Member states of the European Union must allow parents of underage children to live and work in that European country. That was decided on Tuesday by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The child will be given - and must take - the nationality of the relevant European country.
The court made the ruling in the case of a Colombian couple with two children. After their birth, the children were given Belgian nationality. The father lodged an appeal because Belgium had denied him a residence permit and unemployment benefits.
In response, the Brussels Labour Court asked the European Court whether the parents had the right to live and work in Belgium under European law. The court ruled that they do indeed have this right. Refusal would mean that their children could not exercise their rights as citizens of the European Union.
According to Dutch immigration lawyer Hans Langenberg, it's still unclear exactly how this statement should be interpreted. In his eyes there are two requirements:
- Whoever wants to stay in the European Union must have a child with the nationality of one of the EU member states.
- The child with EU nationality must reside in an EU country.
Lawyer Hans Langenberg believes this could potentially cause a doomsday scenario: Children could be separated from a non-European parent living in an EU country before the parent has had time to apply for a temporary residence permit.