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THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE JONES CASE FOR ‘RECKONABLE RESIDENCE’ FOR NATURALIZATION APPLICATIONS

Many of our clients have been contacting the office concerned and confused regarding their eligibility for naturalization or the position regarding their pending application for naturalization.

This is as a result of the recent judgement of the High Court, Jones v Minister for Justice record number 2018/921 JR.

The requirements for an applicant to be eligible to apply for naturalization are laid out in statute, the primary act being the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

A fundamental requirement to be eligible to apply for naturalization is that you hold the required “reckonable residence”.

For a standard application the required period of reckonable residence is five years, this is reduced to a period of three years for the spouses and civil partners of Irish Citizens and for refugees.

This period of five years can be made up as a period of four years within the last eight, with one year “continuous residence “ in the year prior to application.

This is 2 years in the last four and one year continuous for those eligible for the reduction to 3 years reckonable residence if applying based on being the spouse of an Irish national or a holder of refugee status.

Reckonable residence is also defined in law as residence which is not in breach of immigration law (unlawful residence ), not for the purpose of study and not for the purpose of seeking international protection.

Therefore a person who is legally resident and does not fall into one of the categories above is resident as per the definition of reckonable residence.

A person does not lose their residence or right to reside in Ireland if they leave for holidays, work purposes and for up to six months per year for holders of EU residence cards. They therefore remain resident in Ireland for immigration purposes. The Court has found that the requirement for continuous residence does not equate with residence for immigration purposes, but with physical residence.

There has been a question on the application form for naturalization for a number of years, namely question 5.6, which asks an applicant if they have been absent from the state for more than six weeks in any year in the last five year period.

An applicant is asked to confirm if they have or have not been so absent and if they have, to explain these absences on a separate sheet.

Many clients have sought our advices on this question including clarity as to whether the calculation should be made based on a calendar year or the year immediately prior. We have been asked to clarify if a person leaves and comes back in one day does this count as an absence?

This question also makes little sense to an applicant applying based on marriage to an Irish citizen where their required three years reckonable residence has been in Northern Ireland. The citizenship acts allow spouses of Irish nationals to rely on residence in Northern Ireland to count as their reckonable residence for the purposes of naturalisation. This does not apply to standard applicants.

Therefore the spouse/civil partner of an Irish national who has resided solely in Northern Ireland and has never lived in Ireland is eligible for naturalization in law, but has been totally physically absent from the Republic of Ireland.

A number of years ago applicants began to be informed that their application for naturisation had been deemed ineligible on the basis of question 5.6 and their absences from the state. This became known as the “six week rule”.

There is no note or information on the application form or the attached guidance note to state that absences from the state over 6 weeks per annum will be discounted from an applicants reckonable residence or that same will count as a break of continuous residence if applicable to the year before application.

An applicant for naturalization is also required to fill in an INIS residence calculator and this calculator is provided online. Applicants are never informed to remove from their calculation any absences or that any absences will be subtracted.

The Minister thereafter appeared to operate a flexible policy where absences from some reasons such as work or employment would not be subtracted but others such as for travel, family reasons would be subtracted. The approach appeared to vary from case to case.

By way of comparison, in the United Kingdom the allowable absences are laid out on law , Section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 allows for 450 days absence in the five year period and 90 days in the year previous. There is also room for discretion on the part of the decision maker. The Home Office also provide detailed guidance for decision makers regarding the meaning of absence, physical residence and technical absence.

It has been difficult to advise clients as to their eligibility for naturalization due to the lack of clarity regarding absences and their effect on the application.

The recent judgement in Jones has changed matters further.

The Court finds in Jones that the law requires continuous residence in the year prior to application and that continuous residence is defined as per the generally accepted understanding and dictionary definition of continuous. Therefore even one days absence from Ireland in the year prior to application will break the continuous residence requirement and leave a person ineligible to apply for naturalization as an Irish citizen.

The court further found that the Minister has no legal basis for the operation of the six week rule, throwing into question the legal validity of certificates of naturalization already granted to persons who did not meet this strict interpretation of continuous residence.

It is also of note that permission letters held by non EEA nationals often state that a condition of permission is that the holder is continuously reside in the state. The letters go on to state that continuous residence is defined as residence in the State, allowing for absences for travel, holiday and so on. Therefore a person remains continuously resident for the purposes of their immigration permission when traveling for work and holiday purposes, but not for the purposes of naturalization.

Furthermore, persons resident in Ireland under Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 rights of residence are not affected by temporary absences of up to six months per year.

