Tag Archive for: D join family visa applications

CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS GRANTED LEAVE TO APPEAL TO THE SUPREME COURT

CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS GRANTED LEAVE TO APPEAL TO THE SUPREME COURT

Clients of Berkeley Solicitors have received a positive determination granting leave to appeal to the Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal decision FSH and Others v Minister for Justice [2024] IECA 44.

The case concerns a Somali woman residing in Ireland by way of family reunification under S.18(4) of the Refugee Act 1996.

The applicant subsequently applied for her minor children to join her in the State pursuant to the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification, and in particular paragraph 1.12 which states as follows:

“While this document sets down guidelines for the processing of cases, it is intended that decision makers will retain the discretion to grant family reunification in cases that on the face of it do not appear to meet the requirements of the policy. This is to allow the system to deal with those rare cases that present an exceptional set of circumstances, normally humanitarian, that would suggest that the appropriate and proportionate decision should be positive.”

The visa applications were refused.

The applicant subsequently challenged the decision to refuse her application by way of Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court. The Court quashed the Minister’s decision to refuse the visa applications for the four minor applicants.

This judgement was subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeal, and the judgement of the High Court was overturned.

The applicant applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court for an order quashing the order of the Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court found that the case does raise matters of general public importance and granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found as follows:

“The Court is of the opinion that the proposed appeal does raise matters of general public importance relating to the operation of the Minister’s policy on Non-EEA Family Reunification, and in particular, the precise nature of the exceptional circumstances test, how that test is to be applied and the standard of review to be applied when decisions made by the Minister pursuant to the policy are challenged by way of judicial review. These issues may arise in a number of other cases, and it is in the public interest to obtain further clarity, particularly given the conflicting approaches in the High Court and the Court below.”

We are grateful the appeal has been accepted and that a Supreme Court judgement will soon bring clarity to the exceptional circumstances test.

UPDATES TO THE APPPLICATION PROCESS FOR IRISH TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

The Department of Justice have recently updated the application process for Irish Travel Documents. To make the process more seamless, applications for Irish travel documents have been moved online. Applicants can access the form through the ISD portal.

They advise that applicants use the online application process, this allows the form, copy documents and fee of €55 to be submitted online.

However, applicants are still required to post an original Identity Verification Form (signed in the presence of a guard), passport photographs and Passport/ Travel Document (if applicable) to the Travel Document Section to the Travel Document Section in Dublin.

Please see below guidance note as it elaborates on what documents need to be submitted for each category of application:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/travel/Travel-Document-Applications-Documents-Reference-Guide.pdf

This blog has been drafted with reference to the following website:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/travel/Travel-Document-Applications-Documents-Reference-Guide.pdf

For further details on Irish travel documents please visit the following link:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/coming-to-join-family-in-ireland/applying-for-a-travel-document/

Berkeley Solicitors are available to provide support and assistance to people looking to apply for an Irish Travel Document.

This blog article has been prepared on the basis of current immigration law and policy, which is subject to change. Please keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page where articles relating to updates and changes in immigration law and policy are posted regularly.

 

 

 

CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS WIN THEIR CASE BEFORE THE HIGH COURT IN H AND ORS V MINISTER FOR JUSTICE 2022 No 553 JR

CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS WIN THEIR CASE BEFORE THE HIGH COURT IN H AND ORS V MINISTER FOR JUSTICE 2022 No 553 JR

Berkeley Solicitors would like to congratulate our client who was successful in her proceedings today.
The applicant is a Somali woman who issued proceedings to challenge the decision of the Minister of Justice refusing long stay visas for her four minor children to join her in Ireland.

The case was brought by way of Judicial Review and was heard by Mr Justice Barr.

In issuing his judgment, Mr Justice Barr found that the key issue in this case was the exceptional humanitarian circumstances that were at play. Justice Barr found that ‘there was no evidence that the decision maker engaged in any real way’ with such factors. Justice Barr submitted throughout his judgment that the respondent failed to take into account ‘the very significant personal dilemma that faced by (the applicant) at the time’ as well as the state of deep political and social unrest faced by citizens in Somalia.

The case concerned a Somali woman who had fled to Ireland to join her sister by way of family reunification under S.18(4) of the Refugee Act 1996. The applicant subsequently applied for her minor children to join her in the State pursuant to the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification, however her application, and appeal on this decision were refused.

The respondent submitted there was insufficient evidence to corroborate a familial link between the mother and the minor applicants, stating that in entering Ireland:

‘she relinquished her role as the primary caregiver, with the knowledge that the Family Reunification appeal may be refused.’

Mr Justice Barr submitted that such a finding by the Minister was harsh, unfair and irrational.

The respondents further submitted that the applicant was not an eligible sponsor for the visa applications for her children as she had not resided for longer than one year in the State as required by paragraph 16.4 of the Policy Document.

Mr Justice Barr submitted that this case is of an exceptional humanitarian nature and therefore the policy can be departed from in such circumstances pursuant to paragraph 1.12 of the Policy Document:

‘While this document sets down guidelines for the processing of cases, it is intended that decision makers will retain the discretion to grant family reunification in cases that on the face of it do not appear to meet the requirements of the policy. This is to allow the system to deal with those rare cases that present an exceptional set of circumstances, normally humanitarian, that would suggest that the appropriate and proportionate decision should be positive’
The respondents further submitted that the test in finding whether the case in question was of an exceptional humanitarian nature was whether it could be demonstrated that ‘their circumstances are more severe to that of other Somali citizens’

The court found that the decision maker fell into error in making this finding. Mr Justice Barr stated that in order to circumvent the requirements of the policy document it is only necessary for them to establish that they constitute an exceptional set of circumstances. It was found that this ‘does not mean they have to prove their circumstances within the particular country in question are exceptional by the standards of that country.’

