This guidance relates to parent of a British child visa UK eligibility and suitability requirements under Appendix FM of Immigration Rules for entry clearance, leave to remain and ILR applications. The UK parent of a British child visa under Appendix FM is only for a parent who has sole responsibility for or direct access to the child following the breakdown of the relationship with the child’s other parent. Accordingly, the route is for applicants who:

  • have sole parental responsibility for a British child
  • do not live with the child and the child lives with the other parent or carer in the UK. However, the applicant has direct access (in person) to the child, as agreed with the other parent or carer with whom the child normally lives or as ordered by a court
  • in case of a leave to remain application, is a parent with whom the child normally lives, rather than the child’s other parent who is a British Citizen or settled in the UK

UK Parent of a British Child Visa Requirements

The UK parent of child visa route is not for couples, who are in a continuing genuine and subsisting relationship. Applicants in a genuine relationship needs to apply under the partner route or under the private life route. Therefore, a person cannot apply for a parent of a child visa if they are eligible under the partner route. This also include where the applicant is in a relationship, but the couple has not started living together for two years.

Therefore, for a successful parent of a British child visa application, the applicant needs make a valid application, meet the eligibility (relationship, financial, and English Language) requirements, and should not fall for refusal on suitability grounds.

If an applicant meets all the parent of British child visa requirements, then gets a limited leave for 30 months. After completing 30 months on parent of a British child visa in the UK, the migrant can make an extension application. Parent of a British child visa is a route to settlement. Therefore, a migrant can apply for ILR after completing 60-months (or 120-months) on the route.

Eligibility Requirements for Parent of a British Child Visa UK

As per Appendix FM, for parent of a British child visa UK, an applicant needs to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. The child is under 18 years of age
  2. Definition of “parent” as per paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules
  3. Prove relationship with the child as claimed
  4. The child is living and settled in the UK
  5. Establishing relationship with the child
  6. Child’s other parent or carer is no longer the partner of the applicant
  7. Sole parental responsibility
  8. The child normally lives with the applicant
  9. Direct access in person
  10. Immigration status of the applicant
  11. Adequate maintenance and accommodation
  12. English language

Parent of a British Child Visa Refused

The parent of a British child visa UK is refused if the applicant fails to meet the eligibility (relationship, maintenance, English Language) requirements or on the following suitability grounds:

  1. Applicant has remained in breach of the immigration laws
  2. Presence of the applicant is not in-conducive to the public good
  3. Deportation order
  4. Criminality
  5. Conduct, character and associations, non-compliance, or other reasons
  6. Medical grounds
  7. Left or removed as a condition of a caution
  8. False representations
  9. Failure to disclose material facts
  10. Lack of maintenance and accommodation undertaking
  11. Deception was used in a previous application
  12. Deception was used in a previous application for a document to prove right to reside
  13. Failure to pay outstanding litigation costs awarded to the Home Office
  14. Failure to pay outstanding bills of NHS of at-least GBP 500 or more

Therefore, if the parent of a British child visa UK is refused then the refusal letter (notice) elaborates where the applicant has failed to meet the requirements under the 5-year route. Moreover, the refusal letter also refers to exceptional circumstances under the 10-year route and the rights of appeal.

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Parent of a British Child Visa UK

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    1. The Max Age of the British Child

    For parent of a British child visa UK, the applicant needs to be at least 18 years of age at the date of application. However, the applicant’s British child must be under 18 years of age at the time of the application. However, if the British child turns 18 after lodging the parent of a British child visa application, then the application is not refused because the British child has turned 18.

    For a leave to remain, if the British child turns 18 years of age since the first grant of parent of British child visa, then the applicant needs to prove that the child has not formed an independent family unit or is not leading an independent life.

