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.
Child Visitor Visa UK guidance: the child welfare duty
In terms of Section 55 of Borders, Citizenship & Immigration Act 2009, a child is a person under the age of 18. And the Home Office has a statutory duty to safeguard and also promote the welfare of children in the UK. Therefore, when a child under 18 makes a C-visit visa application, the Home Office duly considers the child’s welfare.
What are the additional requirements for UK child visitor visa?
Accordingly, in terms of paragraph V 4.11-4.13 of Appendix V for Visitors, an under 18-year-old child applicants needs to meet the additional requirements of adequate travel arrangements, reception and care in the UK
Parental Consent under V 4.12 for UK child visitor visa
If a child is not applying or travelling with a parent or guardian the parent/guardian needs to furnish consent, preferably a written consent, for proper travel arrangements, reception and care in the UK
What the UK child visitor visa must state?
Moreover, in terms of paragraph V 4.13 of Appendix V for Visitors, a child seeking entry clearance must either:
(a) hold a valid visit visa that states they are accompanied and will be travelling with an adult identified on that visit visa; or
(b) hold a visit visa which states they are unaccompanied
However, if neither applies, the child visitor may usually refuse entry unless the child meets the requirements of V 4.12.
A child travelling or residing in the UK without a parent
If a child is either travelling or residing in the UK without a parent or a guardian, then the visitor visa application needs to establish the necessary arrangements in the UK for proper care and reception of the child. Moreover, the applicant also needs to fulfil the requirements for parental consent.
Missing or unclear information and child welfare
In case, if all or few details are either missing/unclear or there are other factors that raise concerns about a child’s welfare in the UK then the immigration officer is likely to make further enquiries. Accordingly, confirms the identity and residence of the UK host. And also ensures that the UK host expects the arrival of the applicant (child) in the UK.
However, if after further enquiries there are concerns about the child’s welfare then the decision-maker usually refuses the application.
Suitability of the UK Sponsor and concerns at the Border
Moreover, if there are concerns about a child’s welfare at the border, then the home office staff contacts the local authority children’s services department. And also where appropriate the Home Office may 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 get the child in their care if:
- the Local Authority agrees that the Sponsor is not suitable or
- in case there is no responsible sponsor
Accompanied Children with Visa Nationals
If a child is travelling in the company of an adult, then an adult’s name and passport number are included on the child’s 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.
Accompanied Children at the UK Border
If a child is not travelling with the identified adult on the visit visa then the immigration officer refuses entry to the child.
Identity of the accompanying adult
Moreover, 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.
Accompanied adult remain airside
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 further enquiry the child and also the accompanying adult- if the staff can find the adult. However, in such instances, a child visit may not get permission to enter the UK.
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 reliable evidence of identity.
Moreover, if the original passport has been retained by the issuing authority, then the new passport is acceptable if:
- the new passport gives the previous (old) passport number in full
- and also contains an official endorsement confirming the new passport replaces the old passport
Unaccompanied Children and UK child visitor visa
Apparently, an unaccompanied child can travel with or without an accompanying adult. Therefore, the Home Office gives special attention to the circumstances of such visit visa UK under 18 child applications.
Parental consent for UK child visitor visa application
If a parent or a legal guardian is making a visit visa UK application on behalf of a child under 18 then this usually satisfies the requirement for parental consent.
Parent or guardian not making a child visa application
Moreover, if a parent/guardian is not making a visit visa application for a child under 18 and there are no other factors raising concerns, then a letter from the parent or a legal guardian confirming relationship to the visiting child and consenting to the child’s visa application are usually adequate to meet the parental consent requirements.
Checks on the identity of the accompanying adults
If a person, other than the parent/, has made the visit visa application for a child under 18, then the decision-maker 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.
Divorced parents and UK child visitor visa application
In the case of a child of divorced parents, the parent with the legal custody or the sole responsibility needs to furnish the consent.
Both parents need to give their consent
If a child’s visa application states that the parent travelling with the child under 18 is not the parent holding the child’s legal custody, then both parents need to give the consent.
If the legal authorities (i.e. police or judiciary, and not a legal representative of one of the parent) in the child’s country of residence indicates that a child is at risk of being moved out of the country without consent, then consent from both the parents is required.
Moreover, if the immigration officer has concerns that the child may be at risk then also both parents need to furnish the parental consent.
Refusal of child visitor visa UK
The decision-maker usually refusal a visit visa UK application of a child under if:
- neither parent/guardian provides information to support a child visitor visa application; or/and
- there is no reasonable explanation for not furnishing the requisite information relating to parental consent
UK child visitor visa and private foster care arrangements
A child visitor is under private foster care if he/she is:
- less than sixteen (16) years of age
- less than eighteen (18) years of age with a known disability
- full time cared for more than twenty-eight (28) days
- not cared for by parent/close relative
However, if a child visitor is not under private foster care if
- a parent/legal guardian or a close relative look after the child during the visit, or
- the child is a part of a group travelling and staying together. And an adult is accompanying the group, for instance, a school group.
Information relating to private foster carer or relative
If a foster carer or a relative, who is not a parent or guardian, have the responsibility for the child’s care in the UK, then the applicant needs to provide the following information for reception and care in the UK:
- a clearly written statement of consent by the parent or the guardian
- the name as well as the date of birth of foster carer in the UK
- the address at which the child/applicant will be residing in the UK
- child’s relationship to the foster carer
- authority from the parent(s) or the legal guardian allowing the foster carer to take necessary care of the child
- if a child is on an educational exchange visit to the UK, which lasts longer than twenty-eight (28) days and the child is not accompanied by his/her parent or guardian, then a letter from the school enumerating the details of the foster carer in the UK
- confirmation that the parents have either notified or will notify the relevant local authority in the UK. And also the reply from the local authority, if the local authority has replied to the request
Please note: during the application assessment process, the decision-maker usually ensures the genuineness of the supporting documents. Therefore, a child visitor visa applicant needs to submit verifiable evidence.
