Family Reunification Trumps Rigid EU Regulations

27 Sep 2018, 31 mins ago

In recent years it has become the norm for children, or young adults (those under the age of 18), to make the emotionally and physically difficult journey, unaccompanied, to European countries bordering the Mediterranean. They do this seeking to be reunited with their family members already in the United Kingdom.

The Dublin Regulations represent the body of EU law determining which EU Member State is responsible for examining an application for international protection submitted by asylum seekers. However, since the landmark 2016 UK Upper Tribunal and subsequent Court of Appeal ruling in ZAT and Others, the state of affairs relating to family reunification has improved. The regulations note:

If an unaccompanied child applies for asylum in one state, he ‘shall’ have his application examined in the Member state where a parent, responsible adult, sibling, adult aunt, uncle or grandparent is legally present, provided this is in his ‘best interest’” (Article 8(1)(2)).

A recent case which has suggested that the notion of family reunification trumps the rigid Dublin Regulations began in 2005 when a stateless man from Kuwait sought asylum in the United Kingdom. He succeeded in his asylum claim and became a British citizen in 2013. Once this process was complete he applied for his wife and child to join him in the UK. After many refusals on the grounds that he was no longer a refugee and did not satisfy the requirements for dependent family members, the family were allowed to relocate to the UK to join their father/husband as refugees under the Dublin Regulations. Daniel Rourke, who represented the family, stated:

Following the judgement, on 26 April 2018, the Home Office agreed to accept responsibility for the asylum claims of the mother and daughter under Article 17(2) of the Dublin III Regulations. It was a relief to the family that they were able to be reunited in the UK several weeks later, shortly before the birth of the couple’s second child”. (Daniel Rourke, Migrants Law Project).

Although this process was severely delayed and refused before its successful resolution, it does show that there can be a future for families divided during their plight to gain asylum. These developments may lead in the future to processes which take family rights more into consideration when reviewing applications.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2018