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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

 

 

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.

 

 

PERVAIS V MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY [2019] IEHC 403 AND THE DEFINITION OF A ‘DURABLE RELATIONSHIP’

The High Court has delivered judgement in a case that may have a significant impact on applications from the partners of EU citizens under Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015,

Partners can fall within the category of “permitted family member”.

In the Directive beneficiaries in this category are described in Article 3(2) as the partner “with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship, duly attested”.

This definition can be found at reg.5(1)(b) of the Regulations.

In this case the Court asked the question: What is a “durable relationship”?

The Court notes:
The phrase is not defined in the Citizens’ Rights Directive, most likely so as to allow the various member states to proceed by reference to concepts of relationships/durability that suit their respective mores and traditions.

The Court was critical that the Minister has not tried to define or elaborate on this definition by way of Ministerial guidance. The Court found that an untenable situation has arisen whereby no-one (applicants, officials or indeed the court) quite knows what a “durable relationship” is.

It has emerged in the proceedings that a “durable relationship”, as conceived by the Minister involves a ‘sort of’ two-year benchmark, however a lower timeframe can be applied if that is considered to be merited on the evidence in any one case… though quite when the evidence will be (or is) considered to justify the application of a lower timeframe and how a particular lower timeframe is settled upon is entirely unclear.

The Judge went through the EU1A application form and guidance note in some detail (this is the application form on which a permitted family member makes an application for an EU residence card). The Court noted that as the concept of “durable relationship” is not defined, asking someone to provide “Evidence of a durable relationship” is largely, if not completely, meaningless.

The Court also held that the Minister had allowed a confusion to arise between the concept of a durable and attested relationship and the conception of “cohabitation”.

The Court found in this respect:
“… it seems to the court that the concept of “cohabitation” has skewed the Minister’s approach to such applications as are made under reg.5, not least in the suggestion that “tenancy agreements, utility bills” would be suitable evidence of “cohabitation”. Perhaps they would, but reg.5(1)(a) refers to a “durable relationship”, not a relationship of cohabitation.”

The Court outlined a number of scenarios where a durable and attested relationship might exist both with or without cohabitation and made a number of remarks as to the approach of the Minister to require evidence and documents of cohabitation.

The Court answered a number of questions in concluding its judgment, most notably:

Q2. (i) Has Directive 2004/38/EU been adequately transposed into domestic law by the respondents?
(ii) Have the respondents infringed the principle of effectiveness by failing to provide any legislative definition of the concept of “durable relationship duly attested” or any legislative framework/guidance for the test to be applied and the proofs required?

No to (i).

Yes to (ii), save that the court considers that a definition could also be provided in non-legislative guidance (which to this time this has not occurred). The manner of transposition yields the various legal issues described herein and the principle of effectiveness has been breached.

It will be interesting to see how the Minister deals with the Court’s judgement in this matter. It appears that in the Court’s view it would be open to the Minister to deal with this issue by way of statute/ amendment to the regulations or alternatively by way of Ministerial guidelines.

We hope that in light of this judgement the Minister goes on to provide a clear definition of a “durable relationship, duly attested” so that there is more clarity for EU citizens and their partners as to their eligibility for an EU fam residence card.

The full judgment can be read here.