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Couple take fight to High Court to get daughter back from China

Three-year-old Jiayi Shao has been in China since 2009.

Meijiao Yu and her husband Xiao Shao hold a picture of their daughter Jiayi.
Meijiao Yu and her husband Xiao Shao hold a picture of their daughter Jiayi.
Image: Immigrant Council of Ireland

MEIJIAO YU AND Xiao Shao have lived in Ireland since 2003 and 2004 respectively. They have worked consistently and have not relied on social welfare. Their three-year-old daughter – who was born in Ireland – has been refused entry into the country.

The couple have taken their fight to the High Court, which today granted the family leave to apply for a judicial review of the case.

Jiayi Shao was born on 8 May 2009 in Ireland. When she was four-months-old, her parents decided to send her to China to live with her paternal grandparents for a short time. But when they sought a visa for her return, their application was rejected.

Meijiao came to Ireland to study when she was 19. She was a legal resident through Stamp 2 (student residence permission) from 2003 until 2012 when she was granted an extension of her permission. This allowed her to work for 40 hours per week, without a study requirement. Similarly, her husband arrived in 2004 and was legally resident at all times as a student until he was granted the same permission and is now running his own business in the State.

Despite their legal status, the 2004 Student Probationary Extension permit does not allow for children to join their parents resident under this scheme and does not provide an exemption for children born in Ireland.

The Immigration Council of Ireland, which is supporting the legal challenge, say that the couple are in a position to support their daughter and pay for their own health insurance.

Senior solicitor for the agency Hilkka Becker said she hopes the High Court’s decision will allow for a swift conclusion of this case.

“This family have been torn apart for over three years, with the infant Jiayi Shao refused a visa to re-enter Ireland after staying temporarily with her grandparents in China.”

The council’s Independent Law Centre will continue to support the family as it seeks reunification.

Chief executive of the Immigrant Council Denise Charlton has called on the government to review the rules governing families who live apart from their loved ones.

She said there are “many more” Irish citizens living legally in this country who are separated from other family members.

“The overall solution for these cases is for the introduction of clear rules on family reunification which are fair and just for all,” she concluded.

Read: Supreme Court to deliver verdict in ‘right to die’ case next week

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