Today, we focus on two immigration cases from the past year.
The meaning of continuous residence
Jones v Minister for Justice and Equality IECA 285
Approximately 6,000 citizenship ceremonies were put on hold pending the Court of Appeal’s decision in this case. The drama arose from a judgment of the High Court in July, in which the Court placed a strict interpretation on the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956. You can read our original article on the High Court’s judgment here.
Section 15(1) of the 1956 Act says that an applicant for naturalisation must have been continuously resident in the state for a year prior to making their application. The High Court took this to mean that the applicant must have been present in the state for an unbroken period of a year without exception. It also held that the Minister for Justice and Equality (“the Minister”) did not have the power to disregard an applicant’s absences.
This decision was problematic from a practical perspective. Few people would qualify for citizenship if, during the year prior to their application, they could not go abroad at all be that in the course of their work, to holiday or to visit family.
The Court of Appeal reached an altogether more workable conclusion when it considered the case in November. The Court of Appeal found that the interpretation of “continuous residence” by the High Court had been unduly rigid and gave rise to an absurd result.
The requirement for continuous residence did not, in fact, completely prohibit extra-territorial travel. It was held that “a reasonable level of absences in connection with an applicant’s employment or otherwise is not inconsistent with “continuous residence in the State” during the relevant one year.”
The Court of Appeal also held that the Minister’s practice of allowing applicants a reasonable level of absence from the state was a “purposive, reasonable and pragmatic approach” that mitigated the potentially harsh effects of the statutory provision.
However, the leeway afforded to applicants is not boundless as Mr Jones, the individual at the centre of this case, found out. He had been absent from the state for more than the 6 weeks allowed by the Minister’s policy and had his application for naturalisation rejected on this basis. The Court of Appeal held that the Minister’s policy was reasonable and had been correctly applied to Mr Jones’ case.
American refused entry to Ireland
Lockwood & Anor. v the Minister for Justice and Equality & Anor. IEHC 256
In this case the High Court gave short shrift to an American national’s application for an injunction to prevent his removal from Ireland on the grounds that he did not have an employment permit. The High Court refused to “interfere with what is prima facie a perfectly lawful refusal of leave to land to a non-national who was deceptive even on his own account”. Click here to see our report from June.
The case illustrates the fate that awaits an economic migrant who has not obtained permission to work in Ireland before landing. Employers who are bringing in a non-EEA national to work in Ireland must make sure they have the appropriate paperwork and permissions in place before that person arrives.
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