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Parent of British child visa Guide

Table of content


The UK Immigration Rules provide a route to join or remain with family members in the UK as a parent. As lone parent you can apply for leave to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of a child who is living in the UK. The parent applying can be a stepfather, stepmother or adoptive parent.

Your child must be living in the UK and one of the following must also apply:

  • they’re a British or Irish citizen
  • they’ve settled in the UK,
  • they’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status,
  • if you’re applying in the UK, they must have lived in the UK for 7 years continuously and it would not be reasonable for them to leave

If your child has settled status you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme or for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit.

Your child must also either be under 18 on the date you apply or have been under 18 when you were first granted leave and not live an independent life; your child is living an independent life if, for example, they’ve left home, got married and had children.

Parental responsibility

This route is only suitable for a parent who is no longer in a relationship with the other parent. You need to have sole or shared parental responsibility for your child. If you share parental responsibility, the child’s other parent must not be your partner.

They must also either:

  • be a British or Irish citizen,
  • have settled in the UK,
  • be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have pre-settled status.
  • If the child lives with their other parent or carer, you must have access to the child in person, as agreed with the other parent or carer or by a court order. If you’re eligible to apply as a partner, you must do that instead of applying as a parent.

Sole responsibility means that one parent has abdicated or abandoned parental responsibility and the remaining parent is instead exercising sole control in setting and providing the day-to-day direction for the child’s welfare. The Home Office will consider whether you have continuing sole control and direction of the child’s upbringing including making all the important decisions in the child’s life.

In relation to direct access, you must prove that you have direct access ‘in person’ by submitting evidence. Examples include a residence order or contact order; a child arrangements order; a letter or sworn affidavit from the UK-resident parent or carer of the child; or evidence from a contact centre detailing contact arrangement.

You must also show that you are currently taking an active role in the child’s upbringing and will continue to do so.

The most important requirement to be met by the parent is the active relationship that they have with a child. However, to be eligible in this category, the applicant parent must also prove that they are able to adequately provide maintenance and accommodation for themselves, the child and any other children that they care for.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for your visa.

The best interests of that child.

An important consideration in all family life cases involving children will be what is in the best interests of that child. The Home Office is under a statutory duty to promote and safeguard the welfare of children in all immigration considerations and decisions. The best interests of the child must be continually assessed throughout any immigration process, from making the application to the making of a decision

The Home Office guidance on the parent route states that: “save in cases involving criminality, the decision maker must not take a decision in relation to the parent or primary carer of a British Citizen child where the effect of that decision would be to force that British child to leave the EU, regardless of the age of that child. This reflects the European Court of Justice judgment in Zambrano. Furthermore, in the case of SF and others (Guidance, post-2014 Act) [2017] UKUT 120 (IAC), it has been confirmed that it is Home Office policy that a decision maker must not make a decision in relation to a parent/carer which would lead to the British child leaving the UK.

Grants of leave

Depending on your circumstances, you could be granted leave either under the 5- or 10-years route. To be eligible for leave under the 5 years routes you must meet the English and financial requirements. Indeed, under Appendix FM there are two routes to settlement in the UK on the basis of family life as parent. The 5-year route as parent is for those who meet all the suitability and eligibility requirements of the Immigration Rules at every stage including the English and financial requirements. The 10-year route as parent applies in respect of applications for leave to remain as a parent who meets all the suitability requirements, but only certain eligibility requirements.

The decision maker will first consider whether you meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules, without consideration of exceptional circumstances and if you do, leave under the relevant Rules should be granted. In a case you fail to meet the requirements under the 5-year parent route, your application will be considered for leave to remain under the 10-year parent and private life routes as appropriate. Accordingly, the decision maker will move on to consider, whether, in the light of all the information and evidence you have provided, there are exceptional circumstances, which would render refusal a breach of Human Rights (ECHR Article 8) because it would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for you, your partner, a relevant child or another family member, whose Article 8 rights would be affected.

Exception to eligibility requirements

Some individuals, applying as a parent, will be able to rely on the exception rule under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules if the applicant has a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a child who is:

  • under 18 years old (or was under 18 years when the applicant was first granted leave);
  • in the UK;
  • a British Citizen or has lived in the UK continuously for at least the 7 years immediately preceding the date of application; and
  • where it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK;

If you meet one of the exceptions, you would be exempt from some of the requirements under the Immigration Rules outlined above in particular, the financial, English language and most of the immigration status requirements would not apply.

If relying on this exception, you are expected to show that it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK. Reasonableness in this context will depend on a number of factors, including the child’s age; family ties in the UK and in the country of origin; and social, cultural and educational ties.

If you wish to find out more about your immigration matters, our team of experienced lawyers is happy to assist.

Supporting documents

You must be able to prove that you’re taking an active role in your child’s upbringing and you plan to continue after you apply.

You could provide letters from your child’s:

  • school confirming you take them to school or go to parent evenings
  • doctor, dentist, or health visitor confirming that you take them to appointments
  • other parent confirming how much contact you have with your child

If you provide a letter from the other parent, you’ll need to include proof of their identity. This should be an official document which has their signature on it, for example a copy of their passport, tax return or photocard driving licence.

Application process and fees

You must apply online and complete Appendix 5 if you are outside the UK.

The Parent visa is valid for 2.5 years and an extension application can be made to extend the visa for a further 2.5 years.

It will cost you £1,523 to apply from outside the UK and £1,033 to do so inside the country in addition to £1560 (624×2.5) for the ‘immigration health surcharge or HIS.

For a free visa assessment, speak to us. To make an enquiry, you can call our dedicated Immigration enquiry line on: +44(0)7869806506 or by email at info@kassolicitors.uk

To discuss your UK visa application with one of our immigration lawyers, contact our immigration lawyer team or select one of our packages below.

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