No right for aliens to enter the UK to visit relatives

In the case in question, a Pakistani national, living in Pakistan, had wanted to bring his family to the UK to visit a sick relative. When permission for the visit was refused, his lawyers argued that this was a disproportionate violation of his right to develop a private life, as guaranteed by article 8 of the Convention.

The court said that the state did not have a positive obligation on grounds of private life (where no relevant family life existed) to grant entry clearance for an adult to visit an elderly relative located in the UK.

If the court had decided the opposite, it would have had a striking effect and undermine the often-repeated starting point of the European Court of Human Rights that a state has the right as a matter of well-established international law to control the entry, residence and expulsion of aliens. Private life as a concept has a broad reach, by contrast with the concept of family life, and the prospect of a very large number of individuals relying on “private life” in support of applications for short and long-term stays would have been inevitable.