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Laura Hutton/
Court of Appeal

Decision upheld to refuse Irish residency to Indian woman who entered marriage of convenience

The case was heard before the Court of Appeal today.

THE COURT OF Appeal has upheld the Minister for Justice’s refusal to allow an Indian woman found to have entered into a marriage of convenience with an EU national to continue to reside in Ireland.

Lawyers acting for the pair had claimed that the 2012 marriage was genuine.

The Court of Appeal, in finding the Minister’s decision was lawful, said in its judgement that the woman told members of the Garda National Immigration Bureau in a 2018 interview that the pair had never lived together, were friends and they had married because “she needed a visa”.

She also said in the interview that while the pair were married the man’s EU national girlfriend became pregnant.

However a subsequent letter from her lawyers denied that that the relationship was based on the woman obtaining a visa to remain in Ireland.

It was claimed that the fast pace of the relationship was due to the family’s disapproval of them living together while unmarried.

The letter stated that the relationship broke down, and they started to live separately following the man’s infidelity with his ex-girlfriends which had resulting in the birth of a child in 2013.

The couple had attempted a reconciliation in 2016, the court also heard.

The couple, who said they provided documentation supporting their claims, brought High Court proceedings challenging the Minister’s refusal to renew and ultimately revoke the woman’s Irish residency in July 2018.

She came to Ireland in 2006 on a student visa.

The man moved to Ireland in 2011, and is a citizen of another EU country.

They claimed to have met in February 2012, while working together, and married the following September, shortly before her then visa was due to expire.

Based on her marriage to an EU national she secured a five year residence card. In 2017, she applied to have that card renewed.

However, the Minister for Justice refused to that applicant in 2018 over concerns about the marriage. The initial decision by the Minister was later upheld following an internal review in 2021.

In High Court judicial review proceedings against that finding the couple’s lawyers claimed that the Minister had erred by wrongly placed the onus of proof on them to prove the validity of the marriage.

The woman should also have been given an oral hearing before the Minister made the decision not to renew the woman’s residency.

The Minister rejected claims that the decision was flawed.

In 2022, Mr Justice Cian Ferriter rejected the couple’s arguments, said no error of law had been found in regards to the Minister’s decision and dismissed the action.

That finding was appealed to the Court of Appeal, which was opposed by the Minister.

In its decision the three judge Court of Appeal comprised of Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, Ms Justice Una Ní Raifeartaigh, and Ms Justice Ann Power dismissed the appeal.

Giving the Court of Appeal’s decision Ms Justice Power said the court could find no error of law contained in the High Court’s judgement, nor with the Minister’s decision.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the finding that the woman was not entitled to an oral hearing prior to the Minister’s decision not to renew the visa.

“The legal basis of the Minister’s decision was clear” and “the procedural safeguards required by law were observed,” the Court of Appeal said.

The woman had been informed of the Minister’s “well founded suspicion” that the marriage was one of a convenience and had been given a meaningful opportunity to furnish any information she wished to in response to the Minister concerns.

The Court of Appeal added the fact that information, explanations and evidence supplied by the applicants about their relationship were found to be unconvincing was not a reason to set aside the Minister’s decision. In all the circumstances the appeal was refused.

Aodhan O Faolain