2,000 PEOPLE FROM OVER 100 COUNTRIES CONFERRED WITH IRISH CITIZENSHIP

Congratulations to the almost 2,000 people who were conferred with Irish citizenship at ceremonies in Co. Kerry on Monday 9th December 2019.

We especially wish to congratulate a number of our clients who have recently received positive naturalisation decisions.

The new citizens are originally from 103 different countries, with over a quarter originating from Poland and the United Kingdom.

The ceremonies took place at the Gleneagle INEC in Killarney and were presided over by retired High Court judge. The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, and Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, were also in attendance.

Such ceremonies had been placed on hold following the High Court ruling in the Jones case in July 2019 that anyone applying for citizenship could not spend a day outside Ireland in the 12 months before applying.

Last month the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, calling it “unduly rigid” and “unworkable”.

Minister Stanton described the ceremony as a major life event for the candidates, stating:

“Ultimately it’s about building a society where we all live in harmony while, at the same time, respecting our cultural and religious differences… The possibilities open to you in Ireland today are almost limitless. You are now beginning a new journey and a new phase in your life by becoming Irish citizens.”

Approximately 127,000 people have received Irish citizenship in the last 18 years. If you or a family member wish to discuss applying for naturalisation, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

 

 

RETROSPECTIVE AMENDMENT OF STAMP 2 A RESIDENCE PERMISSION TO STAMP 3 FOR SPOUSE OF PHD STUDENT, REPRESENTED BY BERKELEY SOLICITORS

Berkeley Solicitors has recently received a significant decision in which the Department of Justice and Equality has agreed to retrospectively amend Stamp 2A permission, incorrectly assigned to our client, to Stamp 3 immigration permission for a number of years.

Our client is the spouse of a PhD student here in Ireland. Our client was dependent on her husband and applied for a visa to Ireland.

She was initially issued Stamp 3 permission; however, she was then issued with stamp 2 A permission at all subsequent registrations.

Stamp 2 A is described as follows on the INIS website:

“Stamp 2 A indicates permission for full time study in Ireland for a course that is not on the official Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP), for a specified period. Stamp 2 A is not reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation.

You may be given Stamp 2A in the following circumstances:

  • Semester abroad (ie at an Irish university/college)
  • Study at a private secondary school in Ireland”

The issuing of stamp 2 A to our client was contrary to the Minister’s policy to issue stamp 3 permission to the spouses of PHD students. Stamp 2 A was at no time appropriate to her circumstance. She had never been a student in the State, and has always resided here as the dependent of her husband.

The wrongful issuing of stamp 2 A permission deprived our client of a number of years of reckonable residence, which she was entitled to by way of the Minister’s policy.

When the couple had a baby, they intended to make an application for an Irish passport. However, in order to obtain Irish citizenship for a child born in Ireland after 1st January 2005, the child’s foreign national parent must be legally resident in Ireland (this includes Northern Ireland) for 3 out of 4 years immediately before the child was born in Ireland.

As Stamp 2 is not reckonable as residence towards citizenship by birth, our clients’ baby was being deprived Irish citizenship because of the Minister’s error to issue stamp 2 A to our client.

Our office applied to the Minister to rectify this mistake by retrospectively amending our client’s previous permissions from stamp 2 A to stamp 3, based on the fact that a mistake was made on each occasion that a Stamp 2 A permission was issued to her.

A decision was recently issued to our clients which confirmed that her permission was retrospectively amended to the appropriate stamp 3 permission spanning over a number of years, thereby rendering the couple’s child eligible for Irish citizenship by birth.

We are delighted for our clients to have resolved their immigration difficulties.

We also think this is an extremely important and highly positive precedent for others who may have been issued the wrong residence permissions and confirms that, if appropriate, the Department of Justice and Equality can back date residence permission retrospectively.

If you or a family member are affected by the issuance of inappropriate immigration permission please do not hesitate to contact our office.

