EU Court of Justice on family reunification of unaccompanied minor refugees
In a judgment handed down today, the EU Court of Justice responded to a Dutch prejudicial question on family reunification of (unaccompanied minor) refugees. Following the reasoning of the Court, an unaccompanied minor who attains the age of majority during the asylum procedure retains its right to family reunification.
The Directive on Family reunification provides more favourable conditions for refugees for the exercise of their right to family reunification, and this on account of the reasons that obliged them to flee their country and prevent them from leading a normal family life. More specifically, unaccompanied minors with an international protection status have a right to reunification with their parents, and in this case member states can never impose conditions concerning means of subsistence, housing and health insurance.
A Dutch Court (rechtbank Den Haag) asked in a specific case clarifications on this part of the family reunification directive, and this through a prejudicial question to the European Court of Justice: at what moment should the person be below the age of 18 years to qualify as a minor in this sense?
Following the reasoning of the Court, an unaccompanied minor who attains the age of majority during the asylum procedure retains its right to family reunification. Therefore, it is the moment of submitting an asylum application which is relevant to be regarded as a minor, and to rely on the more favourable conditions for an unaccompanied minor refugee, as mentioned. However, the Court also makes clear that such an application for family reunification must be made within a reasonable time, in principle within three months of the date on which the minor concerned is recognised as having refugee status.