It it is yet to be seen how the Minister will approach the judgement of the Court in Jones with respect to pending applications for naturalization.

It will also be of note to see if a statutory amendment to the legislation governing naturalization and reckonable residence requirements is now made.

The position is now very difficult for those who have applied for naturalization or those intending to apply in the near future as their ability to travel or the impact this will have on their application for naturalisation is highly uncertain.

We will be keeping our clients updated as to any further developments in this regard and will post any further updates on this blog.

The full judgement can be found here.

 

 

 

 

A QUESTION OF THE LEGALITY OF THE USE OF DOMESTIC DEPORTATION LAW FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OF EU CITIZENS – CHENCHOOLIAH

Regulation 20 to Regulation 22 of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 implement the Minister’s powers for removal in accordance with Council Directive 2004/38/EC.

The Regulations direct that the Minister may make a removal order against a Union citizen or their family member where the person is no longer entitled to be in the State in accordance with the 2015 Regulations.

However, in practice, the Minister has been invoking the domestic deportation procedure under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 as amended in the circumstances of family members who fall outside the remit of the 2015 Regulations.

The Minister’s approach to utilise the domestic deportation process for family members who have fallen outside the remit of the Regulations, has the effect that the proposed deportee looses certain rights and entitlements available under the 2015 Regulations. For example, a deportation order under domestic law is indefinite in duration while a removal order under the 2015 Regulations expires once the removal has been carried out.

The Minister’s actions have been challenged in a number of judicial review proceedings, the lead of which is the case of Nalini Chenchooliah v the Minister for Justice and Equality, Case C-94/18. In this case, a preliminary reference was made from the Irish High Court to the Court of Justice to seek clarification on the State’s entitlement to use domestic deportation legislation over the removal procedures envisaged by Directive 2004/38.

The questions referred were as follows:

Where the spouse of an EU citizen who has exercised free movement rights under Article 6 of Directive 2004/38/EC has been refused a right of residence under Article 7 on the basis that the EU citizen in question was not, or was no longer, exercising EU Treaty Rights in the host Member State concerned, and where it is proposed that the spouse should be expelled from that Member State, must that expulsion be pursuant to and in compliance with the provisions of the Directive, or does it fall within the competence of the national law of the Member State?

If the answer to the above question is that the expulsion must be made pursuant to the provisions of the Directive, must the expulsion be made pursuant to and in compliance with the requirements of Chapter VI of the Directive, and particularly Articles 27 and 28 thereof, or may the Member State, in such circumstances, rely on other provisions of the Directive, in particular Articles 14 and 15 thereof?

Ms Chenchooliah argued that as a person who at one time, on account of her marriage to an EU citizen, she previously had a temporary right of residence under Article 6 of Directive 2004/38, and therefore she continues to fall within the scope of that directive and can therefore be expelled from the territory of the host Member State only in compliance with the rules and safeguards provided for in that directive.
It is interesting to note the opinion of Advocate General Szpunar of the 21st May 2019, in in which the Advocate General took the same position as Ms Chenchooliah;

“Therefore, in the light of the foregoing considerations, I am of the view that, since the discontinuation or expiry of a right of residence forms part of the final stage of the exercise of freedom of movement, the expulsion from the territory of the host Member State of a third-country national spouse of a Union citizen continues to fall within the scope of Directive 2004/38, in particular Article 15 thereof, where that citizen has ceased to exercise his freedom of movement in the host Member State by returning to the Member State of which he is a national.”

The case was heard by the Court of Justice on the 15th January 2019 and judgement is currently awaited.

Should the Court of Justice concur with the Advocate General and find in favour of Ms Chenchooliah’s position, it would be appear that many deportation orders issued by the Minister in recent years will be unlawful and in breach of the EU treaty rights law.

RE-ENTRY VISAS NOW ABOLISHED FOR ADULT HOLDERS OF IRP/GNIB CARDS

As of 13th May 2019, visa required nationals who hold a valid IRP/GNIB card will no longer need a re-entry visa to travel back to Ireland. An individual will only need to be able to show their IRP/GNIB card and their passport or travel document to airline staff and immigration authorities as evidence of their right to travel to the State.

With this change Ireland has come into line with other EU Member States who rely similarly on residence permits rather than requiring re-entry visas from those holding immigration permission in the State.

This change has been long requested and will benefit an estimated 40,000 persons each year, taking away the need for them to pay a re-entry visa fee and submit their passport or travel document to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service while awaiting the outcome of their application, which could take in and around five weeks to process.