HIGH COURT DECISION ON 12 MONTH TIME LIMIT FOR REFUGEE FAMILY REUNIFICATION

On 29th October 2019,    Mr Justice Humphreys delivered his judgement in I.I (Nigeria) v Minister for Justice and Equality in relation to the 12-month time limit to apply for Family Reunification under Section 56(8) of the International Protection Act 2015. The high court judge found in favour of the State.

The case concerned an Applicant who, in October 2011, was left in the care of her maternal Aunt. The Child and Family Agency acted on the Applicant’s behalf at material times thereafter. The Applicant was subsequently granted refugee status on 25th September 2014 and applied for family reunification in respect of her mother, in July 2018. This was refused on 3rd December 2018.

The Applicant sought review of the refusal and a declaration that the 2015 International Protection Act is contrary to the Constitution, ECHR and EU law.

The Applicant argued they were unable to make a family reunification application in the four years previous as the whereabouts of her mother was unknown.

The judge held that the genuine inability of the Applicant’s Aunt or Child and Family Agency to contact the Applicant’s mother or family members within the statutory time limit of 12 months, from date refugee status was granted, for applications for family reunification was not satisfied.

The judgement highlighted that no application had been made under the non-EEA policy document nor had visas for the Applicant’s family been made- something which Judge Humphreys suggested might have achieved family reunification.

The Applicant argued that she carried the right to apply under s. 18(3) of the Refugee Act 1996 without any time limit and this right was carried forward beyond the repeal of the Refugee Act 1996 act in 2015.

Mr Justice Humphrey’s vehemently opposed this argument, stating that such an interpretation:

Para 13. “would deprive the concept of repeal of much of its meaning, creating intolerable uncertainty and giving the Refugee Act 1996 a ghostly after-life such that years or even decades after its repeal, it could violently jerk back into life without warning at the whim of an applicant such as this one.”

The judgement also highlighted that an application for family reunification could have been made within the time limit, on the basis that efforts and inquiries were being made to contact the relatives.

Notably, the court held that an alternative remedy could have been made under the non-statutory Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification 2015 or by applying for visas. [para 21]

Mr Humphrey’s opined that:

Para 23. “as there is a separate procedure which could potentially achieve the family reunification for the applicant’s relatives, particularly if the age of an applicant is a factor to be taken into account in that process. It would be an improvident use of the power to strike down legislation to embark on consideration of a challenge to that legislation where the applicant has not even applied under that separate procedure, let alone been refused.”

Mr Humphrey’s continued in Paragraph 25 affirming:

 “it is not a breach of any particular constitutional right to have a twelve-month time limit for family reunification or even to have a time limit that legal guardians must exercise on behalf of a person who is a minor at the time… The mere fact that a person has been admitted into the State for some purpose including international protection does not create a constitutional obligation on the State to admit any or all family members… does not generate a free-standing constitutional right on the part of others to enter the State which they did not otherwise possess. It is worth noting that… family reunification is encouraged by interested agencies but is not a legal obligation. Even if there is such a right, a generous twelve-month time limit is not disproportionate and thus no breach of substantive rights arises, and is well within the margin of appreciation of the Oireachtas.”

In this regard, Mr Justice Humphrey’s found that the window to apply for family reunification was not availed of and therefore dismissed the application.

The judgement places a significant obstacle against family reunification for refugees, and has an adverse impact on many people.

We understand this judgement is to be appealed to the Court of Appeal, and we will continue to post updates on the developments of this important appeal.

The full judgement can be read in full here

COURT OF APPEAL JUDGEMENT IN THE JONES CASE

The Court of Appeal have delivered their much-awaited judgement today in the case of Jones v Minister for Justice and Equality.

Applications for naturalisation have been on hold since a judgement from the High Court in July 2019. The High Court found that a person is not eligible for naturalisation as an Irish citizen, if he or she had left Ireland at all, even for one day, in the year prior to their application.

