Tag Archive for: International Protection

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.

UPDATE REGARDING ELIGIBLE SPOUSES AND PARTNERS OF GENERAL EMPLOYMENT PERMIT AND INTRA-COMPANY TRANSFEREE IRISH EMPLOYMENT PERMIT HOLDERS

IMMIGRATION IN IRELAND STATISTICS MID-TERM REVIEW

 

The Department of Justice has provided up to date statistics from January 2022 to June 2022 in relation to, Residency and EU Treaty Rights, Visa, Citizenship statistics, International protection, and Removal/Deportation. The statistics were broken down by nationality, gender, and age group.

In relation to EU Treaty Rights Applications from January to June 2022, the data shows that nationals from Brazil, South Africa, and Pakistan were the top nationalities of applications received by the Department of Justice. 1356 applications were received from Brazil, 240 from Pakistan, and 153 from South Africa.

The statistics found that nationals from India, Egypt, and China were the top nationalities for Long Term Residency Applications. 30 applications for Indian nationals, 26 applications for Egyptian nationals, and 25 for Chinese nationals (including Hong Kong).

The total visas decided from January to June 2022 were primarily from India, Nigeria, and Turkey. With 21535 visas from Indian nationals, 3396 visas from Nigerian nationals, and 3019 visas from Turkish nationals. In total, most of the visas granted were for Indian (20736 visas), Turkish (2812 visas), and Chinese nationals (2477 visas). The most refused visas were for nationals from Nigeria (1568), India (799), and Pakistan (541), with an overall number of 5825 visas refused. The total decided re-entry visas from January to June 2022 were from Indian, Pakistani and Egyptian nationals.

From January to June 2022, there were 7039 citizenship certificates issued, mainly in respect of United Kingdom, Indian, and Pakistani nationals.

In total, there were 6495 applications received relating to International Protection Applications for 2022. Mainly from Georgia (1811), Somalia (938), and Algeria (698). Out of those applications, there were 1037 applications that have been approved, primarily from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe. Moreover, 1657 applications were refused primarily from Nigeria (216), Georgia (216), Zimbabwe (204).

In relation to Family Reunification Applications, there were 1137 applications submitted from January to June 2022, mainly from nationals of Somalia (489), Afghanistan (247), and Syria (69). 1911 applications for access to the labour market were submitted from January to June 2022, mainly from Somalia, Georgia, and Nigeria nationals.

There were 23 total removals effected, primarily from Romania, Lithuania, and Poland nationals. 54 deportations effected primarily from Pakistan, Nigeria, and Georgia nationals.

The book for the full statistics can be found here: https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Mid-Year-Review-Statistics-Booklet-2022.pdf

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 regularly posted.

Clients of Berkeley Solicitors win their judicial review case before the High Court in N.I. V MJE 2022 / 442 /JR

SUPREME COURT DELIVER JUDGEMENT IN IMPORTANT CASE CONCERNING THE ASSESSMENT OF APPLICATIONS FOR LEAVE TO REMAIN

The Supreme Court have delivered a seminal judgement in the case of MK(Albania) v Minister for Justice v Minister for Justice and Equality [2022] IESC 0000.

 

The Supreme Court have issued five separate judgements in respect of this case.

 

The majority of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice ruled not to overturn the judgement of the High Court. The High court had determined in this case that a person “with a non-settled or precarious residential status cannot assert Article 8 rights, unless exceptional circumstances arise. Accordingly, a proportionality assessment does not arise”.

 

There are two dissenting judgements of Ms Justice Baker and Mr Justice Mac Menamin who ruled that they would have quashed the decision under challenge.

 

The case involved a young person from Albania who came to Ireland as a minor at the age of 16. An application for international protection in the State was submitted on his behalf. His applications for refugee status and subsidiary protection were refused. His application for leave to remain in the State was then considered and ultimately refused. The Applicant was thereafter issued with a deportation order requiring him to leave the State and remain outside the State indefinitely. The Applicant has lived in Ireland for six years, has went to school here, reached the age of majority here and lived in foster care in this State.

 

The decision to refuse him leave to remain in Ireland and to issue him with a deportation order found that given the precarious nature of his residence in Ireland, as a failed asylum seeker, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human rights was not engaged in his case.

