Monday, August 25, 2014

A SUMMARY OF THE FINANCIAL RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION

The Policy document on Non-EEA Family Reunification sets out the thresholds to be applied when accessing family reunification applications involving immediate family members:

· the nuclear family (married partners and children living in the same household); and

· de facto partners (a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis).

As the document points out, it must be recognised that “the financial capacity is just one of the conditions to be satisfied for family reunification to take place”. That being said, a significant amount of emphasis is placed on the financial requirements so as to avoid a situation where the applicant becomes a financial burden on the state.

Depending on the status of the sponsor, different sets of financial guidelines apply to particular cases:

The Sponsor is an Irish Citizen

Where the sponsor holds Irish citizenship, the guidelines are two tiered. Firstly, the sponsor must not have been reliant on state assistance for a continuous period in excess of 2 years, immediately prior to the application. They must not have been a burden on the state. Secondly, in the three year period prior to the application, the sponsor must have “earned a cumulative gross income over and above any state benefits of not less than €40k”.

The Sponsor is a Non-EEA National

In cases where a sponsor is not a national of a European Economic Area country the guidelines to be applied depend on which sub-category they fall into.

Category A sponsors include:

· Green Card Holders

· Investors

· Entrepreneurs

· Business Permission Holders

· Researchers

· INIS Approved Scholarship Programme Students (e.g. KASP)

· Intra Corporate Transferees

· PhD Students (subject to conditions including no recourse to social welfare payments)

· Full Time Non-Locum Doctors in Employment

In this category, it is possible for family reunification to take place before any earnings are accumulated. For this to be the case, the sponsor and their immediate family members subject to the family reunification application must continue to meet the conditions which their permission to reside in the state is based on. On renewal of their permission, evidence of such must be provided. For green card holders and investors, this will be accessed based on “achieving the levels of earnings projected”. While in the case of PhD students, time limits are applied and academic advancement must be evidenced. In addition to the particular requirements of a Category A sponsors status, the policy document sets out that there must not be “recourse to social welfare payments” i.e. neither the sponsor nor their family members may become a burden on the state.

Category B sponsors include:

· Non Green Card Employment Permit Holders

· All Stamp 4 Holders not covered by other more favourable arrangements

· Ministers of Religion who are not maintained by the church, in cases where they are it may be possible for these sponsors to be considered under Category A

This category of sponsors must have a gross income in both of the previous two years, in excess of the level applied by the department of Social Protection in assessing eligibility for Family Income Supplement. Based on the FIS, families with children are required to have the following net incomes per week; which are based on the number of children:

· 1 child - €506

· 2 children - €602

· 3 children - €703

· 4 children - €824

· 5 Children - €950

Where a couple does not have any children, the FIS does not apply. In cases where these requirements are met, there is a reasonable expectation that they will continue to be met in the future. Where a sponsor falls short of the required level, declared and verified savings may be taken into account.  However, as previously stated, these are mere guidelines and may not be strictly adhered to. The deciding officer assessing a particular case is afforded a certain level of discretion where there are “doubts regarding the sustainability of earnings”.
Regardless of which category the sponsor falls into, the onus of proof to satisfy the immigration authorities is on the applicant.

The Policy document on Non-EEA Family Reunification may be viewed here. Section 17, pages 39 to 41, set out the guidelines discussed above.

Brophy Solicitors

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