Archives For Europe


The ‘Surinder Singh route’ has become well known to British citizens seeking to be reunited with their family members. The toughening up of UK immigration rules in July 2012 – particularly the introduction of the minimum income rule and its labyrinthine documentary requirements and the awful elderly dependent relative rules – is resulting in an increasing number of split families. To understand their misery and anguish, take a look at some of the comments left here and here on this blog. As recently reported, over 3,000 families had applications on hold by the Home Office pending the outcome of a test case, and that was only as of the end of December 2013. That was at least 6,000 adults and it is unknown how many of those couples have children. The numbers can only have increased since then.

The old Court of Justice of the European Union case of Surinder Singh provides a potential means of bypassing the harsh UK immigration rules by relying instead in European Union free movement laws. But a new European case, O v The Netherlands Case C‑456/12, brings some good news and a bit of bad news. Continue Reading…

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series EEA benefit crackdown

On 19 January 2014, Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May told the Daily Mail that Britain’s generous welfare system should no longer be a ‘magnet’ for citizens of other EU states and that they would be introducing a number of measures aimed at new migrant jobseekers from the European Economic Area (EEA).

“For those migrants who do come here, we’re ensuring they are unable to take unfair advantage of our system by accessing benefits as soon as they arrive.  For example, we introduced rules so that from January 1 this year we are banning individuals from receiving out-of-work benefits until they have been living in the UK for three months. And we will go still further: from the beginning of April we will be removing entitlement to housing benefit altogether for this group.”

The DWP has now issued the Housing Benefit (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/539) as well as official guidance to local authorities HB Circular A6/2014.  While the change has been portrayed as being aimed at newly arrived EEA migrants (particularly those from Eastern Europe), it is now clear that it will also affect those EEA nationals who do not manage to pass the ‘more exacting test’ for genuine and effective work, in the form of the Minimum Earnings Threshold (‘MET’), when they claim JSA(IB). Continue Reading…

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series EEA benefit crackdown

The Department of Work and Pensions has introduced the Minimum Earnings Threshold ‘(MET)’ as part of the decision making process for determining whether EEA nationals who claim income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA(IB)) have retained the status of a ‘worker’. Here I look at what it is, how it works, its intended and actual impact and whether it may be amenable to legal challenge. Continue Reading…

Expediting an EU residence card application

This is just one of the useful snippets from the ILPA policies and concessions gaining course I co-presented with Alison Stanley and Meghan Vozila last week. They in fact did most of the work!

It is possible to request expedition of an EU residence card application where it has been outstanding for over three months. See the European Casework Instructions at Chapter 10 for details. There are also other potential justifications for speeding things up, including being unable to make journeys necessary for compassionate or business reasons on existing documents, being elderly (i.e. 65 or over) and showing that an EEA document is needed for a particular job.

The Supremes

Any asylum practitioner is likely to come across cases where, rather than investigate the merits of an asylum claim, the Home Office seeks to return their client to a third country elsewhere in the European Union deemed under the Dublin II Regulation to have prior responsibility for assessing the claim, most often because that was the first territory in which they were fingerprinted or recorded as having claimed asylum having crossed the borders into the Member States. Any international system of co-operation in the assessment of asylum claims, in order to have integrity, needs to have some level of trust in the processes and decision making of fellow States, and so it is perfectly sensible for participants to proceed from an assumption that each of them respects the standards of the system as a whole. But when particular countries experience large scale arrivals that test their capacity to breaking point, or are unable to cater for the particular needs of returnees, what approach should national courts take in assessing whether the ensuing problems involve a breach of Article 3 ECHR?

The Supreme Court in EM Eritrea and Others [2014] UKSC 12 has now answered this question Continue Reading…


In a new judgment in the case of Reyes v Sweden [2014] EUECJ C-423/12 (BAILII link) the Court of Justice of the European Union has addressed the question of whether a dependent family member must be involuntarily dependent in order to qualify for free movement rights and how far a person’s capacity and intention to work after arrival is relevant to the question of dependency.

The answers are essentially that the reason for past dependency does not matter as long as the dependency is real and that capacity or intention to work in future in the Member State is not relevant. Continue Reading…


When an EU citizen breaks the law of another member state, fundamental questions arise. How should European states treat EU nationals and their family members who have committed crimes? How can the principles of free movement and integration, which are central to the idea of the European Union, be balanced against the need for law and order?

In two recent cases (Onuekwere v Secretary of State for the Home Department and MG v Secretary of State for the Home Department) the European Court of Justice has considered protection from expulsion under Directive 2004/38/EC. The decision in Onuekwere is disappointing but perhaps not surprising. In MG, however, the court has muddied the waters by failing to give clear guidance. Continue Reading…


Dublin 3 comes into effect

Mark Symes — 

Largely unnoticed by many, on 1 January 2014 a new legal regime entered force regarding the allocation of responsibility for considering asylum claims from persons who have entered the country from elsewhere in the European Union: Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person, or, as it will doubtless come to be known amongst practitioners, “Dublin 3”. Learning from problems identified under the Dublin 2 Regulation, with which all asylum lawyers will be well familiar, it introduces a number of new provisions which may fundamentally change the way that third country cases are considered in future.

Continue Reading…