Personal Immigration

ECJ rules on EU citizen dependency requirements

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently gave its opinion in an interesting case that considered what constitutes dependency for a direct descendent of an EU citizen over the age of 21, in order to obtain a residence permit.

In terms of EU law, the right of all EU citizens to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States extends to the members of their family, whatever their nationality. Family members include, in particular, direct descendants who are less than 21 years old or who are dependent on the EU citizen.

The case was referred to the ECJ by the Administrative Court of Appeal for Immigration matters in Stockholm, which asked the court whether it was entitled to require that a descendent of an EU citizen, over the age of 21, must show that he has tried without success to find employment or to obtain subsistence support from the authorities of the country of origin and/or otherwise tried to support himself, before he or she can qualify as a dependent family member.

It also asked whether, in interpreting the term ‘dependant’, any significance attaches to the fact that a family member is deemed to be well placed to obtain employment and in addition intends to start work in the Member State.

The Court concluded that EU law precludes a Member State from requiring a direct descendant, who is 21 years old or older to show that he has tried unsuccessfully to obtain employment or to obtain subsistence support from the authorities of his country of origin in order to be regarded as dependent, and thus come within the definition of a ‘family member’ of an EU citizen.

The Court added that the situation of dependence must exist, in the country from which the family member concerned comes, at the time when he applies to join the EU citizen on whom he is dependent.

The fact that a family member – due to personal circumstances such as age, education and health – is deemed to be well placed to obtain employment and in addition intends to start work in the Member State does not affect the interpretation of the requirement in that provision that he be a ‘dependant’.

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