Surinder Singh route still requires genuine residence abroad

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that in order to benefit from the Surinder Singh principle, the family involved must have genuinely resided in another EU country and have created or fortified their family life there.

In Kaur & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 98 it rejected the argument that, as a result of the Court of Justice decision in C-202/13 McCarthy No.2, anyone with a residence card from another member state is entitled to have their family come and live with them in the United Kingdom.

The facts of this case are not attractive. Mr Singh and Mrs Kaur had previously been married but divorced in 2004. The following year Mr Singh married a Polish national, obtained residence rights in the UK and became a British citizen in 2012. In 2013 he divorced his Polish wife and re-married Mrs Kaur. The couple went to live in Bulgaria with their children for 19 days in 2017 and Mr Singh obtained a residence permit. Then the family returned to the UK.

The couple sought to rely on the Surinder Singh principle to get residence rights for Mrs Kaur and their children. That principle allows EU citizens to obtain residence rights for family members in their home country if they move elsewhere in the EU and then return. The idea is to ensure that EU citizens are not discouraged from moving to other European countries.

To prevent abuse, the residence abroad must be genuine and in some way create or fortify family life.

At their initial appeal the First-tier Tribunal, perhaps unsurprisingly, found that the residence in Bulgaria was not genuine and there was no attempt to develop a family life there. Nonetheless, it allowed the appeal on the ground that, following the decision in McCarthy No.2, any EU citizen with a residence card must be permitted to enter with their family members.

The Upper Tribunal rejected that argument and the Court of Appeal was equally dismissive, ruling that McCarthy No. 2 was concerned with the procedural requirements on entry and not the substantive rules for residence rights.

Having reach that conclusion it was inevitable that the appeal would be dismissed as a result of the First-tier Tribunal’s findings that the period of residence in Bulgaria was not genuine.

Posted on Feb 13, 2020.


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