Important update for people with European and British citizenship

According to the decision of the Upper Tribunal in the case of Kovacevic (British citizen - Art 21 TFEU) Croatia [2018] UKUT 273 (IAC), residents who have dual citizenship of any EU country and the United Kingdom, cannot rely on the European law when obtaining residency rights for their family members in case they have never exercised their Treaty rights of free movement in the UK.

In the case above, Mrs Kovacevic had dual citizenship – British and Croatian. She moved to the United Kingdom in 1997 and was naturalised as a British citizen in 2007. It is worth mentioning that she became a British citizen before Croatia joined the EU in 2013, which means that she has never exercised her EU Treaty rights in the UK neither before or after 2013.

Thus, dual citizens residing in the UK will not be able to rely on European rules if they have been using only their British passport, for example, to enter and exit the country, open bank accounts, apply for a job, rent / buy property, register with HMRC and so on.

In the resembling case of Lounes v Secretary of State for the Home Department C-165/16 in 2017,  the court ruled that EU citizens who moved to the UK, and then naturalised as British citizens will retain their free movement rights under EU law and can bring family members to the UK in accordance with European rules, not British ones. The court decision in the Kovaсeviс case does not override the ruling in Lounes, but merely distinguishes who can rely on European rules in order to obtain residency rights for their family members.

In Lounes, an EU citizen was naturalised as a British citizen only after several years of exercising Treaty rights in the UK, which means that the person was eligible to bring his family members to the UK under European law.


Posted on Aug 21, 2018.

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