since 2008, during which time he conducted ground-breaking research at the University of Bath into sensory substitution that benefits the blind.

The Home Office did not accept that Michael’s wife was a worker even though she lectures part-time at the University of Bristol. One of the reasons cited for the refusal by the Home Office was that Michael and his wife did not have private healthcare insurance in place and were therefore considered “a burden on the UK’s social assistance system”.  This requirement was imposed despite the fact that our client and his wife have jointly contributed several tens of thousands of pounds in income tax and national insurance contributions during their working lives in the UK and have never claimed benefits. Michael had believed that, as a UK tax-payer, his family should be free to rely on the National Health Service (NHS) for their healthcare needs.

However, the Home Office’s current policy means that it does not accept reliance on the NHS as evidence of having comprehensive sickness insurance, which is a requirement that must be met by EU citizens who live but do not work in the UK. The UK authorities currently require EU citizens who do not work to have private healthcare insurance, even though they are entitled to free treatment on the NHS as a matter of UK law. Nor have the UK authorities put in place any process that would enable EU citizens to make voluntary healthcare surcharge contributions if they wanted to.

The UK is currently the subject of an investigation by the European Commission for breaching the EU rules on the free movement of persons as regards its restrictive policy on healthcare entitlements. Regrettably, the UK courts have so far sided with the Home Office on this issue and ruled the policy is justified.

Michael, who was a torchbearer at the 2012 London Paralympics, says:  “I still cannot quite believe what happened to us. The Home Office appear to have their priorities all mixed up. We are very grateful that the EU Rights Clinic was able to intervene on our behalf.”

Michael was assisted in this case by caseworkers Amelia Stoenescu and Ben Slaugh, students at the University of Kent, under the supervision of qualified lawyers. Anthony Valcke, solicitor for the EU Rights Clinic commented: “This case is a perfect example of the lunacy of the Home Office’s policy that requires non-working EU citizens to have private healthcare in place even if their working spouse contributes to the UK’s public finances. The policy is designed to prevent EU citizens from becoming an unreasonable burden on the UK’s finances. Yet when an EU citizen is supported by a working spouse who is not from the EU, the working spouse’s contributions to the Treasury are completely ignored.”

Unfortunately, despite having received a 5-year residence card for the UK, Michael is still facing problems whenever he returns from business trips abroad. He has been detained on three separate occasions at the UK border. It appears that the UK Border Force’s computers only flag up his first refusal without showing that his right to reside has now been recognised. The EU Rights Clinic will be writing to the Home Secretary to raise the matter.