Dear Mr Bassie,
My relative is a British citizen and he has a child who was born outside of the United Kingdom and he would like the child to join him over there. Can the child join him there on a permanent basis?
I am taking care of the child now and I would much prefer if he went and stayed with his father. I would appreciate any advice.
It is possible for children of British citizens and settled people to apply for a visa as the child of a British citizen or settled person. The child or children may be able to join a parent in the United Kingdom if he or she is a British citizen, or if that person has been given permission to settle there permanently. This is also known as 'indefinite leave to remain'.
It should be noted that by 'child', the British authorities mean someone who is under 18 years old, and the term 'parent' includes the stepfather or stepmother of a child whose father or mother is dead, both parents of an illegitimate child, and an adoptive parent in certain circumstances.
A person cannot apply in the child category if he or she is the child of a person who is settled in the United Kingdom or if that parent's most recent permission to stay was under tiers 1, 2, or 5 of the points-based system. There are also other limitations that may prevent a child's application from succeeding. For instance, if the other parent does not yet qualify for settlement; and if the child's most recent permission to stay as a dependent was under the points-based system, that is, known as a PBS dependant, was granted on or after July 9, 2012. In such a case, the child's application must be made as a dependant under the relevant category of the points-based system.
Generally speaking, children cannot normally go and settle in the United Kingdom unless both parents are settled there or have been given permission to settle there. The only exceptions are where one of the parents is dead and the other is settled or going to settle there; or in the case where the parent who is settled or going to settle in the United Kingdom has had sole responsibility for the child's upbringing, or the child normally lives with that parent and not the other parent.
Another scenario could be where one parent is settled or going to settle in the United Kingdom and there are serious reasons why the child must be allowed to go there.
It will also be necessary to show that your child is not leading an independent life; is not married or in a civil partnership; has not formed an independent family unit; and is under the age of 18 years.
It is important to note that if one of the child's parents is applying to enter, remain, or has limited leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a partner or parent, he or she must meet the financial requirement. In all other cases, the parent will need to show that he or she has accommodation where the family can all live without help from public funds to assist in settling the child in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, before the child travels to the United Kingdom, he or she must obtain a visa.
Just for completeness, if the child is already in the United Kingdom with temporary permission to stay, he or she can apply to settle there permanently using the SET(F) application form, unless he or she is applying at the same time as a parent, in which case, that individual should be listed as a dependant on that parent's application. There are some additional requirements for adopted children.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practices law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:email@example.com.