Decision to revoke residency of man over alleged marriage of convenience quashed
Posted on 21st June 2022 at 21:13
Mr Justice Cian Ferriter found two infirmities that invalidated the Minister’s 2021 decision
The High Court has quashed the Minister for Justice’s decision to cancel a Pakistani man’s residency permit on the grounds that he had entered a marriage of convenience with a European Union national.
In a judgment quashing the Minister’s decision, Mr Justice Cian Ferriter said the man’s application for a residency card, which would allow him to continue to legally live and work in Ireland, should be remitted back to the Minister for a fresh determination.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had challenged the Minister’s 2021 decision to revoke his permission to remain in Ireland.
That was based on a finding that he had fraudulently submitted false or misleading information and had contracted a marriage of convenience when seeking to renew his residency permit.
He rejects that claim.
The man’s judicial review proceedings challenging the Minister’s decision were brought on grounds including that the Minister had arrived at her decision in breach of fair procedures and had based her findings without identifying the documentation or information that was allegedly fraudulent.
This, he claimed, had denied him the opportunity to contest the allegations concerning his marriage.
The Minister had also failed to have regard for relevant evidence, it was also claimed.
The Minister opposed the action and said the decision was arrived at following a process that was compliant with fair procedures.
There were also reasonable grounds for finding that the man had entered a marriage of convenience to enable him to lawfully remain in Ireland, the Minister also argued.
The court heard that the man arrived in Ireland in 2007 on a student visa, which was renewed annually until 2012.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Ferriter noted that in breach of the terms of his visa the man had engaged in full-time employment during the period of his student visa permissions.
The man claims he met a Swedish woman in 2012 while she was holidaying in Ireland.
They remained in contact, and the man claimed that she moved to Ireland in December 2012 and obtained employment here.
After submitting a notice of intention to marry in November 2012, the couple got married on February 14th Valentine’s Day 2013.
Based on the marriage the man successfully applied for a five-year residency permit. However, difficulties developed between the couple and in September she returned to Sweden, after losing her job in Ireland.
The man said that their difficulties were irreconcilable and divorce proceedings were initiated in Sweden.
Their divorce was finalised in 2017.
Arising out of the divorce, the man sought to regularise his residency in Ireland, arguing that based on EU law grounds he was entitled to remain here.
However, the Minister decided to revoke his permit.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Ferriter said the decision-making process in this case had been invalidated by two infirmities.
The judge said no material was identified as being fraudulent or falsified. It was, he added, “not a case where a forged marriage certificate” had been submitted to the Minister.
In this case, the judge said that the “self-standing finding” of fraudulent submission of information, separate from the finding that the marriage was one of convenience, does not seem to have been justified on its own terms.
The judge said that a second weakness with the Minister’s decision was a failure to properly engage with the evidence and submissions advanced on the issue of the alleged marriage of convenience.
There needs to be a proper engagement by the authorities with evidence submitted by the applicant, he added.
“In my view, the review decision here fell short of such proper engagement,” he said.
While the Minister was entitled to take matters such as the man’s transgression of the immigration rules by working full time when on a student visa, he was satisfied that sufficient shortcomings had been identified in the decision-making process.
The man was, therefore, entitled to an order quashing the Minister’s decision.
The judge added that his findings were confined to the lawfulness of the decision and the decision-making process but were not concerned with the underlying merits of the allegation that the marriage was one of convenience.
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