The High Court has quashed a refusal by the Minister for Justice and Equality to grant a residence permit to a man who paid a Portuguese woman to engage in a sham marriage with him.
The man, from India, was entitled to succeed in his challenge to the Minister’s decision because of a failure by the Minister to engage with the evidence related to a later committed relationship he had with a Polish woman who has been living in Ireland since she was a child, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said.
The judge said the man (32) arrived here in March 2013 and was granted permission to remain on a student visa until September 2014.
In February 2015, he married the Portuguese woman and a couple of months later applied for a residency card on the basis of being married to an EU citizen.
In November 2015, his Portuguese wife attended the Garda National Immigration Bureau so he could get the residency card. In an interview with bureau officers, she admitted she had been asked by the Indian man to come to Ireland from Portugal to enter into a marriage contract for money.
She said she had never been in a relationship with him and her visits to Ireland were solely for the purpose of helping him obtain a residence card, in exchange for payment.
He was told his permit was to be revoked on the basis of the sham marriage of convenience.
In the meantime, he had begun living with a now 26-year-old colleague from the fast-food outlet where they both worked. On the basis of that relationship, he re-applied for residency.
He was refused again largely due to the sham marriage but also because the Minister was not satisfied the new relationship was genuine. He was also told he would be deported.
He brought a High Court challenge which the Minister opposed.
Mr Justice Barr noted the Minister asserted the man never admitted he had engaged in a sham or marriage of convenience in relation to his first residency application.
While “this was true”, the judge said, the court could understand his reluctance to do so given that it is an offence to give false information when seeking a residence card.
The court was satisfied that, contrary to established principles, the Minister did not engage in a detailed analysis of the evidence of the relationship provided by the man and his Polish-born girlfriend who has lived here since she was 11.
There was no reason why she would engage in any sham relationship with him as she would have nothing to gain thereby, he said. From 2016 on, she had serious health difficulties and the evidence was that he was of “considerable support” to her throughout those difficulties, he said.
He set aside the refusal and sent the matter back to the Minister for fresh consideration.