High court reporters
A decision by the Minister for Justice to cancel a Pakistani man's residency permit on the grounds that he had entered a marriage of convenience with an EU national has been quashed by the High Court.
Mr Justice Cian Ferriter said the man's application for a residency card, which would allow him to continue to legally live and work in Ireland, should be remitted back to the Minister for a fresh determination.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had challenged the Minister's decision in 2021 to revoke his permission to remain in Ireland.
That was based on a finding that he had fraudulently submitted false or misleading information and had contracted a marriage of convenience when seeking to renew his residency permit.
The man rejected that claim.
The man's judicial review proceedings challenging the Minister's decision were brought on grounds including that the Minister had arrived at her decision in breach of fair procedures and had based her findings without identifying the documentation or information that was allegedly fraudulent.
This, he claimed, had denied him the opportunity to contest the allegations concerning his marriage.
The Minister had also failed to have regard for relevant evidence, it was also claimed.
The Minister opposed the action and said the decision was arrived at following a process that was compliant with fair procedures.
There were also reasonable grounds for finding that the man had entered a marriage of convenience to enable him to lawfully remain Ireland, the Minister also argued. The court heard that the man arrived in Ireland in 2007 on a student visa, which was renewed annually until 2012.
In his judgment Mr Justice Ferriter noted that in breach of the terms of his visa the man had engaged in full-time employment during the currency of his student visa permissions.
In 2012 the man claims he met a Swedish woman, who was holidaying in Ireland at the time.
They remained in contact, and the man claimed that she moved to Ireland in December 2012 and obtained employment here.
After submitting a notice of intention to marry in November 2012, the couple got married on February 14th - Valentine's Day - 2013.
Based on the marriage the man successfully applied for a five-year residency permit. However, difficulties developed between the couple and in September she returned to Sweden, after losing her job in Ireland.
The man said that their difficulties were irreconcilable and divorce proceedings were initiated in Sweden.
Their divorce was finalised in 2017.
Arising out of the divorce, the man sought to regularise his residency in Ireland, arguing that based on EU law grounds he was entitled to remain here.
However, the Minister decided to revoke his permit.
In his judgement Mr Justice Ferriter said that the decision-making process in this case had been invalidated by two matters.
The judge said no material was identified as being fraudulent or falsified. It was he added "not a case where a forged marriage certificate" had been submitted to the Minister.
In this case the judge said that the "self-standing finding" of fraudulent submission of information, separate from the finding that the marriage was one of convenience, does not seem to have been justified on its own terms.
The judge also noted in relation to the Minister's decision there was a failure to properly engage with the evidence and submissions advanced on the issue of the alleged marriage of convenience.
The judge said that there needs to be a proper engagement by the authorities with evidence submitted by the applicant.
"In my view the review decision here fell short of such proper engagement," he said.
While the Minister was entitled to take matters such as the man's transgression of the immigration rules by working full time when on a student visa, he was satisfied that sufficient shortcomings had been identified in the decision-making process.
The man was therefore entitled to an order quashing the Minister's decision.
The judge added that his findings were confined to the lawfulness of the decision and the decision-making process but were not concerned with the underlying merits of the allegation that the marriage was one of convenience.