NI: Amended family migration rules come into effect
New immigration rules allowing for family members of people in Northern Ireland to apply for status under the EU settlement scheme have come into force.
The revised rules specify that a “relevant person of Northern Ireland” – meaning a British citizen, an Irish citizen, or British-Irish dual citizen who was born in Northern Ireland – should be treated as an EEA citizen for the purposes of the scheme.
The changes, which were announced in May after being agreed in January as part of the deal to restore devolution, follow years of campaigning by Emma DeSouza and her husband.
Mrs DeSouza’s US-born husband Jake applied in 2015 for a residence card as the spouse of an EEA national, but was refused on the basis that she did not fall within the definition of “EEA national” as a “national of an EEA state who is not also a British citizen”.
She argued, however, that this came into conflict with the Good Friday Agreement, which sets out “the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British or both, as they may so choose”.
An immigration tribunal found in favour of the couple in 2017, but the decision was overturned by the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) last October and was due to be brought before the Court of Appeal in Belfast.
Her court battle came to an end after the announcement of the changed rules.