UK Child Visitor Visa: Comprehensive Guide, Tips & Requirements
A UK Child Visitor Visa allows children under the age of 18 to visit the UK for a short period, usually up to 6 months. This visa category ensures the welfare and safety of the child during their stay. It is essential to meet specific requirements and provide necessary documentation for a successful application.
Updated as of March 20, 2023, to ensure the latest UK Child Visitor Visa requirements are reflected.
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UK Child Visitor Visa Application Requirements
If a child is travelling or residing in the UK without a parent or guardian, the standard visitor visa application must establish proper care and reception arrangements. Parental consent requirements must also be met, such as a letter of consent for a child visit visa UK.
Eligibility Criteria for a Child Visitor Visa
To qualify for a UK Child Visitor Visa, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Be under 18 years of age
- Have a valid reason for visiting the UK, such as tourism, family visits, or short-term study
- Intend to leave the UK after the visit
- Possess financial means to support themselves without recourse to public funds
- Have made adequate travel, reception, and care arrangements
- Have a parent or guardian in their home country responsible for their care
- Obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian
Documents Required for the Application
Applicants must provide the following documents when applying for a UK Child Visitor Visa:
- A valid passport or travel document with at least one blank page
- A recent, color passport-sized photograph
- Evidence of financial support during their stay (e.g., bank statements, payslips, or a letter from the child’s parent/guardian)
- Details of the child’s travel itinerary, including arrival and departure dates
- Proof of accommodation in the UK (e.g., hotel booking or a letter from the host)
- A signed letter of consent from the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) granting travel permission
- If the child is traveling with someone other than their parent/guardian, a letter from the responsible adult
Applying for a UK Child Visitor Visa
Follow these steps to apply for a UK Child Visitor Visa:
- Complete the online visa application form (VAF1A) on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.
- Pay the visa application fee (currently £100).
- Book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to submit biometric information (fingerprints and photograph).
- Attend the VAC appointment with the child’s original documents, a printed copy of the completed application form, and appointment confirmation.
- Await the visa decision, typically taking 3-4 weeks.
Tips for a Successful UK Child Visitor Visa Application
To ensure a smooth application process, consider these tips:
- Double-check eligibility criteria and confirm the child meets all requirements.
- Complete the online application form thoroughly and accurately.
- Gather required documents well in advance to avoid last-minute stress.
- If possible, provide additional supporting documents to strengthen the application (e.g., a letter from the child’s school confirming enrollment).
- Apply well ahead of the intended travel date to allow for potential processing delays.
Child Welfare Duty
The Home Office, as per Section 55 of the 2009 Act, has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. When a child under 18 applies for a Type-C visitor visa, the Home Office carefully considers the child’s welfare. If:
Details are missing or unclear, or other factors raise concerns about the child’s welfare, the immigration officer may make further enquiries to:
- Confirm the identity and residence of the UK host
- Ensure that the UK host expects the child’s arrival
After further enquiries, there are concerns about the child’s welfare, the decision-maker may refuse the application.
If there are concerns about the child’s welfare at the border, the Home Office may contact the Local Authority Children’s Services Department and the police. The local authority will investigate and advise on the sponsor’s suitability, and take the child into care if:
- The sponsor is unsuitable or
- There is no responsible sponsor
For a child traveling with an adult, the adult’s name and passport number must be included in the UK child visitor visa. If the child plans to travel with two adults sequentially during the visa’s validity, each parent’s passport number should be entered on the vignette.
Child Traveling with an Unidentified Adult
If a child is not traveling with an adult identified on the visa vignette, the immigration officer may refuse entry clearance. If there are concerns about the accompanying adult’s identity, the officer will investigate and verify the adult’s information. The immigration officer also informs the visa application post that issued the visa, so they can note the record for any subsequent applications.
Accompanying Adult Remaining Airside
A child visitor may not meet the visa’s terms if the accompanying adult remains airside and does not accompany the child, requiring further enquiries. In such cases, the child may not receive entry clearance.
Passport of the Accompanying Adult as Evidence of Identity
If the accompanying adult has obtained a replacement passport since the child’s visa issuance, the old passport is acceptable as identity evidence. However, a photocopy of the old passport is not reliable evidence. The new passport is acceptable only if it provides the old passport number in full and contains an official endorsement confirming the new passport replaces the old one.
While unaccompanied children can travel with or without an adult, the Home Office pays special attention to their circumstances.
*What happens next?
Multilingual qualified London based immigration specialists will get back to you, usually within 2-3 working days. If you have not attached any documents, then the UK based Law firm may ask for the relevant Case-Specific Document(s) such as Refusal Letters, Deportation Orders, Application Forms etc. Moreover, after reviewing the papers and information, the legal advisor may advise a course of action and quote the fees for processing the application.
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Parental Consent for UK Child Visitor Visa
If a parent or legal guardian is applying for a UK visitor visa on behalf of a child under 18, this generally meets the requirement for parental consent. However, if a parent or legal guardian is not applying, a letter from them confirming their relationship to the child and consenting to the visa application is needed to fulfill parental consent requirements. If someone other than the parent or legal guardian has applied, the ECO may inquire about the accompanying adult’s identity. Exceptions exist for social workers holding parental rights and caring for the child.
