The Court of Justice for the European Union has ruled that EU citizens who settle in the UK and become British citizens by naturalisation should retain their rights to freedom of movement. The court also found that the Home Office has been wrongly refusing to acknowledge freedom of movement for EU citizens naturalised in the UK since 2012.

This case is of significance to EU citizens who have chosen to naturalise in the UK following the Brexit referendum. While these rights might be lost following the Brexit proceedings, it is still significant for those already living in the UK. Specifically, the courts ruled that EU citizens who naturalise as British citizens do not lose their right to bring non-EU spouses to the UK.

The case concerns a Spanish woman who moved to the UK in 1996 and acquired permanent residence and later naturalised as a British citizen. She held dual British and Spanish citizenship. She later married an Algerian national and he moved to the UK to live with her. The issue arose when the Home Office wanted her to meet the strict requirements for a spousal visa, rather than allowing her to bring her partner to the UK, as a Spanish national would be allowed to.

The courts ruled that the Home Office could not deport her Algerian partner as his rights were covered under Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU which states: “Every citizen of the Union shall have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, subject to the limitations and conditions laid down in the Treaties and by the measures adopted to give them effect.”

If you are an EU national who has naturalised in the UK and had an application denied, you should consider reapplying. The Home Office will now have to adjust their stance to these cases and applications should now be successful. At the moment, not much is known about what will happen to third-country nationals after Brexit, but we will strive to update our readers when we find out more.