Bringing your Child to the UK

A child for immigration purposes is a person under the age of 18, who is unmarried and is not living an independent lifestyle and is dependent on their parents who have the finance and accommodation to maintain their child, and this article is also written for those single parents living in the UK lawfully as permanent residents or as British citizens who had for whatever reason left their child abroad, say looked after by a relative, but who nevertheless have always had sole responsibility towards their child abroad through various measures, to include looking after the child’s best interests from the UK as regards education, medical care, payment of fees and general welfare. This article is also written for those single parents who have not had sole responsibility towards their child abroad.


Related Topics

⇒ 7 Years Child Residency Immigration Rule in the UK 
⇒ Adopted Children of British Citizens or Settled Persons
⇒ Apply for a visa for a child
⇒ ILR for a child born outside the UK 
⇒ Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
⇒ Parent of a British Child or Child with ILR
⇒ Sponsoring your nephew/niece to come to the UK


How to Bring your Child to the UK?

Commonly, a child may wish to join both their parents here who reside in the UK lawfully, but for various reasons could not join before, for example, due to the need to complete their education before travelling to join parents here who may be permanent residents or British citizens, and there may also be cases where there is an adult child wishing to join, where there needs to be shown some detriment to the adult child if they were not able to join family here. 

If the child is coming to the UK to live with only one parent, and the other parent is dead, or the sole parent with such immigration status in the UK has had the sole responsibility towards the child’s upbringing, the child will be granted indefinite leave to enter the UK. For further details on sole responsibility, see the subparagraph below entitled Sole Responsibility.

If the sole parent has not had sole responsibility over the child who has been looked after by a third party relative abroad, and the sole parent wants the child to join them in the UK now, then the child must show that there are serious and compelling family or other considerations that mean it would otherwise be undesirable to exclude the child from the UK. 

This requirement of showing there must be serious and compelling reasons why exclusion would be undesirable also needs to be proved if the child is coming to the UK to live with a relative who is not the parent and that relative is a British citizen or settled here.

British citizens parents or those with limited or indefinite leave to remain who are currently living in the UK or outside, can bring their dependent child to the UK. The child will be given limited leave if the parents have limited leave and indefinite leave to enter if the parents are settled here or are British citizens.

The rules, therefore, are different for parents who are British citizens or settled persons, and those with limited leave to remain. Those with limited leave cannot bring their child here longer than their own limited leave, so the child will be granted leave to enter in line with their parents leave and will be given further leave to remain in the country if their parents apply to extend their leave. If by that time the child is over 18, provided that the adult child is not living an independent lifestyle, is still maintained and accommodated by the parents at home and was given leave to enter to join parents when a child under the age of 18, then there should be no issue in getting a further extension of stay in line with that of their parents leave. 

If the child’s biological parent is in the UK on the basis of marriage and is applying for settlement based on marriage to their British spouse or partner, and the child is already here on limited leave (in line with their biological parent’s leave), then the biological parent can include the child as their dependent in their application for settlement (indefinite leave / ILR), when making that application in-country. 

If the parents are British citizens or settled here at the time of the application for the minor child to come to the UK, then the child can be granted indefinite leave to enter to join their parents. The same is true if one parent is a British citizen or settled in the UK, and the childs other parent is applying to come to the UK to join their spouse.


Part 8 of the Immigration Rules

If you are in the UK and obtain indefinite Leave to Remain or are a British citizen and want to apply to bring your child to the UK, you must refer to Part 8 of the Immigration Rules which an immigration lawyer can advise you on. 


Sole Responsibility

A main requirement for a child of a parent to gain entry clearance to the UK is that the child applicant must show that the parent who is inviting them has sole responsibility for their upbringing. This must be accounted for and proved in the application through the evidence provided. The immigration term “responsibility” must not be confused for something that is related to legal obligation but rather to practical ones. Each case of bringing a child to the UK is unique, and the evidence will be assessed independently on who is solely responsible for the child in question. 

Responsibility in this sense may have been for a short or long period and also may have been undertaken by other individuals who are not the child’s parent. The term “sole responsibility” does not just apply to the parents of a child, sometimes even if a child only has a single parent, that parent may not even have the sole responsibility for them.

Understandably so, when a parent lives in another country, the responsibility for the child’s wellbeing may be shared by others, such as grandparents, relatives or friends of the child’s parent due to the fact that there is a geographical separation between child and Parent. In the grand scheme of things, this does not stop a parent having sole responsibility within the meaning of this term under the UK immigration rules. The main thing to find out is if anyone else besides the parent has had the day to day responsibility for the child’s life and if the parent has continuing control of the direction of the child’s upbringing and wellbeing form the UK. 


Evidential Burden

In order for an application to be successful, immigration officers at the ports of entry in the UK, or entry clearance officers (if the child is a visa national and requires a visa to come to the UK), who decide upon admission of the child or their entry clearance must have all the evidence to satisfy the rules. The parent of the child must show that they have the means to support the child and can also emotionally support the child, and have enough time to spare for duties related to the child etc. 


Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain for a Child

To summaries most of what has been said in this article in the context of the immigration rules, reference is also made to paragraph 298 of the immigration rules which covers the issue of indefinite leave to remain for a child. As already noted, such an application has to be made by a child who has parents who also have indefinite leave to remain or are British citizens and the child is applying to remain with their parents in the UK under one of the following criteria. 

  1. Both of the childs parents are present orsettled in the UK; or
  2. One of the childs parents is present and settled in the UK, and the other parent is dead; or
  3. One of childs parents is present and settled in the UK and also has sole responsibility over the child and its upbringing, or the child normally lives with this particular parent and not his/her other parent; or
  4. One of the childs parents or relatives is present and settled in the UK, and can demonstrate a serious and compelling family reason or other considerations which make the exclusion of the child undesirable because arrangements have already been made for the child’s care.

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