Will an EU citizen who has naturalised as a British Citizen lose the right to bring non EU family members to the UK under EU Law?
According to a new ECJ ruling these EU citizen rights will continue.
The European Court of Justice has ruled in a judgment handed down on 14 November 2017 that an EU citizen who resided in the UK before becoming a British citizen does not lose their right to bring their non-EU spouse to the UK under EU law.
The Judgment relates to the case of Toufik Lounes v Secretary of State for the Home Department. Mr Lounes is an Algerian national who came to the UK in 2010 and overstayed his visa. His wife, Ms Ormazabal, a Spanish national had been living in the UK since 1996 and working in the UK since 2004. She became a British citizen by way of naturalisation in 2009 and kept her Spanish nationality. The two parties married in 2014 and Mr Lounes applied for a residence card as the family member of an EU national. This application was refused on the basis that Ms Ormazabal was no longer to be regarded as an EEA national and she should be treated like any other British citizen. This decision would mean the couple would have to pass the stringent rules for spouses including meeting the £18,600 minimum income requirement and the English language requirement as well as paying the exorbitant application fee and pay for use of NHS services.
The matter was brought by Mr Lounes before the High Court who referred the matter to the ECJ on the question of whether the decision of the Home Office was compatible with EU law. The ECJ found after hearing submissions from the UK, Spain and Poland and after 5 months of deliberation that
“a non-EU national may benefit from a right of residence in the Member State in which his EU citizen family member resided before acquiring the nationality of that Member State in addition to her nationality of origin.”
The judgment means that the free movement rights of EU nationals are not lost on naturalisation as British citizens as long as they retain their other European nationality. For now, the ECJ has safeguarded the family life and ties of EU migrants but whether the Brexit agreement will maintain these rights is to be seen.
If the facts of this case seem similar to yours or if you would like advice on your rights in the UK as an EU national or the family member of an EU national, then please contact our team and one our specialist lawyers will be able to help you.