The High Court held that an absence of even one day breaks the applicant’s requirements to have one year “continuous residence” in the year immediately prior to the application.

In dealing with the High Court’s finding the Court of Appeal held that this was not a correct interpretation of Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended).

The Court of Appeal held as follows:

The High Court judge erred in law in interpretation of the term “continuous residence” provided by Section 15(1)(c ) of the 1956 Act. The construction is unworkable, overly literal, unduly rigid and gives rise to an absurdity. “Continuous residence” within the meaning of the sub-section does not require uninterrupted presence in the State throughout the entirety of the relevant year nor does it impose a complete prohibition on extra- territorial travel as the High Court suggests.”

The Court found that a person who took a trip to Newry for a number of hours would be ineligible to apply for naturalisation and found that this amounted to an “interpretive” absurdity.

The Court went on to consider the lawfulness of the Minister’s policy with regards to the impact of absences of over six weeks in the year prior to application.

The Court held that the legislative intention of Section 15(1)(c ) was to place a higher degree of importance on physical residence in the State in the year prior to application than in the previous years of reckonable residence. The Court found that there is a difference between “residence” /“ordinary residence” and “continuous residence”.

The Court did not agree with the appellants argument that a person is “continuously resident” in the year prior to application simply by virtue of living in Ireland and not being resident elsewhere. The court found that this would negate the substance of the requirement for “continuous residence” in the year prior to application.

The Court found that the Minister communicated in the decision under challenge in this case, “a clearly communicated practice or policy of allowing applicants six weeks absence from the state for work, or other reasons, and more in exceptional circumstances”.

The Court then went on to consider if this policy or practice was unduly harsh or if in the alternative it alleviated the protentional of a literal interpretation of Section 15(1)(c)’s requirement for “continuous residence”.

The Court held:

“The Minister has not adopted a rigid or inflexible policy in construing compliance with the first part of Section 15(1)(c). It is apparent that the objective of the Minister is to adopt a purposive, reasonable and pragmatic approach to the operation of that part of the sub-section”.

The Court further held that the operation of the minister’s “six-week policy” was for the benefit of applicants, in the interests of good administration and for consistency in decision making.

The Court found that the operation of the policy is not unlawful and does not create a “non-statutory barrier” to naturalisation. The Court found the Minister’s policy and practice was “sensible” and in line with the legislation. The Court found that the criteria of the Minister to establish “continuous residence” was reasonable and balanced and has regard to the societal norms regarding foreign travel.

On the basis of the above the Court held that the appellant did not have a year’s “continuous residence “in the State in the year immediately prior to application and was therefore the decision to refuse his application for naturalisation on this basis was not unlawful.

The Court’s judgement is to be welcomed as it has clarified what is required of an applicant to meet the “continuous residence requirement” in the year prior to application.

However, it is unfortunate for applicants, who were not in fact made aware of the Minister’s policy and practice in advance of making their applications.

To date there remains no published policy on the six-week rule or its operation.

We would submit that that policy should be freely accessible and easy to understand. There is no outline of what constitutes “exceptional circumstances”. There remains no guidance regarding absences from work, whether all are permitted or a certain portion.

It is arguable if a period of six weeks absence is in line with the reality for a lot of persons working in Ireland who are required to travel extensively for work. By way of comparison absences of 90 days are permitted by statute in the United Kingdom.

It remains to be seen if the Minister will continue to enact much needed legislation in this area.

 

 

 

THE PROBLEM WITH STAMP 3 IMMIGRATION PERMISSION

Persons on Stamp 3 immigration permission are restricted from taking up employment or working in Ireland.

Our office has met many clients whose lives are severely negatively impacted by holding Stamp 3 permission.

Many adults, who wish to work and integrate into Ireland are prevented from doing so unless their area of expertise or work experience leaves the option of an employment permit open to them. Even then obtaining a work permit is not always possible. The vast majority of occupations are ineligible for employment permits.