A foster carer needs to notify the local authority
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 that has not been done already by the parents, other carers or parties
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. And parents, guardian or a relative needs to notify Health and Social Care trusts for more than 28 days of private foster care arrangements.
Evidence of foster care arrangement
In case, a 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
The visiting child staying with a host family
If proper care arrangements for a visiting child are not made in the UK then the child’s visit visa application is likely to be refused.
During the assessment process, the decision-maker can maker various checks depending on whether the child is accompanied by an adult or travelling alone. However, in any case, it is imperative to furnish a clear record of the person responsible for a child’s welfare in the home country. And also the record of the person responsible for the child during the stay in the UK.
A letter from the host family should provide a clear identity and address of the host family in the UK, along with the details of the proper care arrangements for child’s reception and stay in the UK.
If at the border a child is not able to present any suitable documentary evidence for the care arrangements in the UK the Home Office will ensure that the child is not at risk.
Charity organising a child’s visit to the UK
Charities are required to complete the registration form for facilitating a child’s visits to the UK host family and needs to provide the following information if they are involved in organising a child’s visit to the UK:
- complete details of the host allocated to accommodate a child’s stay in the UK;
- 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;
- the charity should inform whether either this is a child’s first visit or a subsequent visit to the UK, that is sponsored by the charity for the child;
During the assessment process, the immigration officer needs to be satisfied that the charity has conducted the appropriate checks and tt the time of child’s visit visa application, DBS checks were not conducted more than three (3) years ago.
Charities are required to notify posts of any changes in their registration details. It is recommended that charities provide up-to-date details on an annual basis.
Allocating a New Host Family in the UK
Only in exceptional circumstances, a charity can change the allocated host family, which is also stated on the visa application form, of a child in the UK.
Full details of the new host family and the checks carried out on them are required to be provided.
When Border Force officers have a good reason to believe that a host family of a child in the UK have changed, for instance, if an adult accompanying the child is not the one named on the child’s visitor visa, the Border Force will check the CRS record or check with the Post to confirm whether the applicant/charity has notified the change. If not, the officer is required to be satisfied that the relevant checks on the new host family have been made. If they have not, and the officer is not satisfied that adequate care arrangements are in place, the application should be refused.
Where children are not residing with host families (for example in cases where they may be residing in residential centres), charities are required to provide full details of the arrangements.
Short term student child visa UK guidance and letter of consent
This section relates to short term student child visa UK for children under the age of 18 years, who intend to study in the UK for up to 6 months.
UK short term child student visa requirements
Apparently, a child student needs to provide an acceptance letter from the institution with the course details for studying a short-term course up to 6 months in the UK. And the applicant:
- must be aged under eighteen (18) years
- has been accepted on a study course by an accredited institution. However, the course should not include a work placement or a work experience in the UK
- intends to leave the United Kingdom at the end of the study course or at the end of the 6 months leave granted, whichever is the earliest
- is able to maintain and also accommodate himself/herself with own funds
- is able to meet the cost of the onward/return journey
- shows that adequate arrangements have been made for his/her travel to the UK. And also for reception and care in the UK
- has a parent/guardian in the country of residence, who is responsible for his/her care. Moreover, the responsible parent/guardian confirms to consent for suitable arrangements for the child student’s travel, reception and care in the UK
Conditions of stay in the UK
A short term child student must not:
- intend to study a course at a state-maintained school/institution
- intend to study a course in the UK for an extended duration through frequent/successive visits as a short-term student (child)
- seek employment in the UK including:
- either paid or unpaid work
- work placements and work experience in the United Kingdom
- intend to be either self-employed or involved in business/any professional activities in the United Kingdom
- seek recourse to public funds
Letter of consent for the short term child student visa UK
If a foster carer/relative, who is not either a parent or guardian, has responsibility for child student’s care in the UK, then the applicant must provide a letter of consent from his/her parent or parents or legal guardian regarding arrangements for his/her travel to, and reception/care while in the United Kingdom that should include:
- the name and also the date of birth of the responsible foster carer or relative in the UK
- the address where the child student will be living in the UK
- relationship of the foster carer/relative to the applicant
- authority from a child’s parent(s) or legal guardian allowing the foster carer or relative to care for the applicant/child student during his/her stay in the UK
- a letter from the education provider, which should include details of the foster care arrangements, and also confirming the education provide either have or will notify the local authority – the education provider should include the reply from the local authority if they have one
UK short term student child visa application and child’s welfare
Moreover, the decision maker notes the following information for record and reference:
- The name, address and also landline telephone number of the parent or the carer in the child’s country of residence
- the host in the United Kingdom
- the individual(s) accompanying the child student
Unclear information and child welfare
If details are unclear, missing or other factors suggest concerns about the child’s welfare, then further enquiries are made to confirm the identity and residence of the host, and it is ensured that the child is expected.
However, if an applicant fails to satisfy with respect to the requirement relating to a child’s welfare in the UK, then the decision maker usually refuses a UK short term student child visa application.
The statutory duty under section 55
Moreover, the statutory duty under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 relating to child welfare is the same for the UK short term student child visa and that for a child visitor visa. Therefore, all the details mention in the preceding sections relating to the welfare of a child visitor such as parental consent, arrival at the port of entry etc. are the same for a UK short term child student visa. And also refer to short term study visa rules.