This relates to UK child visitor visa application requirements and guidance notes for minors under 18 years of age. And also covers short term student child visa guidance and letter of consent from parents or guardians.
UK Child Visitor Visa Application Guidance and Requirements
In a nutshell, if a child is travelling or residing in the UK without a parent or a guardian, then the visitor visa application needs to establish the necessary arrangements for proper care and reception. Moreover, the applicant also needs to fulfil the requirements for parental consent.
UK Child Visitor Visa Application Requirements
In terms of paragraph V 4.11-4.13 of Appendix V, an under 18-year-old child applicants needs to meet the additional requirements relating to:
- Adequate travel arrangements, reception and care for child welfare u/s 55 of Border, Citizenship Immigration Act 2009
- Parental Consent, if a child is not applying or travelling with a parent or guardian then the parent or guardian needs to furnish a written consent for proper travel, reception and care arrangements
- a valid visit visa stating that the child is either accompanied and will be travelling with an identified adult or unaccompanied – as per Paragraph V 4.13 of Appendix V. However, if neither applies, the child visitor may usually refuse entry unless the child meets the requirements of V 4.12
Home Office Duty to ensure child welfare in the UK
Indeed, as per Section 55 of the 2009 Act, the Home Office has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Therefore, when a child under 18 makes a Type-C visitor visa application, the Home Office duly considers the child’s welfare. Accordingly, if
- all or few details are missing/unclear or there are other factors that raise concerns about a child’s welfare then the immigration officer is likely to make further enquiries to:
- confirm the identity and residence of the UK host
- ensure that the UK host expects the arrival of the child
- after further enquiries there are concerns about the child’s welfare then the decision-maker usually refuses the application
- there are concerns about a child’s welfare at the border, then the Home Office contacts the Local Authority Children’s Services Department. And may also contact the police. Accordingly, the children’s services of the Local Authority investigate and advise the Home Office on the suitability of the sponsor. Moreover, the local authority will take the child in their care if:
- it agrees that the Sponsor is not suitable or
- there is no responsible sponsor
If a child is travelling in the company of an adult then there is a need to include an adult’s name and passport number on the UK child visitor visa. If the child intends to travel with two (2) adults one after another during the validity of the visa (for instance, the child may arrive with one (1) parent and then travel for a day’s trip to France with the other), each of the parents’ passport numbers will be entered on the vignette.
A Child Traveling with an unidentified adult
If a child is not travelling with adult, who is no identified on the visa vignete, then the immigration officer usually refuses entry clearance. However, if there are concerns about the identity of the accompanying adult, then the immigration officer investigates the bonafide of the adult. Accordingly, checks the passport number, initial and surname in the passport of the accompanying adult against the details recorded for the child’s visa on the CRS computer record. Moreover, the immigration advises the visa application post that issued the visa for making a note against the record for any subsequent application(s) by the applicant.
What if the accompanied adult remained air-side?
A child visitor does not meet the terms of the visa if the accompanying adult remains airside and does not accompany the child. Therefore, necessitates the immigration staff to make further enquiries about the child and the accompanying adul. However, in such instances, a child visitor may not get an entry clearance.
Passport of the accompanying adult as evidence of identity
If the accompanying adult has legitimately obtained a replacement passport since the issuance of the child’s visa then the old passport is acceptable evidence of identity for a child’s entry. However, photocopy of the previous (old) passport is not a reliable evidence of identity. Moreover, if the original passport has been retained by the issuing authority, then the new passport is only acceptable if the new passport:
- gives the previous (old) passport number in full and
- contains an official endorsement confirming that the new passport has replaced the old passport
Although, an unaccompanied child can travel with or without an adult; however, the Home Office gives special attention to the circumstances of such visitors.
UK Child Visitor Visa Parental Consent Requirements
If a parent or a legal guardian is making a UK visitor visa application on behalf of a child under 18 then this usually satisfies the requirement for parental consent. However, if a parent or a legal guardian is not making the application then a letter from the parent or a legal guardian- confirming relationship to the visiting child and consenting to the child’s visa application- is required to meet the parental consent requirements. Moreover, if a person, other than the parent or legal guardian, has made the application then the ECO usually enquiries about the identity of the accompanying adult(s). However, there are exceptions for a social worker holding parental rights and care for the child.