Many people holding Stamp 3 have been offered secure employment but have been unable to take up their employment offers due to the restrictions placed on them by their immigration status.

We submit that to put adults, who are able and willing to work in this position is unnecessary and cruel.

It prevents individuals from getting to know people in Ireland and fully integrate. Employment gives people confidence and a sense of purpose. Being unable to work negatively impacts on a person’s mental well being. A large part of a person’s self-worth and sense of being is derived from their employment.

We submit that the Minister should promote the ideals of employment and self-sufficiency and should not leave adults who are able to work in such a position. Persons on Stamp 3 are required to remain dependent on family members well into their adulthood.

Young adults are most affected by the issuance of Stamp 3 permission at an extremely important and formative part of their lives. Our office is even aware of adults with children of their own being issued Stamp 3 permission to reside, leaving them unable to support themselves or their own families.

We submit that allowing persons to work serves in the best interests of the state as it will allow persons to contribute to the economy and promotes integration and the building of communities.

We submit that there is no risk to state resources, funding or expenditure in the granting of Stamp 4/ Stamp 1 without the need for a work permit to persons currently resident on Stamp 3 as the Minister can make it a condition of a person’s immigration permission that they cannot access State supports.

The absolute prohibition on work was found to be unlawful in respect of persons seeking asylum in Ireland in the case of  of N.V.H. v Minister for Justice and Equality and ors [2017] IESC 35 in which it was held that the ability to engage in work is connected to the dignity of the human person and that prohibiting a non-citizen, in this particular case an asylum seeker, from seeking employment is therefore contrary to the Constitution. We submit that the same reasoning should apply to individuals currently on Stamp 3 permission in the State.

We highlight in particular the Court’s judgment at paragraphs 15-17 in which it is stated:

“15…Much work is drudgery, often the subject of complaint rather than celebration, and most often an economic necessity as a means to live a chosen life rather than an end in itself. However even approaching the matter with a healthy dose of skepticism, it must be recognised that work is connected to the dignity and freedom of the individual which the Preamble tells us the Constitution seeks to promote.

Persons on Stamp 3 permission are not eligible to take up employment in the State until if and when he or she naturalises as an Irish citizen- given the current processing times this could amount to anywhere from 5 to 6 years if not more.

We submit that the restriction on work created by Stamp 3 immigration permission is unnecessary and unreasonable.

If you or a family member are affected by Stamp 3 immigration permission please do not hesitate to contact our office.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO IRISH EMPLOYMENT PERMIT SYSTEM

The general scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 has been published.

This is the result of a review conducted last year by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation on economic migration policy review, which found inflexibilities in the current employment permit system.

The current system is governed by the existing Employment Permit Acts 2003-2014.

Speaking about the proposals, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, has said:

“The proposed legislation will increase the agility and responsiveness of Ireland’s economic migration system to meet skills and labour needs, while continuing to safeguard the labour market and support the employment rights of permit holders. I want to modernise the system and ensure that it is capable of adapting to changes in the future as well as fluctuations in demand across the economic cycle.”

The aim of the Bill is to consolidate existing legislation, as the Government believes any further amendment to the existing Employment Permit Acts 2003-2014 would significantly increase the complexity of the current system.

Major changes proposed by the Bill including streamlining the processes for ‘trusted partner’ and renewal applications, and making the system more agile and easier to modify to meet changing economic circumstances, technological advances and process changes as they arise.

Another proposal is to modify the ‘50:50 rule’, which currently requires that 50% of an employer’s staff be EEA nationals before an Irish employment permit may be granted, allowing it be waived in cases where the permit holder would be the sole employee. However, this change is subject to the employer demonstrating that they have made efforts to recruit from within Ireland and across the EEA in the first instance. The 50:50 requirement would resume from the point at which a second employee is contracted.

