An unaccompanied minor in the EU who becomes of age during the asylum-seeking procedure retains his/her right to family reunification; this is what comes out of a ruling rendered Thursday by the EU Court of Justice (EUCJ). Such a request, however, must be made within three months from the day the concerned minor is granted refugee status.
In so doing, the EUCJ responds to a prejudicial question put forth by the Den Haag Court, Netherlands. The heart of the matter goes back to 2014, when an Eritrean minor arrived unaccompanied Beyond-Moerdijk. She introduced an asylum request on 26 February, before becoming of age in June of that same year.
On October 21, the Dutch Secretary of State granted this girl a five-year residence permit for asylum. Two months later, a Dutch association requested a temporary residence permit for the concerned individual’s parents (A. and S.), as well as for her three minor brothers as part of the unaccompanied minor’s right to family reunification.
That request was rejected in 2015 by the Secretary of State on the grounds that, when it was introduced, A. and S.’s daughter was of age. A. and S. contested this refusal before the Dutch justice, putting forth the fact that it is the date of entrance in the concerned member State which is decisive in determining if a person may be described as “unaccompanied minor” as meant in the family reunification directive.
The Secretary of State’s view was that the decisive date had to be that of the family reunification request. The EUCJ finally agreed with A. and S.’s interpretation, while clarifying that any family reunification request had to be introduced within a reasonable period, i.e., in principle, three months following the day when the concerned minor was granted refugee status.