 

The Supreme Court Justices all held that this was not in fact correct. The Court found that Article 8 ECHR was in fact engaged in the case, however the majority judgement held that in any event if the decision maker had correctly assessed the case in substance. The Court found that it would only be in the most exceptional of cases, with wholly exceptional circumstances, that an infringement of an applicant’s private life rights would outweigh a State’s legitimate aim of protecting the integrity of the immigration system.

 

Chief Justice O’Donnell in his Judgement outlined the key question at issue in this case:

 

how should the question of the impact upon the applicant’s private life of a decision of a refusal of leave to remain and/or removal from Ireland be approached and analysed under Article 8?

 

It is accepted in the Supreme Court judgements that the decision made by the Minister in this case followed the legal tests as outlined a case from the United Kingdom, R (Razgar) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UK HL 27, [2004] 2 AC 368   as adopted in this State by the Court of Appeal case of C.I. & Ors. v. The Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform [2015] IECA 192, [2015] 3 I.R. 385.

 

Mr Justice O’Donnell confirmed that this was not the correct approach in these cases. The approach in those cases would appear to be that exceptional circumstances need to arise before Article 8 is engaged. The Supreme Court found this to be incorrect, it should have been held that Article 8 is engaged (even if the applicant’s permission is “precarious”) and the decision maker should then have assessed whether the interference with the rights was proportionate to the legitimate aim being pursued. There is no question of the rights protected by Article 8 being breached in this case – the only thing in issue is the manner in which that conclusion should have been reached.

 

The Court did state that in cases of “settled migrants” whose permission in the State could not be deemed precarious, there may be more possibility that an applicant’s Article 8 rights might more readily outweighed by the legitimate interests of the State.

 

Mr Justice O’Donnell held:

 

The point has been reached where I think it should be recognised that it is in the nature of any decision which refuses leave to remain in the country and renders future residence unlawful and perhaps, even more clearly, where the decision is one for forced removal, that such a decision is normally likely to have an impact of such gravity on an individual who has been living lawfully in Ireland for any appreciable time to engage the operation of Article 8. This is so even if that residence is precarious on the basis of a permission that is necessarily temporary and limited and where the decision to refuse leave to remain, or indeed to deport, is no more than the enforcement and application of the limitation of that permission or its termination in accordance with its terms. To that extent, I agree that the applicant’s analysis is correct and, accepting for the moment the Razgar test as a template for the Minister’s decision in this case, the applicant’s case ought to have been assessed under the fifth limb of the test, that is, whether such interference was proportionate to the legitimate public ends sought to be achieved.

 

The Court held clarified that that while accepting the decision is invalid, I would refrain from ordering certiorari, on the grounds that the outcome would inevitably be the same. Instead for the reasons I have tried to set out, I do not consider that the decision of the Minister was invalid.

 

The Court held that there was no obligation on decision makers to assess applications in a particular format and what was important is that rights are “respected and not breached” and in compliance with The European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003.

 

In Mr Justice Hogan’s judgement the Court addresses the query as to whether the applicant could invoke Constitutional rights in these proceedings, namely Article 40.3 privacy and Article 40.6 associational rights:

 

It follows, therefore, that, based on the NHV analysis, non-nationals enjoy the protections afforded by Article 40.3 and Article 40.6.1.iii (and the other relevant constitutional provisions) in respect of these privacy and associational rights. To that extent, therefore, non-nationals enjoy (in principle, at any rate) a combination of privacy, associational and autonomy-style constitutional rights which correspond to the omnibus description of the right to a private life contained in Article 8 ECHR.

 

The other judgements outline this case was not the appropriate case to consider Constitutional rights as they interact with Article ECHR rights.

 

Ms Justice O’Malley agrees with the majority judgment in her judgement.

 

Mr Justice Mac Menamin in his dissenting judgment respectfully disagrees with the majority and finds that the question of methodology cannot be separated from the substance of the decision.

 

In concluding that he would quash the Minister’s decision Mr Justice Mac Menamin held the decision-making process in this case led to a test which commenced by asking whether Article 8 is engaged, which was answered by considering the gravity of the consequences, rather than whether the privacy and family right actually arose for consideration on the facts.

