The family stayed on in Belgium, and Ruiz found work despite not having a residency or work permit. In the meantime, the couple had two more children, who were eligible for Belgian nationality. Ruiz lost his job and applied for benefits, which were refused. He appealed to the employment tribunal, which addressed the case to the European Court.
The court’s ruling went further than that question and declared that a member state must “allow third country nationals who are parents of a child who is a national of that Member State to reside and work there, where a refusal to do so would deprive that child of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights attaching to the status of citizen of the Union”.
The case has implications for other countries, which are now obliged to deliver residency permits to the parents of children born into citizenship. It also has wider implications: the same parents, now legally resident in the EU, have the same rights as anyone else to move freely within the Union.