(CN) – European countries that grant citizenship to children born on their soil must also give the children’s parents residency and work permits, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled Tuesday.
Belgium had initially denied the petition for asylum of a Colombian couple and ordered them to leave. But Ruiz Zambrano signed a work contract and the mother gave birth to two children.
Though Zambrano’s children became Belgian citizens under national law, he and his wife, applying for residency as parents of citizens, were again denied. Zambrano challenged this decision, as well as the Belgian government’s denial of his application for unemployment benefits.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice began its ruling by saying that EU member countries have sole jurisdiction to set the conditions for nationality in their states.
But it is the right of minor citizens of the European Union that their parents live and work in the EU, the court continued.
Accordingly, Belgium must grant the Zambranos residency and work permits, the European high court concluded.
Most European countries grant citizenship through bloodline and not by birth. The United Kingdom and France are among the minority in granting birthright citizenship. Some European countries, including Belgium, grant citizenship by birth under certain conditions.