The European Court of Justice has ruled to stop the UK from preventing family members who were originally from outside of the EU from coming back to Britain to visit other family members who live there.
The court ruled in favour of Sean McCarthy, who has UK and Irish citizenship, but who lives in Spain, and his wife, Patricia McCarthy Rodriguez, who was born in Colombia. They said that she should be allowed to travel to the UK to visit family members without applying for a permit, because she has a Spanish-issued EU residence card. The judges agreed.
The couple appealed to the European Court after the UK Government demanded she applied for a family permit UK visa every six months. The court said that under European freedom of movement rules Mrs McCarthy was entitled to travel to Britain without applying for a UK visa.
Mr McCarthy told the BBC: "As a British national I had expected my country to play by the rules, and now the court has finally forced the UK to respect British and European citizens' free movement rights."
Judges said that Britain cannot demand such visa applications from non-EU citizens now resident in Europe, despite the UK Government raising concerns about people abusing the situation and about potential fraud.
The ruling is now likely to set a precedent in other similar cases. The British Government had originally demanded the additional visas because it was concerned about security standards in other EU nations. It is now deciding how to respond to the ruling.