    In terms of paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules “Must not be leading an independent life” or “is not leading an independent life” means that the person does not have a partner and is:

    • living with their parents, except for studying at a boarding school, college, or university as part of the full-time education
    • not employed full-time (unless aged 18 years or over)
    • wholly or mainly dependent upon their parents for financial support (unless aged 18 years or over)
    • wholly or mainly dependent upon their parents for emotional support

    2. The meaning of a parent under the Immigration Rules

    In fact, apart for a natural parent, a parent under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules, includes:

    1. the stepfather of a child
    2. the stepmother of a child
    3. the father or mother of an illegitimate child, where it is proved that person is a father/mother of an illegitimate child
    4. an adoptive parent

    Moreover, in the case of a child born in the UK who is not a British citizen. A person to whom there has been a genuine transfer of parental responsibility on the grounds of the original parent’s inability to care for the child is also deemed as a parent.

    3. Proof of Parentage for Parent of a British Child Visa UK

    For parent of a British child visa UK, an applicant needs to establish relationship with the child. The best evidence to prove relationship is the child’s birth certificate. However, at times, a parent’s name may not always be mentioned on their child’s birth certificate. Therefore, in such situations, an applicant needs to furnish cogent evidence to prove the parentage.

    4. The British child is living and settled in the UK

    Certainly, for parent of a British child visa, an applicant needs to satisfy that the child is living in the UK. Moreover, an applicant also needs to satisfy that the child is a British citizen or settled in the UK. Please note, “Living in the UK” means that the child concerned is living in the UK at the date of application and physically present in the UK. And the applicant intends to make the UK their home with the child. Therefore, an applicant cannot rely on their relationship with a British child, who is not living or settlement in the UK.

    5. Establishing Relationship with the British Child

    For entry clearance applications, in terms of paragraphs E-ECPT.2.3. and E-ECPT.2.4., an applicant needs to establish that they have:

    • the sole parental responsibility for the child
    • direct access (in person) to the child. Perhaps, as agreed with the parent or carer or as ordered by a court in the UK. Additionally, in such casas an applicant to establish that:
      • the parent or carer with whom the child normally lives is a British citizen living in the UK. Or the parent or carer is a person settled in the UK. And the parent or carer of the child is not the partner of the applicant
      • the applicant is not eligible to apply for entry clearance as a partner under Appendix FM
    • the applicant needs to prove that they are taking an active role in child’s upbringing. And will continue to take an active role in child’s upbringing after the grant of the parent visa UK.

    How to establish relationship for leave to remain applications?

    For leave to remain applications an applicant must satisfy that they have sole parental responsibility for the child. And the child normally lives with the applicant and not with the other parent (who is a British citizen or settled in the UK). And the applicant is not eligible to apply for leave to remain as a partner under Appendix FM.

    Moreover, the applicant has direct access (in person) to the child, as agreed with the parent or carer with whom the child normally lives or as ordered by a court in the UK- in addition in such cases:

    • the parent or carer with whom the child normally lives must be a British citizen in the UK or settled in the UK and not the partner of the applicant. This includes a person who has been in a relationship with the applicant for less than two years at the date of application
    • the applicant must not be eligible to apply for leave to remain as a partner under Appendix FM

    Certainly, in all cases, the applicant must provide evidence that they are taking, and intend to continue to take, an active role in the child’s upbringing.

    6. Other Parent or Carer is No Longer the Partner of the Applicant

    For both entry clearance and leave to remain applications as a parent, if the child normally lives with their other British citizen or settled parent or carer, that person cannot be the partner of the applicant (which for leave to remain includes a person who has been in a relationship with the applicant for less than two years prior to the date of application) and the applicant must not be eligible to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner under Appendix FM.

    Please note the UK parent of a British visa under Appendix FM is not for couples.

    7. Sole Parental Responsibility for Parent of British Child Visa

    Sole parental responsibility means that one parent has abdicated or abandoned parental responsibility. And the remaining parent is exercising sole control in setting and providing the day-to-day direction for the child’s welfare. Accordingly, to prove sole parental responsibility, an applicant may furnish evidence relating to:

    • the decisions have been taken and actions performed in relation to the upbringing of the child under the sole direction of the applicant, without the input of the other parent or any other person
    • the responsibility for the child’s welfare and for what happens to them in key areas of the child’s life and others do not share this responsibility for the child
    • an applicant’s exclusive responsibility for:
      • making decisions regarding the child’s education, health and medical treatment, religion, residence, holidays, and recreation
      • protecting the child and providing them with appropriate direction and guidance
      • the child’s property
      • the child’s legal representation

    Sole Parental Responsibility is more than just a legal custody

    However, it is important to note that sole parental responsibility is different from legal custody. Moreover, significant, or even exclusive financial provision for a child does not in itself demonstrate sole parental responsibility, where both parents are involved in the child’s upbringing it will be rare for a person to establish sole parental responsibility. Sole parental responsibility can be recent or long-standing. However, the decision maker usually scrutinises any recent change of arrangements. And ensures that the sole responsibility is genuine and not an attempt to circumvent immigration control.