Mr Justice Barr also submitted that any submission made by the Minister in relation to errors in spelling on the applicant’s documents, occurring as a result of translations, were of probative value and were made irrationally and unfairly.

Mr Justice Barr further submitted that the financial requirements of the policy document were applied against the applicant without proper consideration of the exceptional humanitarian circumstances.

Mr Justice Barr stated this it was a key issue of the case that the Minister did not engage in a real way the with the exceptional humanitarian circumstances of the case.

The court summarized the findings as follows:

‘In summary, the court holds that to have applied the eligibility criteria and the
financial requirements of the policy in refusing the visa applications on behalf of the
minor applicants, while effectively ignoring the past circumstances of the first
applicant and her children, together with their present circumstances in Somalia, and
in not considering whether these constituted exceptional circumstances, which
warranted a departure from the strict requirements of the policy, rendered the decision
irrational and unfair. On this basis it has to be set aside.’

The court ultimately issued an order of certiorari quashing the Minister’s decision to refuse the visa applications for the four minor applicants.
The full judgement can be accessed via the following link:

https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/231745d1-c37c-45e1-a633-248484d0ebf0/2023_IEHC_316.pdf/pdf#view=fitH

We wish to extend our congratulations to our clients for this ruling.

NEW VISA REQUIREMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR NATIONALS OF BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE PUBLISHES UPDATE ON THE PROCESSING OF NEW VISA APPLICATIONS FOR IMPERATIVE FAMILY REASONS

As of 29th January 2021, the Department of Justice has ceased accepting the majority of new visa/preclearance applications due to Covid-19, with the exception of a number of Priority/Emergency categories of visas.

The Priority/Emergency category includes persons travelling for imperative family reasons.

The Minister for Justice has published an update providing clarity on the meaning of imperative family reasons for the purpose of new visa applications.

In a notice dated 6th April 2021, it is stated that:

“Applicants seeking to travel for imperative family reasons are assessed on an individual basis and are largely confined to emergency cases that may arise in a family situation but do not include the following: missing a loved one; wanting to attend a birth; or wanting to attend a wedding or a milestone birthday. Please note that this list of examples is not exhaustive and whether your application meets the criteria or not is determined by examining the circumstances and supporting documentation of each case on an individual basis.”

The full notice can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about applying for a visa to Ireland, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

NEW VISA AND PRECLEARANCE APPLICATIONS SUSPENDED

On 29th January 2021, a notice was posted on the Department of Justice website noting that the Minister for Justice had imposed several new measures with regard to travel to the State. The Notice stated that it is currently against the law for any person to travel within Ireland for non-essential purposes outside their 5km radius, and that:

“The strong advice therefore is that everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, or where they started from, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland.”

The notice states that from the 29th January 2021 the Department is temporarily ceasing the acceptance of new visa/preclearance applications. This notice states that any applications made online will remain valid but a decision will not be made on these applications until such time as restrictions have been lifted.

 “Increasing travel restrictions and the measures introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 means that travel may not be possible and even if possible is not advisable unless absolutely essential.”

Priority or Emergency cases will continue to be processed online in the normal manner with specific instructions for submission detailed on the summary page, at the end of the application.

The full list of applications  currently falling within this category are as follows:

  • Workers or self-employed persons exercising critical occupations including healthcare workers, frontier and posted workers as well as seasonal workers as referred to in the Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
  • patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
  • pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;
  • persons travelling for imperative family or business reasons;
  • diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;
  • passengers in transit;
  • seafarers;
  • journalists, when performing their duties.

The list of priority/ emergency visa has been amended from the previous visa suspensions during last year.

Of particular note is the fact that applications for visas/ pre clearance submitted pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities ( Free Movement of Persons) Regulation 2015 are not currently listed as priority and based on this published note alone  would appear to be suspended.

In addition to the above, the Minister signed an order imposing new visa requirements on passport holders from a number of South American countries and South Africa. The order came into effect at midnight on the 27th January 2021. In addition to the existing visa required countries, nationals of the following countries are now visa required nationals:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Ecuador (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • South Africa
  • Suriname (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Uruguay

 

SUPREME COURT DETERMINES DEFINITION OF A CHILD FOR PURPOSES OF FAMILY REUNIFICATION

The recent ruling of the Irish Supreme Court in X v Minister for Justice and Equality [2020] IESC 284, was delivered on 7th June 2020. The Supreme Court held that the definition of child for the purposes of Section 56(9) of the International Protection Act 2015 is confined to a biological or adopted child only.

The judgement overturns the finding in the High Court that the definition of child within the International Protection Act could include more far reaching interpretations of “child”, citing the variety and complexity of family relationships.

The Court highlighted the wording of the legislative provision, is “child of the sponsor”. The Court found that the clear reading of this provision limited the scope of children to biological and adopted children. The Court further noted that other children were excluded from the definition of family members for immigration purposes including children over the age of 18. The Court found that the provisions of Section 56(9) where much more restrictive than its predecessor, The Refugee Act 1996.

The Court also found that it would be wrong and incorrect of the Minister to request DNA evidence as a matter of course in respect of refugee family reunification applications. The Court did however find that were there was a legitimate reason or cause to doubt parentage or family relationship it can be an appropriate action of the Minister to request such evidence. The Court noted that the Minister does have guidelines with respect to DNA evidence in respect of D join family visa applications, but that it did not have guidelines in place in respect of refugee family reunification.   The Court noted that DNA goes to the heart of a person’s identity and should only be requested if there is no alternative method to resolve the issues at hand.

The Supreme Court allowed the Minister’s appeal and overturned the decision of the High Court.

If you have any queries regarding how this judgement may affect your application for family reunification, please do not hesitate to contact our office.