UK Court of Appeal decision: EV (Philippines) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 874,

Summary of facts

The Appellants consisted of a mother, a father and three children, all Philippine nationals. The mother was lawfully resident in the UK on a work permit from June 2007. The rest of her family joined her in April 2008. In February 2011, the Appellants applied for indefinite leave to remain. This application was incorrectly rejected on the basis that it was made on the wrong form. This meant that when subsequent applications were made, they were dismissed on the basis that there is no right of appeal. When the matter was finally considered, the judge rejected the claim because EV was not being paid a sufficient amount for her to qualify. Her employer wrongfully failed to employ her at the relevant rate. The family were denied leave to remain and were expelled.

Summary of guidance

Christopher Clarke LJ held that when deciding on the best interests of a child, the factors that are to be considered are;

(a) their age;
(b) the length of time that they have been here;
(c) how long they have been in education;
(d) what stage their education reached;
(e) to what extent they have become distanced from the country to which it is proposed that they return;
(f) how renewable their connection with it may be;
(g) to what extent they will have linguistic, medical or other difficulties in adapting to live in that country;
(h) the extent to which the course proposed will interfere with their family life or their rights (if they have any) as British citizens (at paragraph 35.)

He continued: “The longer the child has been here, the more advanced (or critical) the stage of his education, the looser his ties with the country in question, and the more deleterious the consequences of his return, the greater the weight that falls into one side of the scales. If it is overwhelmingly in the child’s best interests that he should not return, the need to maintain immigration control may well not tip the balance. By contrast if it is in the child’s best interests to remain, but only on balance (with some factors pointing the other way), the result may be the opposite.” (at paragraph 36)

The significance of this case is that the Court of Appeal has given the most coherent guidance to date on how to interpret and apply the best interest of children in immigration cases. This judgment will be useful in giving guidance on the issues that should be addressed by legal practitioners and whether an immigration officer has made a proper assessment of a child’s best interest in their determination. This judgment is obviously not binding in Ireland but offers assistance in an area where there is little Irish case law, policy or guidelines.

Ciara Dowd

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