    Sole Control and Sharing of day-to-day responsibility

    Some day-to-day responsibility (or decision-making) for the child’s welfare may be shared with others, for example, relatives or friends, for practical reasons, if the applicant is ultimately responsible for the welfare of the child.

    The decision-maker is not considering whether the applicant (or anyone else) has day-to-day responsibility for the child, but whether the applicant has continuing sole control and direction of the child’s upbringing, including making all the important decisions in the child’s life. If not, then they do not have sole parental responsibility for the child. The decision-maker must carefully consider each application on a case-by-case basis. The burden of proof is on the applicant to provide satisfactory evidence. In some instances, it may be appropriate to interview an applicant to establish whether they have sole responsibility for the child, or to contact the other parent (with the consent of the applicant) to confirm they have no parental responsibility.

    8. The British Child Normally Lives with the Applicant

    This applies where both parents (one of whom is a British citizen or settled person) are no longer in a subsisting relationship but have retained shared parental rights and responsibilities, and the child’s primary custodial residence preceding the date of application, as demonstrated by a court order or consensual agreement, is with one of them.

    Joint Residence Order or Shared Custody

    From 13 December 2012 applicants for leave to remain in the UK can apply in this category where they have:

    • a joint residence order
    • other evidence of shared custody of a child or children in the UK

    The purpose of this provision is to allow a migrant parent whose relationship with a British citizen or settled person has broken down, and who has shared or equal custody of a child here, to remain in the UK where it is in the child’s best interests for them to do so.

    The fact that an applicant is simply a parent of a child in the UK is not enough to meet the requirements of the rules. Accordingly, for UK parent visa leave to remain application an applicant must satisfy that:

    • the relationship between the applicant and the other parent has broken down and is no longer subsisting
    • the applicant has joint or shared custody of the child or children
    • evidence of joint or shared custody has been provided in the form of a court order or consensual agreement with the British citizen or settled parent
    • evidence has been provided that the child normally lives with the applicant (where they are in the UK) or with their British citizen or settled parent

    The primary residence of the Child

    The primary residence of the child is the residence where the child spends most of their time. For example, parents may have joint custody of the child, but the child may spend most of the time with only one of their parents, thereby having their primary residence with that parent.

    In legal terms, a child can only have one primary residence. However, where a child spends equal time with either parent, for example, seven days out of 14 with both throughout the year, for the purposes of this route, the decision maker may consider the child to “normally live with” the applicant.

    A child will not “normally live with” a parent whom the child occasionally lives with. For example, at weekends, during holidays or by an overnight stay once a week.

    The onus is on the applicant

    There is no specified evidence that the applicant must provide to demonstrate whom a child normally lives with, but the onus is on the applicant to show that a child normally lives with them or with the British citizen or settled parent. Accordingly, the evidence to show that a child normally lives with a person may include correspondence from:

    • a court in the form of a court order showing joint or shared custody
    • the other parent confirming joint or shared custody
    • a doctor, hospital, or dentist
    • a school or playgroup
    • the Department for Work and Pensions
    • HM Revenue & Customs
    • local authority children’s services

    Moreover, the decision maker may consider other relevant evidence acceptable. However, the evidence needs to satisfy the decision maker that a child normally lives with the stated person.