 

Mr Justice Mac Menamin concludes:

 

There is, at the heart of this appeal, a fundamental question of legal principle concerning rights and remedies. I respectfully, therefore, dissent from the judgment of the majority as to the absence of any remedy. In the first instance, I would have granted the appellant an order of certiorari of the Minister’s orders in this case. But, failing that, I would, alternatively, have granted a declaration that, by virtue of the respondent’s breach of his rights under Articles 8 and 13 of the ECHR, the appellant was entitled to a declaration that the respondent had breached her statutory duty under s.3(1() of the 2003 Act. In my view, such a conclusion must follow from the application of the soundest of all legal principles, that is the protection of the rule of law

 

In her dissenting judgement. Ms Justice Baker concurs with Mr Justice Mac Menamin and finds:

 

“Mac Menamin J. notes, that there are few cases where the interests of a precarious unsettled migrant with a personal family or private life could outweigh the significant interests of the State.”

 

Ms Justice Baker holds that the decision refusing the applicant leave to remain should have been quashed and re assessed by the Minister on the basis that:

 

“That the process be correct, and be seen to have been correctly applied, is not a mere formality…

…the essence of administrative law is to ensure that the process followed by an administrative decision maker were correct, not because due process is an end in itself, 4 but because a person who invokes a process is entitled to understand that process, to know that it was properly applied, and as a result to be in a position to know that the decision maker acted lawfully.”

 

This important Judgement will undoubtedly have an impact on how applications for leave to remain are to be considered by the Minister in Ireland from now on. It can no longer be the case that an applicant needs to show exceptional circumstances prior to being entitled to a proportionality assessment of any infringement of their private and family life rights under Article 8 ECHR.

 

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 regularly posted.

 

RECENT HIGH COURT DECISION – REFUSAL OF REFUGEE FAMILY REUNIFICATION FOR NON-MARITAL PARTNER

RECENT HIGH COURT DECISION – REFUSAL OF REFUGEE FAMILY REUNIFICATION FOR NON-MARITAL PARTNER

Ms Justice Bolger of the High Court has recently delivered a judgement in the case of O v Minister for Justice [2022] IEHC 617.

 

The case concerned a Nigerian citizen who applied for refugee family reunification for his non-marital partner and three children in Nigeria pursuant to s.56 of the International Protection Act 2015. The applications for his children were granted, however the application for his partner was refused. The applicant sought to challenge this decision by way of judicial review proceedings in the High Court, seeking to quash the decision. The Court refused the application and did not grant the relief sought.

 

The application was refused on the basis that s.56(9) of the 2015 Act only permits unification with a marital partner, whilst the applicant’s partner was not married to him. Non-marital partners are covered by a separate administrative non-EEA Family Reunification policy.

 

The applicant claimed that s.56(9) is repugnant to the provisions of the Constitution and incompatible with EU law and the State’s obligations under the ECHR. He applicant also claimed that the administrative policy would not afford him reunification with his partner because he was unable to comply with its financial requirements. He argued that limiting statutory family reunification to a spouse will unfairly split non-marital families by leaving one parent isolated from the other and their children. The applicant argued that this limitation is contrary to Articles 40.1 and 40.3 of the Constitution on the right to equality and Article 41 family rights, as well as his rights under the ECHR to non-discrimination. The applicant also sought constitutional protection for his right to cohabit.

 

The Court rejected the argument that the applicant was being treated less favourably than a married refugee who has been separated from their spouse. The Court in making this determination considered the Minister’s submissions that the applicant was married to a third party and that this marriage had not been dissolved. The Court was satisfied that the applicant’s status is therefore that of a married person and he could not assert a constitutional right to equality of a non-married person to be treated equally to a married person.

 

The Court did not accept the assertion by the applicant that his non-marital relationship is akin to the marital relationship that is recognised under Irish law. The Court stated that insofar as the applicant contended that the relationship between him and his partner was akin to marriage, it could only be akin to a polygamous marriage, which is not recognised in Irish law.

 

In considering the applicant’s argument that there is a constitutional right to cohabit, the Court rejected that such a right existed. The Court further concluded that no EU rights are engaged in the application of s.56 of the 2015 Act and therefore the ECHR is not applicable.

 

The Court therefore found that it is not unlawful that unmarried partners are not included as family members under s.56 of the Act. The Minister has discretion in assessing the extent of family reunification to be afforded to refugees and is entitled to limit this. The Court found that applicants have a non-statutory procedure which they can use to apply for their unmarried partners, via a long-stay visa application, asking the Minister to disapply financial criteria if necessary. The Court found that the State had not breached the applicant’s constitutional rights by providing a different, and potentially more restrictive, non-statutory administrative policy for non-marital family reunification.

