Can I sponsor my foreign parent or relative to live with me in the UK?

We are frequently asked whether an elderly foreign parent can be brought to the UK to live with their family members in the UK. Usually, unless the parent is eligible in their own right for an investor or ancestry visa, the only suitable visa will be an Adult Dependent Relative visa. 

What is an Adult Dependent Relative visa?

This is the only visa the UK offers for adult parents or grandparents. An Adult Dependent Relative visa entitles the holder to live in the UK indefinitely. It entitles the holder to access public funds and to use the National Health Service. The Adult Dependent Relative visa is not called a “parent visa” because eligibility requires more than parenthood; there has to be an element of dependence on the sponsor. Generally, if you see a reference to a “parent visa”, this refers to the parent of a child under the age of 18 and is an entirely different type of visa.

Who can sponsor an adult dependent relative?

The sponsor must be:

  • British
  • Irish
  • Settled in the UK – this means holding indefinite leave to remain, settled status, or the right of abode
  • Pre-settled status holder
  • Refugee or humanitarian protection holder

Skilled Workers and students cannot act as sponsors. They must first obtain indefinite leave to remain. 

What relationships qualify for the Adult Dependent Relative visa?

The applicant must be related to the sponsor in one of the following ways:

  • Parent aged 18 or over,
  • Grandparent,
  • Brother or sister aged 18 or over, or
  • Son or daughter aged 18 or over.

Who counts as a “dependent”?

There are two basic criteria to qualify as a dependent:

  1. The applicant must require long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks as a result of age, illness, or disability, AND
  2. The applicant must be unable to obtain the required level of care in the country in which they are living, even with the practical and financial help of the sponsor, because:

a) Care is not available or there is no person in that country who can reasonably provide it, or
b) It is not affordable.

How much does the Adult Dependent Relative visa cost?

The Adult Dependent Relative visa is currently the most expensive visa that the UK offers. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will charge £3,250 just to consider an application. This cost is not refunded if the application is refused.  However, on the plus side, a A successful applicant however, is granted a permanent right of entry to reside in the UK, and unlike other visa applications there is no yearly Immigration Health Surcharge to pay.

What are the chances of success?

Sadly the Adult Dependent Relative visa carries one of the highest rates of refusal of all visa types. UK Visas and Immigration refuses a large number of applications under this route each year. Most refusals we have seen have been due to applicants failing to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that they meet the stringent eligibility criteria. The onus is on the applicant to prove that they meet the rules and UK Visas and Immigration will not offer help if the application is deficient. But this does not mean that the Adult Dependent Relative visa is impossible to obtain.

How can Shepherd and Wedderburn help you?

Our experts have extensive knowledge of this tricky route. We know the pitfalls and the problems that sponsors and applicants can face, and we can help you avoid them. 

In cases where we don’t think there is a good chance of success, we will make this clear to you from the outset so that you can make an informed decision before proceeding and incurring the costs of the visa application. In cases where we do see reasonable chances of success, our team will work collaboratively to combine their skills and expertise and maximise your prospects of success. We will work with you from start to finish to advise you on the best evidence to assemble and how best to present the case. We will draft detailed legal representations on your behalf to ensure that the decision-maker understands all of the important circumstances of the case.

Jacqueline Moore has successfully helped a number of clients in this area. She has a particular expertise in helping elderly parents of NHS doctors. You can read Jacqueline’s thoughts on the Adult Dependent Relative rules in her blog titled ‘Time to abolish the adult dependant relative rule’.

John Vassiliou has also achieved results in this area, having led a successful campaign to secure permission to remain in the UK for two elderly Iranian grandparents in 2019. This case achieved widespread coverage in national media. You can read the BBC’s article "Frail' Edinburgh couple granted leave to stay in UK"

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