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Internal Market: Liechtenstein restricts rights of third country EEA family members during divorce proceedings



As soon as a married couple files for divorce in Liechtenstein, the authorities start a procedure to revoke residence rights of third country nationals concerned. The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) considers this practice to be in breach of EEA rules and has today sent a reasoned opinion to Liechtenstein.

Generally, under Liechtenstein law, both spouses must agree to divorce. In the case of no agreement, the law states that the couple should be given a three year trial period before the divorce is finalised. However, when one of the spouses involved is a third country national, the authorities begin proceedings to revoke their residence rights as soon as this trial period starts. This forces them to leave the country before the divorce is finalised.

“According to EEA law, a spouse is considered to be a family member until the divorce is finalised, and should therefore have rights as such”, says ESA College Member Frank J. Büchel.

In ESA's view, these proceedings constitute a violation of the Residence Directive. Liechtenstein has failed to show that this practice is in line with EEA law.

Today's reasoned opinion is the second step in ESA's formal infringement procedure against Liechtenstein. The government of Liechtenstein is now given two months to express its views, after which ESA may decide to refer the case to the EFTA Court. 

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Anne Vestbakke
Head of Communications
tel. +32 2 286 18 66
mob. +32 490 57 63 53

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