Consent from Divorced Parents for UK Child Visitor Visa
In the case of a child with divorced parents, the parent with legal custody or sole responsibility must provide consent. Consent from both parents is required if:
- the application states that the parent traveling with the child does not have legal custody
- legal authorities (i.e., police or judiciary, not a legal representative of one of the parents) indicate the child is at risk of being moved out of the country without consent
- an immigration officer has concerns that the child may be at risk
Refusal of UK Child Visitor Visa Due to Parental Consent
A UK child visitor visa may be refused if:
- a parent or legal guardian fails to provide information to support the application
- there is no reasonable explanation for not providing the required information relating to parental consent
Child Travelling to UK with a Private Foster Carer
A child visitor is considered under private foster care if they are:
- under 16 years of age
- under 18 years of age with a known disability
- full-time cared for more than 28 days
- not cared for by a parent or close relative
However, a child visitor is not under private foster care if:
- a parent, legal guardian, or close relative looks after the child during the visit
- the child is part of a group travelling and staying together with an accompanying adult, such as a school group for an educational exchange visit
If a foster carer or a relative (other than a parent/guardian) is responsible for the child’s care, the applicant needs to provide:
- a clearly written statement of consent by the parent or legal guardian
- the name and date of birth of the foster carer
- the address where the child will reside
- the child’s relationship to the foster carer
- authority from the parent(s) or legal guardian allowing the foster carer to take care of the child
- a letter from the school specifying the foster carer for an educational exchange visit lasting longer than 28 days
- confirmation that the local authority has been or will be notified, and if a reply has been received, a copy of the reply
Local Authority Notification for Foster Carers
Private foster carers must notify the local authority. However, notification requirements vary between England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
In England and Wales, the following parties can notify a local authority about foster care arrangements:
- the child’s parents and/or other carers
- other parties, such as an education provider
- the Home Office if parents, other carers, or parties have not notified the local authority
In Scotland, a parent/guardian or relative must notify a local authority for private foster care. Under the 1984 Act, the local authority investigates the appropriateness of foster care arrangements in the child’s interest.
In Northern Ireland, the regulations are similar to those in England. Parents/guardians/relatives must notify Health and Social Care trusts for private foster care arrangements lasting longer than 28 days.
Host Family for Child Visitor Visa
If a visiting child is staying with a host family, the host family should provide a letter that includes:
- the host family’s clear identity and address
- details of proper care arrangements for the child’s reception and stay
If the child’s visit exceeds 28 days, the host family must provide evidence of adequate arrangements. They should inform that they have contacted the relevant local Social Services for assessment. If an assessment has already been undertaken, completed, and approved, the host family must provide evidence. If a local council declines to conduct the assessment for adequate arrangements, the applicant must provide:
- the council’s response
- any relevant evidence to establish adequate arrangements
Sponsoring Charity for Child Visitor Visa
If a charity is organizing a child’s visit, it must provide the following information:
- complete details of the host allocated to accommodate the child’s stay
- complete details of checks on the host family, which should agree with the charity’s child protection policy and requirements of the Charities Commission or Devolved Authority (e.g., Disclosure and Barring checks)
- whether this is the child’s first visit or a subsequent visit that the charity is sponsoring
Please note, only in exceptional circumstances can a charity change the host family. In such cases, full details of the new host family must be provided.
Key Points: UK Child Visitor Visa
1. How long can a child stay in the UK on a Child Visitor Visa?
A child can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months on a Child Visitor Visa.
2. Can a child study in the UK on a Child Visitor Visa?
Yes, a child can study a short-term course (up to 6 months) in the UK on a Child Visitor Visa or a Short-Term Child Student Visitor Visa.
3. Can a child work or undertake work experience in the UK on a Child Visitor Visa?
No, a child cannot work, undertake work experience or work placements on a Child Visitor Visa.
4. What documents do I need to provide for a Child Visitor Visa application?
Key documents include a valid passport, consent letter from the parent or legal guardian, proof of financial means, and evidence of adequate arrangements for travel, reception, and care.
5. How much does a UK Child Visitor Visa application cost?
The standard fee for a UK Child Visitor Visa is £100. However, fees are subject to change, so always check the official UK government website for the most up-to-date information.
Useful External Links
- UK Government: Standard Visitor Visa – Official information on the standard visitor visa, which covers the child visitor visa.
- UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) – The government body responsible for processing visa applications, including child visitor visas.
- Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship, and Immigration Act 2009 – The legal framework for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children during the visa application process.
In conclusion, obtaining a Child Visitor Visa for the UK requires a thorough understanding of the eligibility criteria, documentation, and application process. Parents and guardians should ensure they have all the necessary paperwork in place and make adequate arrangements for the child’s travel, reception, and care. By following the guidelines and adhering to the UK immigration rules, a successful application can lead to a memorable trip to the UK. So, start preparing for your child’s UK adventure and make lasting memories exploring the rich history, beautiful landscapes, and diverse culture the United Kingdom has to offer.