If you are the parent of a child (ie a person aged under 18) who lives in the UK, but you are not or you are no longer the child’s other parent’s partner, you may in some circumstances be able to get a visa to remain in the UK on that basis commonly known as Parent of a Child Visa in the UK. And you may in some circumstances be able to get a visa to come to the UK on that basis.
If you are applying from outside the UK the child must hold either British citizenship or settlement. If you are applying from inside the UK the rules are more flexible, and the child can be either a British citizen or settled, or has lived in the UK for at least seven years – in which case there is no requirement for any particular immigration status.
There are various possible scenarios for this. You might never have had any real relationship with the child’s other parent. Or you might have been in a relationship, you might even have been married, but you are now separated or divorced. But in any event you must not currently be in a relationship with the child’s other parent.
The relevant immigration rules in this area make frequent reference to “sole parental responsibility” for the child. This means more or less what it says but there is some flexibility in the interpretation. But an applicant who claims to have sole parental responsibility must likely show that they make a substantial or full financial contribution for the child’s upbringing and, also, that they are involved in all the important decisions about their upbringing.
For obvious reasons, it is much easier to show sole parental responsibility for the child if the child lives with you and for even more obvious reasons it is difficult to show it if the child lives in a different country from you.
For applications for this visa from outside the UK, if you can show that you have sole parental responsibility for the child – although, as referred to above, this is probably difficult – and you can also show that you intend to continue to take an active role in the child’s upbringing then well and good. Assuming you meet all the other requirements of the rules you may be able to make a strong application.
Relevant evidence about an “active role” could include, for example, evidence of frequent contact with the child, going on holiday with the child, involvement with the child’s educational progress, involvement in the child’s religious education and development, and so on.
If you cannot show sole parental responsibility but you can show that you have direct access 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” and you can additionally demonstrate that you take and intend to continue to take an active role then, again, you may be able to make a strong application.
The rules for applying inside the UK are similar but necessarily more complicated. For one thing, they envisage that the applicant may live with the child. If the applicant can show that they live with the child and that they take and intend to continue to take an active role in their upbringing they may be able to make a strong application. If they do not live with the child but can nonetheless demonstrate sole parental responsibility and an active future role then again they may be able to make a strong application.
And, as with the out-of-country rule, if the applicant can show that they have direct access to the child and they can also demonstrate an active role, they may be able to make a strong application.
There is another important difference in the in-country rule: it envisages that the applicant might not have legal status in the UK, eg they might be an overstayer. But in this situation the applicant has to meet an additional test: they must show that “it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK”, which brings some different elements into the case.
It must be emphasised that these rules are complicated and this article does not serve as a complete guide. If you have an immigration situation that is relevant you are well advised to take competent legal advice. We at GSN Immigration will be able to help you with this.
We have assisted our clients with Entry Clearance and Leave to Remain as Parent of a Child in the UK. Our team of expert Immigration Lawyers will work passionately on your case so you can get fast track visa and concentrate on more important matters in your life such as spending more time with your loved ones.
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