Correspondence raises doubts over how Ireland handles Zambrano visa requests
European Court of Justice ruling should entitle parents of Irish citizen children to return to the State with their families
According to the Department of Justice, families living outside Ireland with Irish citizen children can seek to benefit from the Zambrano judgment.
However, correspondence seen by The Irish Times casts doubt on whether this position has been applied consistently.
A visa applicant in Lagos produced a letter from the Embassy of Ireland in Nigeria that was issued in response to a visa application under Zambrano.
‘Not general policy’
The letter stated that it was “not general policy” to grant a long-stay visa to visa-required nationals who were family members of minor citizen children “where those children are not normally resident in the State”.
There was also a reference to the applicant having shown insufficient “evidence of relationship to Irish citizen child” and the applicant awaits word on an appeal.
According to Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre in Cork, it has acted on a number of Zambrano-related visa applications and has “found that they are subject to lengthy delays”. It has had some success in individual cases where the child had not been ordinarily resident in Ireland.
“We believe that INIS [Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service] should publish a clear statement of its policy for visa applicants who have dependant Irish citizen children and provide an expedited visa process to enable these Irish children to enjoy their rights as EU citizens and live in Ireland,” said a spokesperson.
Alan Shatter’s Department of Justice said it had no statistics on visa and residency outcomes pertaining to applicants under Zambrano who had been living outside Ireland.
“While it is known that some persons have applied to Ireland’s Embassies abroad for visas to facilitate travel to, and residence in, Ireland, based on principles of the Zambrano judgment, we do not record such persons’ cases in a manner as would enable their cases to be disaggregated from overall visa applications,” it stated.
However, the department has statistics on people who had been living in Ireland and benefited from residency through the Zambrano judgment.
To date some 2,990 people have applied for residency, with 1,861 approved and 124 refused (806 applications were pending, 126 were ineligible and 73 described as miscellaneous). These figures did not include people whose residency stamp had been upgraded following the Zambrano ruling.
Refusals related to a failure to produce documentation that proved identity, insufficient evidence of their role in the life of the Irish child; and criminality.
The department added: “While many of the [1,861 successful applicants] would not have been solely Zambrano cases, such persons were granted permission to remain nonetheless based on their parentage of an Irish-born minor citizen child and on the other rights they had accumulated since their arrival in this State. Such decisions would clearly have had regard for the best interests of the Irish citizen children involved.”