The full judgement can be found here:

https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/d322aab5-cda8-461b-b019-dc363a071c70/2022_IEHC_617.pdf/pdf#view=fitH

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 regularly posted.

UPDATE REGARDING ELIGIBLE SPOUSES AND PARTNERS OF GENERAL EMPLOYMENT PERMIT AND INTRA-COMPANY TRANSFEREE IRISH EMPLOYMENT PERMIT HOLDERS

IRELAND SUSPENDS OPERATION OF EUROPEAN AGREEMENT ON THE ABOLITION OF VISAS FOR REFUGEES FOR 12 MONTHS

A Convention Travel Document refers to a travel document issued in accordance with Article 28 of the Geneva Convention and is a document issued to refugees.

Ireland is a signatory to the European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees and as part of this arrangement the holder of a Convention Travel Document issued by another contracting State is not subject to Irish visa requirements for short stays of up to 90 days and can request entry to Ireland for up to 90 days as a non-visa required person.

If a person with a Convention Travel Document from a relevant country wishes to live or reside in Ireland on a long-term basis, they are required to apply for a visa in advance of travel to the State, the visa waiver applies only to short stays of up to 90 days.

This applies to holders of a Convention Travel Document issued by Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland.

As of Tuesday 19th July 2022, Ireland has decided to avail of the option to temporarily suspend the operation of this Agreement in Ireland for a period of 12 months.

Article 7 of the Agreement allows for signatories to the Agreement to temporarily suspend its operation for several reasons, including public order, security, or public health.

The Government announced yesterday that Ireland’s temporary suspension of the Agreement will be notified to the Council of Europe.

The Government will also be required to make an order to amend the Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) Order 2014 to put the requirement for entry visas for holders of refugee convention documents from the relevant countries on a statutory footing.

The Minister for Justice has stated that the reason for the move to suspend the operation of the Agreement in Ireland is due to the number of applications for international protection in Ireland by those who have been granted refugee status in another State.

The Minister’s notice states that from January 2021 to January 2022 the Minister was notified that 760 applicants for international protection had been granted international protection in another State, with 479 being granted protection in the Member States whose beneficiaries of international protection are visa exempt.

We would submit that 479 is a small number when the applications for international/ temporary protection are considered.

Between January 2019 to January 2022 the Minister has indicated she received 6,494 applications for international protection. As of 10th July 2022, 43,256 PPS numbers have been issued to Ukrainian nationals, indicating over 40,000 Ukrainian nationals have been granted temporary protection in Ireland.

Furthermore, persons who have been granted refugee status in another country may still have a valid claim to make for protection in Ireland. We recall the case of MAH v The Minister for Justice [2021] IEHC 302, judgement delivered on 30th April 2021 by Ms Justice Tara Burns. The Applicant was a Somali national who had studied medicine in Ukraine. Upon completion of her studies, she returned to Somalia where she worked as a junior doctor. During this time, the Applicant was subjected to threats from a fundamentalist group and so she fled to Ukraine by renewing her student visa. Upon the expiry of her student visa, she applied for asylum in Hungary and was granted refugee status. However, the applicant was homeless in Hungary, and was unable to obtain work. She was physically assaulted by a man and feared being sexually assaulted by others. She also experienced significant racist abuse. The Minister for Justice in Ireland issued a deportation order against the Applicant.

Ms Justice Burns assessed the Respondent’s consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 as amended, and stated her findings as follows:

I am of the view that the Respondent incorrectly assessed the COI; failed to consider whether the presumption that her fundamental rights would be upheld in Hungary had been rebutted; and failed to properly consider the Applicant’s employment prospects pursuant to s. 3(6)(f) of the 1999 Act, the Respondent’s determination in respect of the Deportation Order is vitiated by these errors.

In granting the Applicant the reliefs sought, Ms Justice Burns summarised that:

‘the founding architects of the system of international protection which is in place in Europe today, would be of the view that we, as a people, have badly failed the Applicant in this case.’

A link to our blog on this judgement can be found here.

We would argue that it is unfair and unhelpful that the justification put forward by the Minister for Justice in suspending the operation of this agreement in Ireland is abuse of the system.