CJEU - C-484/17, K v Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie

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Date of Decision: 
07-11-2018
Citation: 
C-484/17
Additional Citation: 
ECLI:EU:C:2018:878
Court Name: 
Court of Justice of the European Union (Third Chamber)
Relevant Legislative Provisions: 
European Union Law
Headnote: 

Member States may require individuals who have been residing in the country by virtue of family reunification to pass a civic integration examination on the language and society of the country in order to be granted an autonomous residence permit. However, the requirements for passing this test must not go beyond what is necessary to attain the objective of facilitating integration.

Facts: 

For ten years, the Applicant held a residence permit to reside in the Netherlands with her spouse, a third country national. In 2015, she lodged an application to change that permit into an extended residence permit.

The Dutch authorities rejected that application on the ground that K had not proved that she had passed, was not subject to, or had been exempted from, the civil integration requirement. The authorities also withdrew K’s residence permit to reside with a spouse with retroactive effect to 19 August 2011 on the ground that, from that date, she was no longer living at the same address as her spouse.

The Dutch authorities asked the Court if Article 15(1) and (4) of Directive 2003/86 (Family Reunification) precludes national legislation, which permits an application for an autonomous residence permit, lodged by a third country national who has resided over five years in a Member State by virtue of family reunification, to be rejected on the ground that he has not shown that he has passed a civic integration test on the language and society of that Member State. The Court first sets out that it follows from a combined reading of those Article 15(1) and (4) that, although issuing an autonomous residence permit is, in principle, an entitlement arising from five years of residence in a Member State by virtue of family reunification, the EU legislature nevertheless authorised the Member States to subject the grant of such a permit to certain conditions, which it left to be defined by the Member States.

The Court referenced C and A (C‑257/17), noting that it cannot be ruled out that a Member State may subject the grant of an autonomous residence permit to passing a civic integration examination on the language and society of that Member State.

However, national authorities must ensure  that the knowledge required to pass the civic integration examination is at a basic level, that the condition imposed by the national legislation does not lead to an autonomous residence permit not being granted to third country nationals who have demonstrated their willingness to pass the examination and have made every effort to achieve that objective, that due account is taken of specific individual circumstances and that the fees relating to that examination are not excessive.

Circumstances, (e.g. age, level of education, economic situation or health of a sponsor’s relevant family members) must lead the competent authorities not to subject the grant of an autonomous residence permit to passing a civic integration examination, when, due to those circumstances, they are unable to take or pass that examination.

Outcome: 

Article 15(1) and (4) of Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification does not preclude national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which permits an application for an autonomous residence permit, lodged by a third country national who has resided over five years in a Member State by virtue of family reunification, to be rejected on the ground that he has not shown that he has passed a civic integration test on the language and society of that Member State provided that the detailed rules for the requirement to pass that examination do not go beyond what is necessary to attain the objective of facilitating the integration of those third country nationals, which is for the referring court to ascertain.

Authentic Language: 
English
Country of preliminary reference: 
Netherlands
National / Other Legislative Provisions: 
Vreemdelingenbesluit 2000 (Decree on foreign nationals 2000): Article 3.51
Article 3.80
Wet inburgering (Law on Civic Integration): Article 6(1)
Article 7 (1) and (2)