The Bill also proposes the introduction of new categories of employment permit, namely a Seasonal Irish Employment Permit and a Special Circumstances Employment Permit.

The Seasonal Irish Employment Permit would cater toward those working in the short-stay and recurrent employment sectors. Ireland is an outlier in not offering this type of permit, which would allow individuals to come to the State to work in sectors such tourism, farming and horticulture on a short-term basis.

The Special Circumstances Employment Permit would allow for bilateral, reciprocal agreements between Ireland and other States and could be used, for example, to address a need for a niche, but critically important skillset, for which no formal training is available in Ireland.

The proposals also include an extensive revision of the Labour Market Needs Test, the requirement whereby employers need to firstly advertise vacancies within Ireland and across the EEA.

Ms Humphreys has said:

“The overhaul [of the Labour Market Needs Test] will make it more relevant, efficient, and modernised to reflect current advertising practices. It will also ensure that the test is more targeted and effective in reaching Irish and European jobseekers in the first instance.”

The primary aim of Irish government policy when it comes to the labour market is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills from within Ireland, the EU and other EEA States first and from there look at alternatives from further afield. Permits for highly skilled personnel from outside the EEA can be granted where the requisite skills cannot be met by normal recruitment or training.

The aim of the proposed changes, according to Ms Humphreys, is to enhance accessibility and improve the transparency of the employment permit process while “retaining the core focus of a vacancy led employment permits system focused on meeting the skills and labour needs in the State.”

At present, these proposals are at a very early stage and are subject to change as the Bill moves through the legislative process.

The full text of the general scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 can be found here.

 

 

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR APPEAL ON A DECISION CONCERNING THE DEFINITION OF “CHILD” IN FAMILY REUNIFICATION LAW

The Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal from the State over the definition of “child” as referred to in the International Protection Act 2015.

Section 56 the 2015 International Protection Act sets down the procedure for refugees and the holders of subsidiary protection to make an application for family reunification.

The State’s appeal specifically concerns Section 56.9(d) which provides as follows:

“(9) In this section… “member of a family” means in relation to the sponsor-

(d) a child of the sponsor who, on the date of the application under subsection 1 is under the age of 18 years and is not married.”

In 2018, Mr Justice Barrett ruled that non-biological or adopted children are eligible for family reunification. Delivered in May, the High Court decision involved ‘Mr X’ who held subsidiary protection in Ireland and subsequently applied for family reunification for a 14-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl to whom he was the sole guardian of.

After refusing to undertake a DNA test, as requested by the Minister, the application was refused in 2017. Mr X made a second application which was also refused and therefore brought judicial review proceedings with the aim of quashing the Minister’s refusal.

In his decision, Mr Justice Barrett acknowledged that “there is a “wide diversity” of familial structures and the 2015 Act does not exclude non-biological relationships. He further found that a “cookie cutter” definition of children which only recognised biological children, “would doubtless be easier for the State to police…but it is not what the Act provides”. Mr Justice Barrett’s decision acknowledged that it is not always a straightforward task in defining who is a child of someone. He therefore directed the Minister for reconsideration of the matter.

Chief Justice Frank Clarke, Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley and Ms Justice Mary Irvine have accepted a “leapfrog” appeal by the Minister and State against the High Court decision. This means that the State’s appeal will bypass the Court of Appeal and be directly heard by the Supreme Court.

The judges have emphasised that the definition of “child” in relation to the 2015 Act has the potential to relate to any case regarding non-biological minors who are claimed to be the child of person who has international protection.

The question as to which minors may benefit from family reunification is “a matter of general public importance”, they have underscored.

A hearing date for the appeal has not yet been fixed.

 

RECENT CJEU JUDGEMENT FINDS THAT INCOME OBTAINED FROM UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT CAN BE USED AS PROOF OF SUFFICIENT RESOURCES

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recently ruled in Bajratari v SSHD (Case 93/18) that there are no requirements with regards to the source of income in providing evidence of self-sufficiency. It further held that a child is to be considered self-sufficient and not to be a burden on social welfare system of a host State where they are supported by the unlawful employment earnings of a third country national parent.

