The Irish High Court has rejected a review of a decision to refuse a residence card based on the conclusion that a ‘marriage of convenience’ was entered into.
The applicant, Muhammad Asif, arrived in Ireland from Pakistan in 2006 on a Stamp 2 student visa, which allowed him to work 20 hours per week. He remained on this visa until November 2013, at which point he obtained a one year green card employment permit to work as a business analyst.
Mr. Asif states that he met Andreia Patricia Pereira Tavares, a Portuguese citizen, in March 2014 and they married 16 days before his visa was due to expire in November 2014. He applied for a residence card as a spouse of an EU citizen exercising free movement rights in March 2015. This application was pursuant to the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006, as the subsequent 2015 regulations did not come into effect until 1 February 2016.
Prior to approving his application, the couple were interviewed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), who noted that Ms. Pereira Tavares did not speak English and could not communicate with Mr. Asif or any of the officers present.
Having sought further information, the Minister for Justice formed the view that the marriage was one of convenience and wrote to Mr. Asif to say that this could lead to revocation of his permission to remain. Mr. Asif subsequently claimed that the marriage had ended and Ms. Pereira Tavares had left the State. In June 2016, the Minister revoked Mr. Asif’s permission to remain on the basis that the marriage had been one of convenience aimed at obtaining a residence card and later proposed to make a deportation order.
Having lodged judicial review proceedings, Mr. Asif contended that prior to the 2015 regulations a ‘marriage of convenience’ had no meaning in Irish law. This was rejected by the High Court, which referred to the term ‘spouse’ in the 2006 regulations as excluding a party to a marriage of convenience. The Court concluded that this was a necessary measure to ensure withdrawal of rights in the case of fraud.
The Court also rejected that the regulations constituted an attack in the constitutional institution of marriage, separating the rights and entitlements enjoyed under the regulations from the validity of the marriage in law.
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