The Applicant was a national of Uzbekistan whose family, including his sister (an Irish citizen) resided in Ireland. The Applicant turned 18 in June 2008 and applied for a long-stay visa in July 2008. His application was refused by the Minister and the Applicant sought judicial review of that decision on the basis that the Minister failed to consider his individual circumstances and his right to respect for his family life pursuant to Article 8 (right to respect for family and private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Leave to seek judicial review was granted by the High Court on an ex parte basis.
In determining the substantive application, the Court noted that the Minister is entrusted with the State’s immigration policy and is entitled to adopt, formulate, tighten or loosen that policy in accordance with the needs of the State. The Minister is entitled to require that applicants meet certain criteria in order to obtain permission to enter and remain in the State. If those criteria are not met, then the Minister is entitled to reject such an application. The Minister is entitled to consider whether the grant of a long-stay visa might give rise to foreign national adults posing a potential burden on the State and refuse entry to such persons. The Court held that there was nothing inherently objectionable in operating an immigration policy to generally refuse entry visas to adult family members from non-EU states, nor was there anything illegal in determining that a person over 18 is an adult.
The Court found that it had jurisdiction to review the process by which the Minister reached his decision to refuse a long-stay visa to the Applicant and to determine whether the Minister had breached his obligations to act in accordance with the requirements of natural and Constitutional justice and in accordance with his obligation under section 3 of the ECHR Act 2003 to perform his functions in a manner compatible with the State’s obligations under the ECHR. The Court noted that jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights established that Article 8 cannot be considered to impose a general obligation on a State to authorise family reunion in its territory. The Court was not satisfied that the Applicant enjoyed ‘family life’ within the meaning of Article 8 for two reasons: firstly, the Applicant had never lived in the territory of a Contracting State to the Convention and the rights and obligations of the Convention do not generally extend beyond Contracting States; and secondly, the Applicant was an adult and the European Court of Human Rights had consistently held that there can be no ‘family life’ between adult offspring and parents unless additional factors of dependence, other than normal emotional ties, are shown to exist. In the present case, the Applicant had not established additional factors of dependence, and the Court accordingly refused the reliefs sought.