The case specifically concerned Article 7(1)(b) of Directive 2004/38 which provides two criterion for a Union citizen’s right of residence in a host Member State for a period of over three months.

(i) having sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the host state’s social assistance system;

(ii) comprehensive medical insurance.

The decision involved the right of an Albanian Applicant, Ms Bajratari, to reside in Northern Ireland in the capacity of the primary carer of two minor Union citizens, who had obtained certificates of Irish nationality. Ms Bajratari’s husband, and father of the minor EU citizens, had been working in Ireland without a residence card or permit, the former which expired in 2014. This income is the only available financial resources to the family.

After the birth of the couple’s first child in September 2013, Ms Bajratari applied for recognition of a derived right of residence under the Directive.

The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland referenced Alokpa (Case C-86/12) where the CJEU had previously held in paragraph 27:

“the expression ‘have’ sufficient resources in a provision similar to Article 7(1)(b) of Directive 2004/38 must be interpreted as meaning that it suffices that such resources are available to the Union citizens and that that provision lays down no requirement whatsoever as to their origin…”.

However, the decision did not specifically address the issue of unlawful employment and therefore the application was rejected.

The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland referred two main questions to the CJEU:

  1. Can income from employment that is unlawful under national law establish, in whole or in part, the availability of sufficient resources under Article 7(1)(b) of [Directive 2004/38/EC]?
  2. If “yes”, can Article 7(1)(b) [of the Directive] be satisfied where the employment is deemed precarious solely by reason of its unlawful character? [para 17]

The CJEU affirmed that Ms Bajratari’s right to reside was subject to limitations including the condition of having sufficient resources not to become a burden on the social welfare system. [para 28 – 29]

However, the court held that this condition did not contain a requirement as to where these financial resources originated from and therefore does not exclude income derived from the third country national parent’s unlawful employment.

The court confirmed that in such situations there is a greater risk that the minor Union citizen will be dependent on the social assistance system, given the greater risk at losing this income. Nevertheless, the Directive contains provisions allowing the State to act in such situations to protect the social assistance system. Therefore, the CJEU found that excluding unlawful employment would lead to:

Para 42: “a further requirement relating to the origin of the resources provided by that parent, which would constitute a disproportionate interference with the exercise of the Union citizen minor’s fundamental rights of free movement and of residence under Article 21 TFEU, in so far as that requirement is not necessary for the achievement of the objective pursued”.

CJEU noted that Mr Bajratari had paid tax and social security contributions on his income even after his residence card expired.

Excluding unlawful employment income from meeting the social assistance requirement, in a situation where the family have been able to provide for themselves for ten years without relying on the social welfare system goes manifestly “beyond what is necessary in order to protect the public finances of that member state”. [para 46]

The court rejected the UK government’s argument that a restriction of the free movement rights of the couple’s children was justified on the grounds of public policy. [para 52]

In conclusion, Mr Bajratari’s employment was held to be satisfactory under the concept of sufficient resources despite it being unlawful. This is a very positive decision from the CJEU, one which highlights the interdependence between the right to work and the right to reside.

A third country national parent must have a right of residence to obtain a work permit. Yet often require the right to work in order for their EU citizen child to fulfil the conditions under the Directive to reside in the host state. Therefore, the exclusion of income derived from unlawful employment would inherently reduce the family’s chance of acquiring the right to reside in the host state.

The CJEU has underscored and promoted the rights of Union citizens in this decision.

The judgement can be read in full here

 

 

INIS RELEASES 2018 ANNUAL REPORT: “IMMIGRATION IN IRELAND STATISTICS”

On the 26th September 2019, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice released its annual report for the year 2018 detailing immigration trends in Ireland through statistics.