UK Child Visitor Visa Consent Requirements for Divorced Parents
In the case of a child of divorced parents, the parent with the legal custody or the sole responsibility needs to furnish the consent. However, consent from both the parents is required if
- an application states that the parent travelling with the child does not have the legal custody
- the legal authorities (i.e. police or judiciary, and not a legal representative of one of the parent) indicates that a 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
UK Child Visitor Visa Refusal due to lack of parental consent
Indeed, a UK child visitor visa is usually refused if:
- parent or legal guardian fails to provide information to support the application
- there is no reasonable explanation for not furnishing the requisite information relating to parental consent
UK Child Visitor Visa Requirements for Private Foster Care
A child visitor is under private foster care if he/she is:
- less than 16-years of age
- less than 18-years of age with a known disability
- full time cared for more than 28 days
- not cared for by parent/close relative
However, a child visitor is not under private foster care if
- a parent, legal guardian or a close relative looks after the child during the visit
- the child is a part of a group travelling and staying together and an adult is accompanying the group. For instance, a school group for an Educational Exchange Visit
Therefore, if a foster carer or a relative (other than a parent/guardian) has the responsibility for the child’s care then the applicant needs to provide:
- a clearly written statement of consent by the parent or the legal guardian
- the name and the date of birth of foster carer
- the address at which the child will be residing
- child’s relationship to the foster carer
- authority from the parent(s) or the legal guardian for allowing the foster carer to take care of the child
- a letter from the school enumerating the foster carer for an educational exchange visit for longer than 28 days
- confirmation that the local authority has been already notified or will be notified. If the local authority have already replied then the applicant needs to attach a copy of the reply
Notification to the Local Authority
Indeed, a private foster carer needs to notify the local authority. However, the requirements for notification are different in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
England and Wales
In England and Wales, the following can notify a local authority for the foster care arrangements:
- the parents and/or other carers of a child
- 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 a relative needs to notify a local authority for private foster care. However, under the 1984 Act, in the interest of the child, local authority investigates the appropriateness of foster care arrangements.
In Northern Ireland, the regulations are similar to those in England. Accordingly, parents/guardian/relative needs to notify Health and Social Care trusts for private foster care arrangements longer than 28 days.
UK Child Visitor Visa Requirements for the Host Family
If a visiting child is staying with a host family then the host family should provide a letter, which should enumerate a clear identity and address of the host family. Moreover, the letter should also provide details of the proper care arrangements for child’s reception and stay.
If the child’s visit exceeds 28 days, then the host family needs to provide evidence of adequate arrangements. Accordingly, the host family needs to inform that they have contacted the relevant local Social Services for assessment. Moreover, if an assessment has already undertaken, completed and approved, then the host family needs to provide the evidence. Furthermore, if a local council declines to conduct the assessment for an adequate arrangement then the applicant needs to provide:
- the response of the council
- any relevant evidence to establish adequate arrangements
UK Child Visitor Visa Requirements for a Sponsoring Charity
If a Charity is organising a child’s visit then needs to provide the following information:
- complete details of the host allocated to accommodate a child’s stay
- complete details of checks on the host family – the checks should be in agreement with charity’s own child protection policy and requirements of Charities Commission or Devolved Authority. For instance, Disclosure and Barring checks
- whether this is a child’s first visit or a subsequent visit that the charity is sponsoring
Please note, only in exceptional circumstances, a charity can change the host family. However, needs to provide full details of the new host family.
UK short term child student visa requirements
For studying a short-term course up to 6 months, a child student:
- must be aged under 18-years of
- has been accepted on a study course by an accredited institution
- the course should not include a work placement or a work experience
- intends to leave the UK at the end of the study course or 6-months, whichever is earlier
- is able to maintain and accommodate with own funds
- is able to meet the cost of the onward or return journey
- shows that adequate arrangements have been made for travel, reception and care
- has a parent or a legal guardian in the country of residence for care
- the responsible parent or guardian confirms suitable arrangements for the child travel, reception and care
Short Term Child Student Visa Requirements for Conditions of Stay
A short term child student must not:
- intend to study a course at a state-maintained school or institution
- intend to study a course for an extended duration through frequent or successive visits as a short-term student
- seek employment including paid or unpaid work, placements, and experience
- intend to get self-employment or involve in business or any professional activities
- seek recourse to public funds
UK Short Term Child Student Visa Letter of Consent Requirements
If a foster carer/relative, who is not either a parent or guardian, has responsibility for child student’s care, then the applicant must provide a letter of consent from parent or legal guardian regarding arrangements for travel, reception and care, which may include:
- the name and date of birth of the responsible foster carer or relative
- the address where the child student will be living
- relationship of the foster carer or relative of the applicant
- authority letter from parent or legal guardian allowing the foster carer or relative to take care of the child
- a letter from the education provider enumerating the details of the foster care arrangements. The letter also needs to confirm that the education provide has or will notify the local authority. Moreover, if the local already replied then needs to include the reply from the local authority
Child Welfare Duty of the Home Office
Please note, the statutory duty u/s 55 of 2009 Act 2009 for child welfare is same for short term study and standard visitors. Therefore, the Home Office/UKVI records the details of the child’s parent or carer in the home country, UK host and the accompanying adult. Moreover, if details are unclear, missing or other factors suggest concerns about the child’s welfare, then the Home Office makes further enquiries to confirm the identity and residence of the host. Indeed, the Home Office ensures that whether the host is expecting the child visitor. However, if an applicant fails to meet the welfare requirements then the decision maker refuses the application.