Dual British nationals may have been saved by a landmark case being heard in Luxembourg this week; the court will decide whether a British-Spanish citizen is entitled to have her husband of Algerian nationality live with her in the UK. The case was referred to the court in Luxembourg last year by the High Court after her Algerian husband was denied access by the home office, despite Mrs. Lounes right to have family members live with her in the UK; as a UK citizen under freedom of movement laws.
The question of what privileges can be exercised as an EU citizen who has chosen to obtain British citizenship is one of paramount importance, particularly with the looming uncertainty of where we as a country will stand post Article 50 and Brexit. The court in Luxembourg will hear arguments by both; the British government and Mrs. Loune to decide as to whether the British government has breached her rights as a UK citizen.
In 2012, the UK revised its approach in allowing individuals of dual citizenship to exercise their rights of having family members reside with them in the UK under EU Law, this revision was brought about following the judgment of the McCarthy v UK C-202/13 case.
The paramount issue of concern with this approach is if a UK citizen has brought a family to live with them prior to this change. Previously, EU law would dictate that they can reside within the UK, however with the implementation of this new policy many individuals may find themselves unlawfully resident in the UK. This may become a massive issue for families throughout the UK, hence the importance of this case.
Lounes legal counsel and recognised immigration barrister, Parminder Saini, said that
“If the UK’s interpretation of the law is correct, it shall mean that all EU nationals living in the UK, who have also acquired dual British nationality, will no longer be able to rely on their free movement rights after gaining British nationality, as they will no longer be recognised by the UK as EU citizens in that context,”
The likelihood of potential catastrophe that this case may bring has warranted a rare sitting of a full panel of 15 judges in the Grand Chamber, if the Home Office was to win this case it would not only affect individuals’ ability to reside in the UK, but it may be plausible to assume that it will set precedent for other EU countries to obtain a similar approach thus leading to a potential dismantlement of this fundamental freedom within EU Law.
A verdict will be reached by the end of the month and will no doubt be eagerly anticipated by freedom of movement barristers and dual-nationality citizens alike.