It is important to note however that as minors under the age of 16 years are not issued with an IRP/GNIB card their parent or guardian will still need to apply for a re-entry visa for them to allow them to travel to and from the State. While all other visas must be applied for from outside of the State, an application for a re-entry visa for a minor can be made from within the State.

Further worth highlighting are the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service’s instructions that in light of the delays in securing an appointment to register immigration permission at the Burgh Quay Registration Office, if living in Dublin, and the further two week period it may take to receive one’s IRP card, it is advised that visa required nationals intending to travel to and from the State in the first four months of their stay should apply for a multiple entry visa, which will allow for them to undertake travel in the interim period before their IRP card is issued to them.

For further information on these changes and their implications please see the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website here.

NEW PRACTICE DIRECTION FOR ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION CASES IN THE HIGH COURT

A new practice direction on asylum and immigration cases issued by President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly on the 17th December 2018 has created significant changes in the Asylum and Immigration court, and imposed significant new obligations on both solicitors and applicants.

Practice Direction 81 came into force on the 1st January 2019 and applies only to cases on the Asylum and Immigration list. The obligations imposed by High Court Practice Direction 81 are significant and wide-ranging.

Following the issuance of this practice direction, there is a requirement on all applicants to disclose a substantial amount of information and documentation to the Court regarding their case, including details of all previous immigration applications made by any applicant or their family member in Ireland or any other country and details of any previous or current civil or criminal proceedings. This is the case even when the applicant’s family members are not involved in the Judicial Review proceedings.

 

Under the Practice Direction all adult applicants are required to submit a further affidavit providing the information as requested in the Practice Direction. There is also a requirement that the applicant’s solicitor swear an affidavit in relation to the proceedings.

 

The Practice Direction requires the following to have been completed in respect of every new asylum and immigration case initiated after the 1st January 2019.

  • Provide the Court with all relevant material facts by way of a sworn affidavit
  • Provide a full account of the applicant and relevant family member’s immigration history, to include an account of any applications made to the Department of Justice or any other immigration or protection authority both in Ireland or in any other country – this would include previous visa or immigration applications to any State.
  • Exhibit the full immigration file for all immigration/protection applications of every applicant made both in Ireland and other countries. If such documents are not exhibited, a full explanation as to why they have not been exhibited and provide an outline of what attempts have been made to acquire the documents
  • Draw the Court’s attention to any “significant matter of fact adverse to the applicant’s case”
  • Swear that all previous representations made to the Department of Justice or any other immigration authority have been disclosed, or if not, to explain why not
  • Swear that all previous statements or representations made to the Department of Justice or any other immigration authority for the applicant and family members is the truth in every respect, or if not, particularising the extent to which any such statements or representations are untrue;
  • Swear that all statements in the Statement of Grounds are true in every respect, or if not, particularising the extent to which they are not true;
  • Swear that the applicant is aware that it is an offence of perjury to make a statement in any affidavit that is false or misleading in any material respect and that he or she knows to be false or misleading.
  • Identify the applicant’s religion and confirming that the grounding affidavit has been sworn in a specified manner recognised by that religion
  • Swear that the contents and implications of the averments of verification, all statements in the statement of grounds and the details of all previous claims and representations made by or on behalf of the applicant or any member of his or her family, or any solicitor on behalf of any of them, have been fully explained to the applicant by his or her solicitor, and that the applicant fully understands same
  • Specify the language that the applicant understands and confirming that the applicant fully understands the affidavit and its exhibits in the language in which it is sworn.
  • Exhibit any document in a language other than English with a translated document by official translation company
  • Disclose any criminal offences/convictions/proceedings in Ireland or any other country
  • Disclose if the applicant has issued any legal proceedings in any immigration/criminal/civil matter in Ireland or any other country
  • Swear and file a further affidavit in respect of any new material relevant to the court subsequent to the grounding affidavit
  • Attend the substantive hearing of the case in person if ordinarily resident in the State, and if required to orally confirm the averments of verification set out in the affidavits.
  • Applicants may be required to complete and submit to the court checklists of the requirements in the Practice Direction as may be required by the Judge from time to time

 

Berkeley Solicitors has recently contacted all clients who have current Judicial Review cases active in our office to explain the new requirements imposed by the practice direction. If there are any further developments on the new Practice Direction there will be a further update on the Immigration Blog and clients will be contacted.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS ON CITIZENSHIP FOR CHILDREN BORN IN IRELAND

Until 2004, citizenship in Ireland was acquired purely by being born in Ireland, or “jus soli”. In 2004 a referendum was held an passed which meant that citizenship could only acquired for a child born in Ireland if one or more if their parents was a citizen of Ireland or had lawful residence for a certain period, otherwise known as “jus sanguinis”. This referendum came in the wake of the case L.O. v Minister for Justice, in which it was held that the Minister for Justice had the power to deport the parents of Irish citizen children where there are “grave and substantial reasons associated with the common good to do so”.

