Parents and Adult Dependent Relatives

Can an elderly foreign parent can be brought to the UK to live with their family members in the UK? Learn more about the Adult Dependent Relative visa. 

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. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the 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.

The sponsor must hold one of the following statuses:

  • British citizen;
  • Irish citizen;
  • settled in the UK – this means holding indefinite leave to remain, Settled Status, or the right of abode;
  • Pre-Settled Status; or
  • Refugee or Humanitarian Protection.

Skilled Worker and Student visa holders cannot act as sponsors. They must first obtain indefinite leave to remain. 

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

  • a parent aged 18 or over;
  • a grandparent;
  • a brother or sister aged 18 or over; or
  • a son or daughter aged 18 or over.

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:
  • care is not available or there is no person in that country who can reasonably provide it, or
  • it is not affordable.

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.

Sadly, the Adult Dependent Relative visa carries one of the highest rates of refusal of all visa types. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) refuses a large number of applications under this route each year. Most refusals are 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 they meet the rules. UKVI will not offer help if the application is deficient. Furthermore, UKVI decision-makers tend to have a misplaced focus on the availability of care homes in an applicant’s country of origin. Care homes are not always an appropriate answer to parental care needs. Many parents have emotional/psychological care needs associated with isolation, loneliness, and depression which simply cannot be met by placing them in a care home or instructing a paid carer to call in for a few hours a day.

Due to the high instance of refusal decisions from UKVI, applicants often have to appeal against initial refusals. All Adult Dependent Relative decisions carry a right of appeal on human rights grounds. Appeals are made to a specialist immigration court called the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). This court hears appeals against immigration refusals in cases with human rights issues. Often, appeals have a better chance of success than the initial visa applications, but an appeal can result in a long, and drawn out process. Our team has successfully led a number of recent court appeals for clients.

How can Shepherd and Wedderburn help you? 

Our experts are sensitive to the pressures adult children face when confronted with their aging parents’ care. We have extensive knowledge of this tricky visa 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 incurring the costs and stress of a 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.

Our team is led by John Vassiliou who has had a number of successful outcomes in this area. In 2019 he 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" here.

To arrange a fixed-fee consultation to discuss an Adult Dependent Relative case, email John Vassiliou at today with details about your current situation, or fill in the webform below.

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