Maria’s Story | “CSI is threatening my right to care for my parents in the UK”

“I first arrived in the UK in 1994. I never applied for citizenship; as a European citizen, I never felt the need to. In 2008, I got married to my British husband and had a child here. When he got offered a job in the Middle East, the opportunity was amazing for my husband’s career, so we moved abroad for 7 years.

In 2016, we came back to the UK and because my child was little, for a year, I took a year off working and took care of my son. I’d never heard of Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) and didn’t know how this would affect my application for British citizenship and my family reunion rights later on.

After the referendum, it was a very sad and stressful time. I knew things would become more difficult for EU citizens, but I couldn’t apply for permanent residency because I’d been out of the country for 7 years.

I applied and got pre-settled status in 2019. I also started working, supporting children with special educational needs. I took a career break in 2020, for a year, to take care of my child. I’m now back at work but I’m worried about the two years when I was self-sufficient and didn’t have CSI.

My parents are getting older and I’d like to care for them. If I apply for British citizenship a year after I get settled status, I will face the risk of losing my right to sponsor my parents and care for them in the UK.

I’ve lived more of my life in the UK than I did in Spain. I’m really worried that I could be in the situation of not being able to care for my parents. My husband receives job offers from abroad and if we want to move for a while, it becomes very tricky. It’s a very difficult decision to make, having to work around rules about absences. It’s limiting our life choices.

I’ve been paying taxes in this country since 1994, and despite this, I have to live with uncertainty and being treated as if this is not my home. I often wonder what’s going to happen to my future.

It would be a huge relief for me and my family if the CSI requirement were scrapped. I hope the Government recognises the uncertainty and anxiety it’s causing and does the right thing by people like me who contribute to this country and should be treated equally.”

Maria is a Spanish citizen living in Surrey, working as a college teacher