New bill to tighten up family reunification rules: no more automatic approval

22 November 2019

The N-VA has a bill ready to prevent requests for family reunification being implicitly approved if the legal deadline expires. With the bill, it is putting into practice a verdict from the European Court of Justice on family reunification.

European Court blows the whistle on Council of State

Does a third-country national have the automatic right to family reunification if his or her request was not processed within the legal timeframe, even if he or she does not satisfy the conditions? The European Court of Justice doesn’t think so. This week, the European Court blew the whistle on the Belgian Council of State in this regard. The latter assumed an implicit approval if the legal deadline had been exceeded, but according to the European Court that is contrary to the guidelines for family reunification.

Implicit approval abolished

With its bill, the N-VA wishes to legislate in line with the conclusion of the European Court. “With our bill, we are once again tightening up, in the light of the recent judgement, the law on family reunification. We are abolishing the implicit approval of a request for family reunification if the legal deadline is exceeded.”

No tacit agreement

European legislation obliges Belgium to work towards a decision for family reunification within six months for Belgian and EU citizens and nine months for non-EU-citizens. “We have to comply with that. Government services will continue to work towards a decision within the deadline imposed, but if it is not met a substantive decision must be awaited and under no circumstances must a tacit agreement be given. The right to the automatic approval of the request if the legal deadline is not met simply lapses,” concludes the N-VA.

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