In the report, INIS found that there was a total of 140,533 visa applications in 2018. The report further clarifies that in 2018, 121,220 persons received positive visa decisions from INIS in 2018 while 16,568 received a negative decision.

This annual release has once again highlighted the concerning increase in refusals of leave to land. INIS reports that 4797 persons were refused leave to land in the State meaning individuals were refused entry at the airport/border. This is an increase from the 3,746 persons refused entry into the state in 2017.

This is a very large number of persons refused leave to land with the top countries to have people rejected being:

  • Albania (622)
  • Brazil (524)
  • South Africa (359)
  • United States of America (232)

Leave to land is governed by Section 4 of the Immigration Act 2004 (as amended) which provides for limited and specific circumstances to which persons can be refused leave to land. Under Section 4(3), an immigration officer retains a right to refuse permission to a non-national where they are satisfied:

“(a) that the non-national is not in a position to support himself or herself and any accompanying dependents;

(b) that the non-national intends to take up employment in the State, but is not in possession of a valid employment permit

(c) that a non-national suffers from a condition set out in first schedule

(d) that the non-national has been convicted of an offence that may be punished under the law of the place of conviction by imprisonment for a period of one year or by a more severe penalty

(e) that a non-national, not being exempt, is not the holder of a valid Irish visa;

(f) that the non-national is the subject of- (i) a deportation order, (ii) an exclusion order or (iii) a determination by the minister that it is conducive to the public good that he or she remain outside the State;

(g) that the non-national is not in possession of a valid passport or other equivalent document, issued by or on behalf of an authority recognised by the Government, which establishes his or her identity and nationality;

(h) that the non-national- (i) intends to travel (whether immediately or not) to Great Britain or Northern Ireland and (ii) would not qualify for admission to Great Britain or Northern Ireland if he or she arrived there from a place other than the State;

(i) that the non-national, having arrived in the State in the course of employment as a seaman, has remained in the State without the leave of an immigration officer after the departure of the ship in which he or she so arrived;

(j) that the non-national’s entry into, or presence in, the State could pose a threat to national security or be contrary to public policy;

(k) that there is reason to believe that the non-national intends to enter the State for purposes other than those expressed by the non-national”.

There remain serious deficiencies in our immigration system with respect to fairness and the right to have legal representation as a person presenting at the Irish border requesting leave to land.

The absence of legal representation is especially concerning given the seriousness of the decision being made. Refusals of leave to land remains a serious incident in a person’s immigration history. It must be declared for all future visa applications and may be negatively considered in any future immigration matter. Needless to say, being refused leave to enter Ireland at the border can be extremely distressing and traumatising for individuals and in some cases has resulted in persons being detained in Irish prisons!

The increase in the number of persons refused leave to land may be unsurprising given that in 2017, INIS highlighted that enhancing border security was a priority stating that amendments to immigration over last number of years “will allow for arresting, detaining and removing non-nationals who are subject to a deportation order and people who are refused leave to land”, however it is no less alarming.

Although specific, the potentially very wide-ranging power of immigration officers must be exercised in a cautious and restricted manner. Unfortunately, it appears that leave to land refusals are continuing to increase.

As of the 31st December 2018, 142,924 individuals had permission to remain in the State with 2757 being under 18. The Residence Division of INIS received over 14,600 such applications in 2017.

In 2018 there were over 5200 EU Treaty Rights Applications made. The report shed light into trends relating to EU Treaty Rights Reviews stating that 1092 review applications were submitted in 2018 with 134 review cases being granted.

The report also addressed citizenship applications confirming that, similar to the 2017 figures, 8225 persons received Citizenship Certificates in 2018, with 1183 of those being minors.

Of the 984 Family Reunification applications received in 2018, 527 were Syrian nationals. However, only 211 applications were determined favourably with just 133 minors at time of decision receiving positive decisions.

 

The 2018 Annual INIS Report can be read in full here.

