CLIENT OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS RECENTLY HAD THEIR STAMP 0 PERMISSION ACCEPTED AS RECKONABLE RESIDENCE FOR NATURALISATION

Berkeley Solicitors recently received a very successful and significant decision in which our client was granted naturalisation having been on Stamp 0 for a period of over five years preceding the application.

This is an exceptional decision given the Department’s suggestions that stamp 0 residence permission is a low-level immigration status which is not intended to be reckonable for Citizenship and is granted for a limited and specific stay in Ireland.

The INIS website clarifies that:

“Stamp 0 indicates permission to stay in Ireland for a temporary period, subject to conditions.

Summary of conditions:

You must be of independent means, ie fully financially self-sufficient. Alternatively, your sponsor in Ireland must be of independent means and can support you fully.

You cannot receive any benefits or use publicly funded services, eg be treated at a public hospital. You must have private medical insurance.

You must not work or engage in any business, trade or profession unless specified in a letter of permission from INIS.”

There are three main types of persons eligible for Stamp 0:

  1. Elderly dependent relatives
  2. Persons of independent means (financial threshold is considered in an around 50,000 with access to a lump sum of money in the event of unforeseen major expenses).
  3. Visiting academics working here for less than nine months.

Our client met all the conditions of Stamp 0 permission. Stamp 0 permission means that a person cannot work in the State, engage in self-employment, access State benefits or rely on State resources. Therefore, an individual on Stamp 0 must be wholly and totally self-sufficient or dependent. The individual is also required to reside continuously in the State.

Reckonable residence is the duration of a person’s residence when assessing an application for naturalisation.

This is the first case we are aware of where Stamp 0 has been accepted as reckonable residence for the purpose of naturalising.

Although acquiring citizenship is a privilege and not a right and is subject to the Minister’s absolute discretion, the Minister must act within the confines of the statutory definition of reckonable residence as defined at Section 16 A of the the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

This is a very hopeful outcome for individuals who are resident on stamp 0 permission, and they have made Ireland their permanent home but have concerns regarding their reckonable residence in the State for the purposes of naturalization.

We at Berkeley Solicitors welcome this very encouraging development surrounding reckonable residence and are happy to advise any clients wishing to pursue their naturalization application.

COURT OF APPEAL JUDGMENT ON MEMBERSHIP OF THE SAME HOUSEHOLD IN EU TREATY RIGHTS CASES

On the 19th December 2019, the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in the case of Subhan and Ali v the Minister for Justice and Equality, in which Berkeley Solicitors acted for the Applicants.

The decision is significant for family members of EU citizens who have applications, or are considering making applications, for visas or residence cards based on the fact that they are members of the same household of an EU citizen family member under Directive 2004/38/EC on the Right of Citizens of the Union and Their Family Members to Move and Reside Freely Within the Territory of the Member States, (‘the Citizens Directive’).

The case concerned the refusal of an EU Fam residence card to the cousin of a British citizen, who had lived as the member of his household for many years in the United Kingdom prior to moving to Ireland.

The central issue before the Court of Appeal was the meaning of the term ‘household of the Union Citizen’  for the purposes of the Citizens’ Directive.

The Applicants argued that the household of the Union citizen consists of those persons who are family members and who reside in the same dwelling as the Union citizen. The Respondent argued that what is to be established is that the household concerned is that of the Union citizen, and that the centrality of the Union citizen in the family living arrangements is to be assessed.

The Applicants also put forward submissions regarding other language versions of the term ‘membership of the same household’ and found that there was no ‘head of the household’  test in those versions.

Ms Justice Baker ultimately upheld the decision of the High Court in finding that the criterion of ‘membership of the same household’ is not simply established where family members live under the same roof. Rather, members of the household of the Union citizen must be those persons who are some way central to the family life of the Union citizen.

The Court held:

“68. It may be more useful to consider the notion of household by reference to what it is not. Persons living under the same roof are not necessarily members of the same household and they may well be what we colloquially call housemates. An element of sharing that is necessary in a household may well be met in that the persons living together may agree on a distribution of household tasks and a proportionate contribution towards household expenses. But because, for the purpose of the Citizens Directive, one must focus on the living arrangements of the Union citizen, the members of the household of the Union citizen must, on the facts, be persons who are in some way central to his or her family life, that those family members are an integral part of the core family life of the Union citizen, and are envisaged to continue to be such for the foreseeable or reasonably foreseeable future. The defining characteristic is that the members of the group intend co-living arrangement to continue indefinitely, that the link has become the norm and is envisaged as ongoing and is part of the fabric of the personal life of each of them.

69. It is not a test of with whom the Union citizen would choose to live, but rather, with whom he or she expects to be permitted or facilitated to live in order that his or her family unit would continue in being, and the loss of whom in the family unit is a material factor that might impede the Union citizen choosing to or being able to exercise free movement rights. That second element, it seems to me, properly reflects the core principle intended to be protected by the Citizens Directive.

70. It may be dangerous to give an example, and I do so by way of illustration only. A family member who had resided in the same house as a Union citizen for many years before free movement rights were exercised might well have become a member of the family with whom there has developed a degree of emotional closeness such that the person is integral to the family life of the Union citizen. That person could be a member of a household because the living arrangements display connecting factors that might, in an individual case, be termed a “household”. If the rights of free movement of a Union citizen within the group are likely to be impaired by the fact of that living arrangement, whether for reasons of the moral duty owed to the other members of the group or otherwise, then the rights under the Citizens Directive fall for consideration.”

The Court found that the EU Citizen’s Free Movement rights where not impeded or restricted by refusing a right of residence to his family member in this case.

The full judgment has been published on the website of the courts and can be found here.

FURTHER DECISION ISSUED IN WHICH MINISTER RETROSPECTIVELY AMENDS STAMP 2 A PERMISSION TO STAMP 3 FOR SPOUSE OF PHD STUDENT

Berkeley Solicitors has received a second decision within two months 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 spanning over a period of two years.

In November 2019, we posted a blog on this issue which can be read in full here.

Our client is the spouse of a PhD student in Ireland and prior to being issued with Stamp 2 A, our client held Stamp 3 permission for a number of years.

Our client was never provided with an explanation for the change in permission nor was she provided with any information regarding the impact or consequences of this change of status.

Given that it is the practice for the Minister to issue Stamp 3 permission to Spouses of PhD Students, the significant decision to retrospectively amend our client’s permission is particularly encouraging.

We highlight that this decision provides our client with further years of reckonable residence, which she was deprived of through the wrongful issuance of Stamp 2 A. Our client is now able to proceed with an application for naturalisation.

We are delighted to see requests for the retrospective amendment of a person’s registration or permission being facilitated and it has become clear to us that this it is entirely possible for the Minister to issue such decisions where appropriate.

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

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.