Recent high profile cases of children who have been born in Ireland, or who have lived most of their lives in Ireland, being issued with deportation orders have raised new concerns over the result of the 2004 referendum. The case of Eric Zhi Ying Mei Xue gave rise to massive outcry within both his community and around the country- Eric had been born in Ireland to a Chinese national mother, and a deportation order was issued proposing to return him to a country where he had never lived. Similarly, in the case of P.O. v Minister for Justice, a deportation was issued against a nine year old boy who had been born in Ireland, who tragically passed away as a result of sickle cell anaemia during the appeal of his case to the Supreme Court.

These cases likely represent a small fraction of the children born in Ireland who have been issued with deportation orders since the 2004 amendment and subsequent legislation. Department of Justice figures show that since 2013 approximately 134 children under the age of 18 have been deported from Ireland. At present within the department there are 285 minors who have live deportation orders against them.  From these figures it is unclear how many of these children were born in Ireland, or who have spent most of their lives in Ireland.

As a result of cases like the boy in PO and Eric Zhi Ying Mei, there has been considerable public disagreement with the current regime. A recent Irish Times opinion poll has indicated that up to 71% of respondents to their survey are in favour of birth right citizenship. This is a stark change from the referendum result in 2004, in which 79% of voters agreed with the removal of birth right citizenship. Campaigns for the removal of the amendment or the introduction of amending legislation have been proposed, with the Labour party putting forward a bill which proposed to provide citizenship rights to children of non-national parents if they are born in Ireland and have lived in the State for more than three years. The bill was decried as “bad law” by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, but it appears that this bill is reflective of a changed view by the Irish public in birth right citizenship. The bill was rejected by government, but with the shifting public opinion it remains to be seen if the government will consider any legislative changes of their own.

SPECIAL SCHEME FOR NON-EEA NATIONALS WHO HELD A STUDENT PERMISSION IN THE STATE DURING THE PERIOD 1 JANUARY 2005 TO 31 DECEMBER 2010

The INIS has launched the new scheme for non-EEA nationals who held a student permission in the State during the period 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2010 to apply for permission to remain.This scheme applies to non-EEA persons who commenced their presence in the State lawfully under a student permission with a limited right to work and who maintained that lawful presence for at least two years.

DIVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND EQUALITY

Minister Charlie Flanagan has announced he would implement a key recommendation from the latest report of the effectiveness and renewal group from the Department of Justice. The report of the group said the close relationship between senior department of justice officials and senior Gardaí means there is a sense of them being “in the trenches together”. The group proclaimed an interdependent relationship between the justice minister and political system generally and the Garda Síochána has evolved.

Following the report’s publishing one of the key recommendations that shall be introduced by the aforementioned Minister Charlie Flanagan is of relevance to many of our clients here at Berkeley Solicitors. The recommendation is question involves the internal separation of the department into two divisions, justice and home affairs, and a complete reorganisation of work areas. The report’s findings were contributed to by Michael Kirrane, Director General, Irish Naturalisation Immigration Service.

Home affairs will be responsible for policing, crime, national security, criminal law reform prisons and probation, immigration and international policy. Justice will cover the justice sector, civil law reform, courts, asylum and integration and equality. The newly formed divisions will have their own deputy secretary general, with the department led by a single secretary general.

Immigration law was also referenced in other areas of the report, such recommendations are important to us here at Berkeley Solicitors. The report is initiating the creation of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and the Irish Prison Service into separate agencies which, in their opinion, is an idea which should be examined. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and the Irish Prison Service are very substantial public-facing services operating largely autonomously, but still as part of the Department.

The report raised the issue of whether the Department should be undertaking the operational aspects of this work. The report concluded to examine whether these operations should be converted into separate agencies, while retaining the policy function relating to them within Home Affairs. The implementation of these steps, along with the other recommendations in the aforementioned report will enable and expedite the Department in achieving the objectives of the Toland Report. The report states that they expect the restructuring steps to take less than nine months in total, with the first three months in preparation.

 

Berkeley Solicitors