Sinnott Solicitors are delighted to report that the High Court last week overturned a decision of the Minister for Justice to refuse a Permanent Residence Card to our client in the case of N.K and A.R v Minister for Justice 2020.195.JR.  The Judgment we submit is an important precedent in a case which involved marriage of convenience allegations against our client.

The first applicant is a citizen of Hungary and the EU working in the State. The second applicant, a Pakistani national, is her husband. They married in November 2012 and worked together running a fast food business in the State. The EU citizen also worked as a java developer for a Hungarian-based company, working remotely.

In 2013, the husband applied for and was granted a residence card as the qualifying family member of an EU national. In April 2018, he applied for a permanent-residence card. That application was refused at first instance, and later on review by letter dated 14 January 2020. In that decision, the Minister made findings that she wasn’t satisfied that the first applicant is living or genuinely employed or self-employed in the State. Further, the Minister found that the marriage is one of convenience.

In the contested decision dated 14 January 2020, the Minister stated inter alia on its first page:

[Your legal representatives] contend, also, that the EU citizen is employed by a Hungarian company but works remotely from Ireland. It is considered, however, that the documentation provided in respect of this remote working arrangement is scant and insufficient.

Our clients submitted a letter of from the EU citizens employer in Hungary which confirmed as follows:

”…She is a Java programmer and works online with us. She’s not physically present in our office, working from home in Ireland, where she resides full time with her husband.

I hope this is to your satisfaction and should you need any other information please do not hesitate to contact me.

This letter was on headed paper, and gave the company’s telephone number, email address, website address, and the writer managing directors direct-dial number. Yet the Minister took no steps to verify the contents of the letter, despite expressing the view that “the documentation provided in respect of this remote working arrangement was scant and insufficient.”

Our clients instituted Judicial Review proceedings against the Minister for Justice challenging the refusal.  In these proceedings it was submitted that the Respondent Minister for Justice took no steps to verify the employer letter as well as referring to the fact that the Minister referred to unspecified information from An Garda Síochána and Hungarian authorities in refusing the application however failed to give reasons for it.  The Minister for Justice at no time took any steps to verify the letter from the EU Citizen’s employer in Hungary.

Delivering Judgment in the matter last week Mr Justice Meenan in the High Court quashed the decision of the Minister for Justice to refuse our clients’ Permanent Residence Card.  The Judge in his decision focused on the failure of the Minister for Justice to verify the authenticity of the letter from the EU Citizen’s employer.  At paragraph 26 of the Judgment, the Court held as follows:

“Without carrying out a basic step of attempting to verify the authenticity of this letter, I do not see how the respondent could validly give such a reason. This is all the more so as the respondent was clearly in contact with Hungarian authorities. I am not suggesting that it was incumbent on the respondent to initiate a Garda-style inquiry. All that was required was a few basic queries.

 In conclusion, on this submission, I find that the respondent failed in her duty to give reasons as, without basic inquiries, she was not in a position to do so. “ 

See full judgment here: 2020 195 JR – N.K. ANOR. -V- THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY

The matter will now be remitted to the Minister for Justice for reconsideration.

Sinnott Solicitors are delighted with the decision of the High Court not only for our clients in the case, but all immigration applicants whose documentation is often dismissed by the decision maker in immigration applications without carrying out a thorough examination of same.