Immigration changes to limit net migration - 4th December 2023

Sole responsibility: The Guardian has published another very instructive story of immigration woes and self inflicted pain.

The Guardian article describes a familiar story. A lecturer from Kenya who holds a UK work visa applied for the visa for her daughter to come live with her in the UK where she has obtained position with one of the universities. Her husband, due to other commitments, stayed behind in Kenya. The child’s visa was refused by the Home Office. That decision has surprised and angered both the applicant and the university faculty. While the decision taken by the Home Office may seem cruel and inconsiderate concerning the feelings of the applicant and her daughter, it was in line with the Home Office guidelines.

Sole responsibility for child under UK immigration rules

What is sole responsibility for child in UK immigration law

When an applicant for a long term UK visa, or someone who already holds such a UK visa, wants to bring their child to the UK when the other parent is alive and does not intend to move with them to the UK, the child’s application is not going to be a simple one. This is due to the principle of sole responsibility for a child that is required under UK immigration rules. We write on the topic of sole responsibility for a child in a separate article on our website.

In brief, sole responsibility for a child in UK immigration law arises when only one living parent of a child plans to come to the UK. Home Office position is that the child should not be uprooted from its environment and should stay with the other parent in their current arrangements.

Granting visa to a child in such situation is allowed only when the parent who is coming to the UK has the sole responsibility for the child as defined by the Home Office. To further confuse matters, the definition of sole responsibility for a child by the Home Office differs from that used in the family proceedings.

Conclusions for visa applicants

The take away lesson for visa applicants is to be prepared and submit a thorough visa application case whenever there is sole responibility inolved. In the story presented by the Guardian, the applicant thought she had a standard application while in fact she had sole responsibility application. Unsurprisingly, she was refused and such refusal is a serious matter.

She has an option to appeal the decision – which will take time because appeals take much longer to process than visa applications. So the applicant is likely to lose a lot of time and money for the appeal process. Alternatively, she can submit another application, with proper evidence of sole responsibility.

Before proceeding with appeal or new application it is important to assess the case to establish what is best way forward and what are the chances of success. In such cases it is useful to consult an experienced immigration professional.

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