Home > UK immigration > European Court of Justice decides on UK family visas

European Court of Justice decides on UK family visas

December 22nd, 2014

A family with complex nationality status has been at the centre of a new ruling from the European Court of Justice. The father’s dual nationality of British and Irish is no problem – his children have British nationality too. His wife, however, is Colombian and possesses and EU Residence Card which was issued to her in Spain. Previously, she would have had to obtain a visitor’s visa to enter the UK and as this lasts for only six months, there would be an endless round of paperwork to be filled in to allow the family to stay together. The new ruling means that UK visas are no longer required in cases such as this; in fact, they are illegal.

Concerns for the UK

The new ruling will open the floodgates, the UK government is concerned, to large numbers of people who have previously been deterred by having to obtain the necessary documentation to obtain the visa. At a time when the government is tightening up on the whole complex issue of immigration, this is seen by some as a backward step. Issues of security are involved because some EU member countries are lax in their issuing of Residence Cards and insufficient checks are made on applicants. This means that some people will inevitably be able to enter the UK fraudulently with all the problems that that entails. The European Court made the ruling on the basis that freedom of movement is one of the basic human rights enshrined in its charters and this must take precedence over UK concerns.

Other issues

Welcomed by immigration charities and human rights lawyers, and denigrated by those who want to see ever more stringent border controls, the new ruling does nothing for poorer families who are still, in effect, separated by the tough financial legislation affecting their entry to the UK, which were brought in in 2012. At the moment, the UK is bound by the Court of Justice’s decision but it has launched an appeal. No date has been set for this.