The applicant was granted refugee status as a minor on 25 September 2014. In July 2018, when the applicant was aged 17, an application for family reunification in respect of her mother, father and sister was submitted by her social worker. In September 2018 the application was refused by the Minister for Justice on the basis that it had not been submitted within 12 months of the grant of refugee status as required by section 56(8) of the International Protection Act 2015. The applicant then instituted proceedings challenging the constitutionality and ECHR compatibility of the 12 month time limit in section 56(8) of the 2015 Act, which does not permit extensions of time in any circumstances. In the applicant’s case, she had not submitted the application within 12 months as the whereabouts of her family were unknown during that period.
The High Court dismissed the challenge, holding that the applicant had failed to provide evidence that she was unable to submit the application within 12 months of the grant of refugee status. The High Court went on to address the applicant’s substantive complaints in the event that this finding was incorrect. The High Court held in the first instance that the applicant should have availed of an available alternative remedy, namely applications for visas pursuant to general immigration law as governed by the INIS Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification. Humphreys J went on to hold that it was not in breach of the Constitution to have a 12 month time limit for the making of an application for refugee family reunification, because there was no inherent constitutional right to family reunification for a person granted permission to reside in the State as a refugee. Even if there was such a right, Humphreys J was satisfied that the 12 month time limit was generous, and could not be said to be disproportionate. Humphreys J also rejected the complaint that the 12 month time limit was in breach of the ECHR, and therefore dismissed the proceedings. On 21 January 2020 the Supreme Court granted the applicant leave to bring an appeal directly to that court ( IESCDET 4). The appeal has not been heard at the time of writing.
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