“Sending” for your child – UK visas

As a person of African Caribbean descent I am well aware of the fact that many parents, particularly mothers, leave their child in their home country and come to build a life in the UK.  It can seem astonishing to many that a parent would leave their child for years on end and re-establish herself on the other side of the world.

lonely childHowever, this should not be seen as an act of abandonment but it should be seen for what it is – a desperate act of survival.  In the ideal world a family would consist of mother, father and children happily living in the same household, parents paying all the bills easily and having all the time in the world to attend to school activities and homework.  Well this is the real world and for many reasons, some of them historic, many families in the so called developing world do not live this type of lifestyle.

So, especially in single mother households, the decision is made to leave the child with a member of the extended family and to move abroad.  Money and essential items are regularly sent home and ultimately the life of the child left behind is materially better than it would have been had mother not made the decision to relocate.  Unfortunately, many people, for a variety of reasons, enter the UK on the basis of other reasons rather than applying for a work permit.

So this situation continues on year in year out.  Then…just before the child becomes an 18 year old adult there is a massive craving by the mother that the child should be brought to the UK to live permanently with the mother before adulthood.  Well, to this I would say…you may have left it too late.

One of the main reasons that it may be too late is purely administrative.  It is important to remember that when applying to bring a child to the UK you should note that the child must be under 18 years old at the time of the Home Office decision.  By waiting until your child is say 17 years old does not leave much time to deal with any refusal / objections raised by the Entry Clearance Officer (the immigration officer abroad who makes the decision).  You may need time to provide further evidence, to request a reconsideration of the decision, to pursue an appeal or a judicial review.

This area of UK Immigration law relies heavily on human rights and on the human condition.  So if you have left your child back home when s/he were say 3 years old, that child is now 15 years old and you are only now sending for him, you can see the dilemma for the Entry Clearance Officer.  A principal question that an Entry Clearance Officer must answer is – Do you have sole parental responsibility for your child.  The answer to this question will be apparent by the facts, such as:

1)      Where is your child’s other biological parent – if this is not a joint application?

2)      Who has been looking after your child for all the years that you have been away? And why can’t this person continue to look after your child?

3)      Who has been making key decisions in your child’s life regarding for example, education and healthcare?

4)      Who has been supporting your child financially?

5)      Have you visited your child since you have been in the UK? How often? And if not, why not?

6)      What will happen to your child if s/he is not given a visa to join you in the UK?

7)      Will you be able to support your child here without needing benefits?

These are crucial questions that must be answered to the satisfaction of the Entry Clearance Officer if your application is going to succeed without giving you too much headache.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many people think logically that – this is my child and therefore s/he should be able to join me in the UK.  Unfortunately, gone are the days when it was just a simple case of “sending for your child” to join you.  The UK Immigration rules are a lot more complicated than they were for the first immigrants who came to the UK in the 50s and 60s.  The needs of the UK have changed since then and it no longer seen as being of no great benefit to have another wave of Caribbean immigrants entering the UK.  Therefore, you must show that your application is based on solid human rights grounds – essentially as in the right to a family life in your specific circumstances.

Your application should be full of independent evidence to support your case.  The Entry Clearance Officer is not going to believe your situation just because you say so.  In my view it is right for UK immigration to insist that every case is supported with strong evidence and if your case is genuine you should have no problem gathering this evidence.  Of course, realistically, it is difficult to get letters and statements from abroad but you should do your upmost to get this – it will serve you better in the long run – especially if you have to appeal an Entry Clearance Officer decision at court.

There real message here is that taking all factors into consideration it is probably best for you to apply for your child to join you in the UK at the earliest possible chance – and I suspect that’s what you want as well.


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Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com


 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos