WORLD

Landmark court ruling opens door to non-EU spouses

LANDMARK COURT RULING OPENS DOOR TO NON-EU SPOUSES

An EU national who has citizenship in a second EU member state can acquire the right of residency for a non-EU family member under EU laws instead of having to go through domestic immigration procedures, the EU's top court ruled on Tuesday.

A European court ruling on Tuesday said EU citizens who are also naturalized British subjects can enjoy family union rights when they are married to non-EU individuals in the U.K. and live with them.

The landmark decision from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) followed five months of deliberation in the case of a Spanish woman, Garcia Ormazabal -- who gained British citizenship and retained her original Spanish nationality -- and her husband, Algerian national Toufik Lounes, whose application for permanent residency, based on their marriage in 2014, was rejected by the U.K. Home Office.

The case was referred to the ECJ by the U.K.'s High Court where the couple filed an appeal against the decision by the Home Office, which had argued that Ormazabal could not be treated as an EU citizen practicing freedom of movement after she became British in 2009.

Ormazabal came to the U.K. in 1999 as a student and has resided in the country since.

The ECJ ruled that the European directive governing Ormazabal's rights did cease to govern her residence in the U.K., but it concluded that her husband had a "'derived right' under freedom of movement rules."

Europe's top court said "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".

"A non-EU national in Mr Lounes' situation is eligible for a derived right of residence..., on conditions which must not be stricter than those provided for by the directive for the grant of such a right to a third country national who is a family member of an EU citizen who has exercised his right of freedom of movement by settling in a Member State other than the Member State of which he is a national," the court said.

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