Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Immigration Corner | Illegal minor in the UK

Published:Friday | October 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

My child is a minor and is living illegally in the United Kingdom. What can be done to legalise his status?

- P.T.

Dear P.T.,

If a child is living in the United Kingdom illegally, that parent should apply for him/her to live in the country legally before they are 18 years old.

The reason for this is: the application process will be easier if the child is under 18 years old; he/she can continue with their education, however, he/she cannot study beyond 18 years old if there illegally; British citizens can work and receive benefits once they are 18 years old; British citizens cannot be deported.

Once a person's child has a legal immigration status, he/she can apply to live in the United Kingdom legally as their parent. If the child is over 18 years old, he/she will have to legalise their status as an adult.

Persons should be aware that they may need the help of a specialist immigration adviser or solicitor to register a child who is living there illegally as applying is quite a complicated process. It should be noted that persons can find out more about available options before applying by calling the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. This organisation provides free, confidential advice to people living in the United Kingdom illegally.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants can be contacted at telephone: 020 7553 7440, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 1p.m.

Calls cost 12p per minute from a landline, and from 3 to 45p from a mobile

After contacting the organisation a specialist immigration adviser will tell you the best way to legalise the child's immigration status and it will be completely confidential. Persons will also be able to get advice on the parent's own immigration status if he or she or they are also in the United Kingdom illegally.




If the child was born in the United Kingdom, there are two ways to get him/her a legal immigration status - register them as a British citizen, or apply for 'discretionary leave to remain'.

Persons can register their child as a British citizen after they have lived there for ten years. This is the best option, because: the child will be able to legally work; he/she can continue with their education after attaining the age of 16 years old; British citizens can get National Health Service (NHS) health care and are eligible for benefits. Please note that it costs £749, and the application is guaranteed to succeed.

Persons can apply for an immigration status called 'discretionary leave to remain' for their child after seven years of being there. In this category decisions are made on an individual basis, so there is no guarantee that the application will succeed, and the applicants will not be eligible for any benefits when they reach the age of 18 years old.

If successful and he/she is granted discretionary leave to remain for a child, the person applying on behalf of the child will have to: renew it every 2.5 years and this will cost £649; pay a £500 NHS fee every time he/she has to renew their leave; apply for citizenship eventually if he/she would like the child to live in the United Kingdom permanently.

If the child was born outside of the United Kingdom, the only option is to apply for discretionary leave to remain. In this case, the child will be able to live and work in the United Kingdom, but will not be entitled to benefits when they attain the age of 18 years old.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises 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).