New Clause 3 - Acquisition of British citizenship by birth or adoption: comprehensive sickness insurance

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 4 November 2021.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 12:15, 4 November 2021

I thank the hon. Members for tabling the new clause, which relates to the requirement, in certain circumstances, for EEA nationals to have had comprehensive sickness insurance to have been residing lawfully in the UK. Regulations set out the requirements that EEA nationals needed to follow if they wished to reside here lawfully on the basis of free movement. In the case of students or the self-sufficient, but not those who were working here, the possession of CSI has always been a requirement.

The first part of the new clause would create an entitlement for a child to register as a British citizen if their parent would have been settled but for the fact that they did not have CSI. It also suggests that such an application should be free of charge. The position of children born in the UK when their parents were not settled is not unique to EEA nationals. There will be families who were not settled in the UK at the time of their child’s birth for a variety of reasons, and it would not be right to single out the children of non-settled EEA nationals without CSI for a specific and free route.

There are already routes for children who do not become British automatically. For example, parents who did not qualify for permanent residence could still apply for settled status under the EU settlement scheme, and they did not need CSI to do so. Once they were settled in the UK, they could apply to register their child who was born in the UK before 1 July 2021 as a British citizen.

We have some sympathy for EEA nationals who claim they did not realise that they needed to have CSI to live lawfully in the UK, which is why we introduced guidance for naturalisation caseworkers to explain that discretion can be exercised over the lawful residence requirements if a person did not meet an additional or implicit condition of stay—as opposed to an explicit condition such as illegal entry or overstaying—under EEA free movement regulations. I am not aware of any application for British citizenship being declined purely because of the CSI requirement under EEA free movement regulations.