Non EU Parents of Irish Citizens should be entitled to Residency

A recent judgment in the European Courts of Justice in the case of Gerardo Ruiz Zambrano v Office national de líemploi (ONEM) will have major implications for Irish law in that the judgment provides for the non-EU parents of European citizens to avail of residency rights in the country of the European citizenís birth.This European judgment in its interpretation of EU law will have direct implications for Ireland in that the Irish courts will have to take the judgment into account in deciding any cases coming before the court which are of a similar nature.

The case arose from Colombian citizens, Mr. & Mrs. Zambrano, and their applications for asylum in Belgium.During their applications for asylum being processed, the couple gave birth to children who were entitled to avail of Belgian citizenship.After being refused asylum, the couple applied for residency in Belgium based on their parentage of the Belgian citizen children and were refused.The Colombian father of the children, Mr. Zambrano, challenged this decision stating that the couple were entitled to reside and work in Belgian based on their parentage of Belgian nationals.In relation to this challenge, a referral was made to the European Court of Justice on whether or not EU law could be applied even though the children were living as Belgian citizens under the domestic law of Belgium and not exercising their EU Treaty rights of the free movement of persons.

The European Court of Justice confirmed that a member state of the EU has the jurisdiction to deal with the right to acquire citizenship of that member state, however that once the citizenship has been acquired, EU law precludes any measures which will deprive the nationals of that country from the ďgenuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred by virtue of their status as citizens of the unionĒ.The court also rules that the deprivation of the citizenís parentís right to live and to work in their childís country of nationality amounted to such a denial of rights.

The court thus decided that EU law prevents the refusal of residency by member states to non-EU citizen parents of minor children who are still dependent on their parents.This is very relevant to non-EU citizens living and residing in Ireland who have been refused residency by the Irish authorities and who are the parents of Irish citizen children resident in this State

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