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CJEU: permanent residence card exempts family member from visa requirements


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In the case of C‑754/18 Ryanair the Court of Justice of the European Union has concluded that a non-EU national who holds a permanent residence card from one EU state, is under EU law, exempt from any domestic law requirement to hold a visa to enter another EU state. The judgment effectively overrules the Court of Appeal judgment in Ryanair v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 899 (see our write up of that earlier case here: Carriers’ liability: Ryanair challenges the Secretary of State – and loses).

The CJEU reaches this conclusion despite there being no express provision to this effect in Directive 2004/38: only a residence card is specifically mentioned. This was no barrier to the CJEU, which considered it absurd and counterproductive for one of the benefits of a residence card to be lost when the status is upgraded to permanent residence.

The court also finds that other member states must accept a permanent residence card issued in a different member state as proof that status is genuinely held. This runs contrary to the current Home Office interpretation of the significance of possessing residence documentation issued in EU countries.

The judgment is an important one for airlines and for passengers, given that carrier liability laws were until now effectively forcing airlines to deny boarding to non-EU family members with permanent residence cards and no visa.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.