 

IMPORTANT JUDGEMENT RELATING TO PERMITTED FAMILY MEMBERS IN EU TREATY RIGHTS APPLICATIONS: AF AND AF V THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY

Berkeley Solicitors is happy to announce that our clients have obtained a successful decision from the High Court in relation to permitted family members in EU Treaty Rights applications pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. Mr Justice Barrett delivered this important judgement on the 26th September 2019.

We believe that this judgment will have an extremely positive impact on permitted family members for such applications.

The case concerned two applicant brothers- ‘Brother A’, a British citizen resident in Ireland for employment purposes and ‘Brother B’, the dependent of Brother A and a Pakistani citizen living in Ireland as a student since 2014.

The High Court found that the Minister’s refusal of the application for an EU residence card for the dependent brother was unreasonable and to some extent irrational, and therefore quashed the Minister’s decision.

The court accepted the applicant’s arguments that Brother B’s country of previous residence is Ireland, contrary to the Minister’s argument that the country of previous residence was Pakistan.

Relying on Rahman, the court reaffirmed that the phrase “in the country from which the person has come” in relation to permitted family members, as appears in both the Directive and the 2015 Regulations, refers to the State he was resident in when he applied to join the Union citizen.

At paragraphs 7 and 8, the court states that:

Although visa applications are typically made outside Ireland, in this instance, Brother B had permission in his own right to reside in Ireland as a student on the date the application was made and therefore the Minister was mistaken in maintaining that Pakistan was the country Brother B came from.

The court further clarified that even in the case of (incorrectly) considering Pakistan as the country from which Brother B had come, Brother A’s actions with respect to housing and financing Brother A’s education in Ireland would remain relevant insofar he was consistently supporting by his brother to the point of dependency.

Mr Justice Barrett specifically addressed the nature of evidence provided in support of EU Treaty Rights Applications referring to the statements made by the applicants. He reaffirmed that when applicants make/sign the declaration for the completion of the EU1A form, certain weight is afforded to the evidence provided in and with the application.

Mr Justice Barrett took a fair and reasonable approach to the provision of documents maintaining that very few people can produce/receive or retain documentation with regards to every aspect of their lives, even in the case of the most important aspects of one’s life.

The Judge remarked that in reality there is a limit to what one applicant can produce in terms of documents.

Mr Justice Barrett went on to provide a summary of the concept for dependency confirming that it means:

15. “that members of the family of a community national… need the material support of that Community national… in order to meet their essential needs in the State of origin of those family members or the State from which they have come at the time when they apply to join the Community national”.

Referencing Kuhn and Ors, Mr Justice Barrett echoed that material support includes financial contribution but does not require that the entirety of the cost of essential needs be covered by person providing support.

This judgement advocates, in light of Article 3(2) of the Citizen’s Right Directive, for a relatively generous test as to what constitutes dependency.

A point that the court felt important to note, was that in a situation where material support is not provided directly to the dependent but to others, the dependent is not precluded from being described as such because dependent relationships can include both direct dependency and/or vicarious dependency.

Specifically addressing the issue of dependency in Pakistan, in paragraph 23, Mr Justice Barrett found the Minister’s assertion that the applicants had not provided evidence that without the small cash transfers, Brother B would not have been able to support himself in Pakistan was unreasonable.

Highlighting that Brother B was unemployed in Pakistan and therefore clearly dependent on someone for his income, the High Court was unable to see in this regard:

23(ii). “how Brother B could prove that if he was not in the position that he found himself to be in, he would still not have been able to support himself; how could he possible demonstrate that?”.

In conclusion, the court granted an order of certiorari which means that the Minister’s refusal of the application as a result of the court’s findings is withdrawn and that the application be reconsidered by the minister.

We believe that this judgement will have a positive effect for other applicants who are permitted family members and awaiting the outcome of their EU residence card applications.

The full judgement will be posted here shortly.