France: Interim relief judge of the Council of State suspends the Government’s decision to halt the issuance of family reunification visas

Friday, January 22, 2021

On 22 January 2021, the interim relief judge of the Council of State decided to suspend the Government’s decision to halt the issuance of family reunification visas due the COVID-19 pandemic to the spouses and children of non-European foreigners residing in France. 
On 18 March 2020, the French Government decided to limit the movement of persons wishing to enter the country from abroad due to the state’s health emergency on the basis of Article 4 and 6 of the Schengen Borders Code. This measure was subsequently renewed on three occasions. A number of French NGOs along with four applicants, requested the Council of State to order the suspension of the measure.  
The Council of State accepted that the number of the people benefitting from family reunification is normally equivalent to 60 people per day, based on figures from 2019 and without taking into account the reduction in flights. Comparing this small figure with the millions who are excluded from exemptions and continue to travel, the judge accepted that it has not been established that such a flow could contribute significantly to an increased risk of the spread of COVID-19. Likewise, it accepted that the recently reinforced screening and isolation measures to cope with the appearance of new variant of COVID-19 could be applied to non-European beneficiaries of family reunification, as well as to the people who are already permitted to enter the territory under an exemption.
Additionally, the interim relief judge noted that the measure has seriously undermined both the right to a family life of the applicants and the best interests of the children in question for more than ten months. Further, it concluded that the regulations were disproportionate because exemptions for beneficiaries of family reunification were not provided. 
In that regard, the interim relief judge for the Council of State held there is serious doubt as to the legality of the measures and as such, justified its suspension. 

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Family reunification
Family unity (right to)