Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law
Did the Home Office inadvertently strengthen the rights of Zambrano carers in 2018?
THANKS FOR READING
Older content is locked
A great deal of time and effort goes into producing the information on Free Movement, become a member of Free Movement to get unlimited access to all articles, and much, much more
TAKE FREE MOVEMENT FURTHER
By becoming a member of Free Movement, you not only support the hard-work that goes into maintaining the website, but get access to premium features;
- Single login for personal use
- FREE downloads of Free Movement ebooks
- Access to all Free Movement blog content
- Access to all our online training materials
- Access to our busy forums
- Downloadable CPD certificates
In Velaj (EEA Regulations – interpretation; Reg 16(5); Zambrano)  UKUT 235 (IAC) the Upper Tribunal looked at whether the Home Office accidentally liberalised the regulations on when the primary carer of a British child can be removed from the UK.
The tribunal concluded that it did not. As a result, the law on these “Zambrano” rights remains unchanged.
In any case, Zambrano rights will soon be of purely historic interest due to Brexit. If deciding whether or not it is worth making an out-of-time application based on Zambrano see Nath’s excellent briefing: To Zambrano or not to Zambrano?
Background: Zambrano carers
In a case called C‑34/09 Zambrano the Court of Justice of the European Union decided that a non-EU national could derive a right to reside in the EU through their EU citizen child. The child cannot be deprived of their rights as an EU citizen by being required to leave the territory of the EU due to the removal of their primary carer.
This was implemented in the UK through regulation 16(5) of the EEA Regulations 2016, which sets out the following requirements:
- The applicant must be the primary carer of a British citizen;
- The British citizen must be residing in the UK; and
- The British citizen would be unable to reside in the UK or in another EEA state if their primary carer (or both primary carers where parental responsibility is shared) left for an indefinite period.
Regulation 16(8) says that a person is still the primary carer of a British citizen if they share the responsibility for the child’s care equally with one other person. Before 2018, it went on to say that the other person cannot be a British citizen, someone with a right to reside under the EEA Regulations, or someone with indefinite leave to remain.
This rider significantly restricted the number of people who could rely on this provision. It meant that someone such as Mr Velaj, who has a British wife who would remain in the UK if he is deported, could not qualify for a Zambrano right to reside as he could not meet the definition of “primary carer”. The logic behind this is that the British child would not be compelled to leave the UK in such circumstances; they can stay here with the other parent.
Mr Velaj argued that, although he couldn’t meet the requirements of EU law itself, he could meet the requirements of regulation 16 as amended.
An inadvertent expansion of Zambrano rights?
Under EU law, only single parents or couples who are both migrants with no right to remain in the UK can rely on Zambrano (i.e. where there is no one else who could care for the child, meaning they are compelled to leave the UK).
Mr Veja argued that the updated version of regulation 16 accidentally changed UK law so that anyone who is the primary carer of a British child could rely on regulation 16, regardless of whether there is another parent who could remain in the UK and care for the child. This interpretation would have expanded considerably the number of people who could rely on Zambrano.
The Upper Tribunal’s decision
The tribunal decided that the amended regulation 16 does not have this liberalising effect. That was because:
- Such an interpretation would be contrary to the intent and effect of sections 117B(6) and 117C(5) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, which contain more stringent standards for removal of the parents of British children; and
- The use of the word “unable” in regulation 16(5) is part of the legal test. The key issue of inability to reside in the UK requires detailed consideration and a causal link with the departure of both carers. It cannot be assumed that both parents will leave the UK.
As a result, it remains the case that someone can only rely on a right to reside based on Zambrano where the British child will be compelled to leave the territory of the EU as a result of the Home Office’s decision (i.e. there is no one else who can care for them in the UK).