Germany Was Too Harsh With Tunisian Student

     (CN) – It was illegal for Germany to deny a student visa to the Tunisian man it deemed a poor student lacking concrete career goals, Europe’s highest court ruled Wednesday.
     Mohamed Ali Ben Alaya, who was born in Germany but left at age 7, studied information technology at a university in Tunisia. He planned to move back to Germany, however, and a school in Dortmund even accepted him several times to study mathematics.
     Citing Ben Alaya’s poor grades, weak grasp of the German language and no connection between what he planned to study and his career goals, however, German immigration officials questioned the man’s motivation for wanting to study there and denied his visa applications.
     In a subsequent lawsuit against the German government, Ben Alaya argued that he planned to enroll in the university’s language-training program to learn German, and that his father – a German resident – would support him throughout his studies.
     The Berlin court asked the European Court of Justice whether EU law requires giving third-country nationals student visas as long as they meet certain criteria, or whether immigration officials have the authority to deny the applications as German courts have previously held.
     On Wednesday the Luxembourg-based high court found that EU law unequivocally limits immigration authorities in denying student visas only where the applicant is a threat to public policy, security or public health. Member states have discretion to deny visas to exchange students and unpaid trainees alone, the court said.
     “The directive is intended to promote the mobility of students who are third-country nationals to the European Union for the purpose of education, that mobility being intended to promote Europe as a world center of excellence for studies and vocational training,” the court wrote.
     Aligning national immigration law with regard to student visas helps to achieve that goal, the court added.
     “In the present case, the documents before the court suggest that, in the main proceedings, Ben Alaya meets the general and specific conditions laid down in the law,” its decision states. “In particular, none of the grounds listed in that directive appears to have been raised against him by the German authorities. Accordingly, in a situation such as that of the case before the referring court, it appears that a residence permit ought to have been issued to him by the national authorities. That is a matter for the national court to verify.”

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