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.