One of the discrepancies in the current immigration system is that EU nationals enjoy more generous rights to bring family members to the UK, than British nationals. This is thanks to European case law which found that EU nationals should be allowed to bring non-EU family members to the UK otherwise they would be prevented from exercising their free movement rights. British nationals can only do this if they have first exercised their Treaty rights in another country, or are able to meet the stringent requirements of the Immigration Rules.

The Home Office’s approach is that those with dual British/EU nationality should be considered under the Immigration Rules. In the case of Louanes, the European Court of Justice acknowledged that the EU Directive suggests this is correct. Nevertheless the ECJ held that a Spanish citizen who naturalised as a British national could still rely on her more beneficial free movement rights to bring her Algerian husband to the UK. This was because the right to free movement within the EU (and the derivative rights that can be enjoyed by non-EU family members) come from the superior and overarching Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The ECJ said that EU citizens who take on dual nationality must still be able to exercise their Treaty rights, and should not be penalised for seeking to integrate in the society of their new home country.

This case will be of interest to the many EU nationals who have or who are considering applying for British nationality, as well as to British nationals living elsewhere in the EU. However, its long term effects will depend on what transition arrangements are negotiated as part of Brexit. Those who wish to rely on this case to bring non-EU family members to join them should take legal advice now.