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1. Dear Verena, the first thing is that once you are paying full National Insurance contribution, then as an EU citizen, you don't have the requirement to show Comprehensive Sickness Insurance or a European Health Insurance card from a different State of the EU, if you want to acquire British citizenship. Evidence of working and paying National Insurance Contributions is sufficient evidence that you are not a burden on the Host State's (UK) health scheme (NHS). So, you are a 'qualified' person if you want to acquire British citizenship.
2. There is no need to show you have private health insurance. This requirement to show Comprehensive Sickness Insurance via a policy of health insurance is only a requirement for self-sufficient people or students from other States of the EU. It does not apply to people working and paying National insurance.
3. It does not matter that earnings are below the taxable level so long as National Insurance is paid. This takes you into the category of 'worker' exercising Treaty Rights so you don't have to show a policy of private health insurance if you want to apply for citizenship or seek Indefinite Leave to Remain under the transitional Brexit arrangements which have just been published.
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5. Dear Verena, since 1st January, 2014, the UK introduced a concept of Minimum Net Earnings in determining whether a person was genuinely self-employed or not, when determining whether a person is a qualified person under EU Treaty law. The level of the Minimum Earnings Threshold, or “MET” is set at the earnings necessary to begin paying Class 1 National Insurance payments. Currently, for 2016/17, this is £155 per week or £8,112 per year.
6. However, 'back-paying' National Insurance contributions will not have the effect of improving your situation as you will still be viewed as someone under the Minimum Earnings Threshold. It is like it is for self-sufficient people, they cannot retroactively get private health insurance for a year to 'mend' their situation.
7. Be aware that this minimum Earnings Threshold is probably contrary to EU law and IT ONLY MEANS that an official will look again at your application. However, in practice, it means you need private health insurance for that year as you haven't paid National Insurance contributions.
8. Dear Verena, you can certainly argue the issue here because, as I have pointed out, the Minimum Earnings Threshold is probably contrary to EU law and it only means that your application is looked at again. However, the Home Office are simply looking to see were you not a burden on the NHS. Otherwise your year won't count for Immigration purposes. So, unless you had a European Health Insurance card or had some policy of health insurance you can point to, it is likely that this year won't count. I know that is not what you want to hear, but if you want to force the issue, this is one area which is ripe for litigation and you should certainly consider litigation if you ultimately need this year to count for the five years for Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence. However, it is an expensive way to do things unless you really need to fight your corner.
9. You are welcome. Best wishes.