    When a child does not normally live with the applicant

    If the applicant in the UK does not have sole parental responsibility for the child and the child does not normally live with them, they must supply evidence to show that the parent or carer with whom the child normally lives is a British citizen or settled in the UK and that the person cares for the child. Accordingly, the evidence can include:

    • a British passport
    • a foreign passport endorsed with ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or ‘no time limit’
    • a letter from the Home Office confirming that the person is settled in the UK
    • evidence that the child resides with the British citizen or settled parent

    9. Direct Access in Person for Parent of a British Child Visa UK

    An applicant can qualify for leave as a parent if they have direct access in-person to a child, as agreed with the parent or carer with whom the child normally lives or as ordered by a court in the UK. The applicant must prove they have direct access to the child by submitting evidence such as:

    • a residence order or contact order granted by a court in the UK
    • a letter or sworn affidavit from the UK-resident parent or carer of the child
    • evidence from a contact centre detailing contact arrangement

    The above evidence, or a reasonable equivalent, should establish that the applicant parent has direct access in-person to the child, and describe in detail the arrangements which allow for this. If a sworn affidavit is submitted, it should be certified by a lawyer.

    It is not enough for the applicant to provide evidence only that they have been granted direct access to a child. The rules require the applicant to show that they have direct access in-person to the child and are taking an active role in the child’s upbringing and will continue to do so.

    Evidence of Maintaining Contact for Parent of a British Child Visa UK

    Where a parent applies for entry clearance to join a child in the UK, they must provide evidence of maintaining contact with the child and evidence that they intend to maintain contact once in the UK. The decision-maker must be satisfied that direct contact in person with the child is the main reason for the application.

    10. Immigration Status for Parent of a British Child Visa UK

    The paragraphs E-LTRPT.3.1. to E-LTRPT.3.2. of Appendix FM set out the immigration status requirements. Accordingly, to qualify for leave to remain as a parent on the 5-year route to settlement the applicant must not be in the UK:

    • as a visitor
    • with valid leave granted for a period of 6 months or less, unless that leave was granted pending the outcome of family court or divorce proceedings
    • on temporary admission or temporary release
    • in breach of immigration laws (except that, where paragraph 39E of the rules applies, any current period of overstaying will be disregarded)

    A visitor who has overstayed (by any period of time) cannot qualify for the 5-year route.

    11. Maintenance Requirements for Parent of a British Child Visa

    For entry clearance or leave to remain as a parent of a British child on the 5-year route to settlement the applicant needs to meet the financial requirements. Accordingly, the applicant needs to provide evidence that they will be able to adequately maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependants in the UK without recourse to public funds.

    Moreover, to qualify for entry clearance or leave to remain as a parent on the 5-year route to settlement the applicant needs to meet the accommodation requirement. Accordingly, an applicant needs to provide evidence of adequate accommodation, without recourse to public funds. Including other family members, not included in the application but who live in the same household, which the family own or occupy exclusively. An accommodation is not adequate if it is, or will be, overcrowded and contravenes public health regulations.

    12. English Language for Parent of a British Child Visa UK

    For entry clearance or leave to remain application, as a parent of a British child visa UK on the 5-year route to settlement, the applicant needs to meet the English language requirements.

    For the initial 30 months application for UK parent visa application, under the 5-year route to settlement, an applicant needs to demonstrate a minimum English Language proficiency level of A1. Moreover, for the subsequent 30 months leave to remain application required level of English Language is A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Moreover, from 28 October 2013, all applicants for settlement are required to present a speaking and listening qualification at CEFR level B1 or above and pass the Life in the UK test. The requirement attracts several exemptions relating to age, disability, exceptional circumstances. Certainly, a National of Majority English Speaking Country and an applicant who has a degree taught in English are also exempt from English Test requirement.

    How to meet the English Language Requirements?

    For entry clearance applications, as parent of a British child visa UK, an applicant can meet the English language requirements, if they:

    • are a national of a majority English speaking country as per paragraph GEN.1.6. of Appendix FM, Immigration Rules
    • pass an English language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) with a provider approved by the Home Office
    • have an academic qualification which is either a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD if awarded in the UK; or if awarded outside the UK, is deemed by UK NARIC to meet, or exceed the recognised standard of a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD in the UK, and UK NARIC has confirmed that the degree was taught or researched in English to level A1 of the CEFR or above
    • qualify for an exemption