Our Greek board member explains how he was denied British citizenship after 20 years in UK.

My name is Michael Arapis and I am an EEA/EU Citizen from Greece. I studied for my Law degree and my two Masters (in Law) in Wales where I live permanently since 2002. This is my adoptive country and I would like for several years to apply for UK Citizenship. I fulfil all the criteria, i.e. English language, residency and Life in the UK test. Moreover I was granted Settled Status (Indefinite Leave to Remain) in August 2019. The only obstacle to my application has been the dreadful Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) that like so many hundreds of thousands of EU Citizens was not aware about. 

The notion of the CSI is a rather unreasonable and confusing requirement since most people assume that they are being covered from the services of their GP and do not know that private insurance is required as well. Had I known about CSI I would have happily paid for private healthcare insurance earlier (as I did when I found out about it). Moreover, it is extremely unfair that it is specifically targeted to full time students and self-sufficient persons. Especially students in essence are being penalised for studying and paying tuition fees.

Thus because I was unaware of this while I was studying for my first Masters in the academic year 2015- 2016, I was unable to apply under the previous system, which required firstly to apply for the Permanent Residence Card (PRC) and subsequently for UK citizenship, several years ago.

When eventually the Settled Status Scheme was introduced in 2018, I was relieved because I reasonably believed that I would finally be able to apply for the UK Citizenship a year after the date I obtained Settled Status, so in August 2020. Unfortunately I was shocked and devastated when the issue of CSI resurfaced as a requirement for the application for UK Citizenship (despite having Settled Status) on the 15th of May 2020. Thus the fact that Settled Status is rendered in effect of lower significance compared to the PRC is worrying. I feel extremely distressed that after 19 years of uninterrupted lawful residence in the UK I cannot apply for Citizenship due to an obscure requirement, which I was not aware of, while I was in full-time education many years ago. 

Now that the UK is a third country to the EU, it is a perfect time for a fair, just and reasonable solution to be found so that this unfair requirement from the EU era is abolished and hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens would be allowed to apply and obtain UK Citizenship.

By Michael Arapis

Michael is a lawyer and has worked for leading law firms in Cardiff. He is a frequent speaker on major Greek TV networks and radio stations and is also an experienced interpreter and public relations advisor. 

“I am proud to be part of New Europeans UK. As a campaigner and EU Citizen it is very important for me to fight for the rights of EU Citizens in the UK and the UK Citizens in the EU.” 

He is a Governor of St Mary The Virgin, Church In Wales, Primary School in his ward Butetown-Cardiff Bay. Michael is the Vice-President and Public Relations Officer of the Greek Orthodox Community of Cardiff and South Wales. He is the Chair of New Europeans in Wales.