In July 2012, new rules made it almost impossible for Foreign & Commonwealth families to bring their parents to the UK. AFF continues to receive lots of queries about this, and with applications currently costing £3,250, we’ve asked our F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston to explain things…


What are the requirements to bring my parents over?
They will need to demonstrate that they require long-term personal care, such as help with everyday tasks like washing, cooking and dressing. They must show they can’t access this care in their home country, either due to cost or availability. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to argue that there are no family members available back home to look after them; the Home Office states that the family in the UK could, and should, pay for carers to visit the relative, or place them in a care home.

What’s the success rate of applications?
There has been a massive decrease in the applications rate since the new rules were introduced. Between 2010 and 2014, the success rate dropped from 65 per cent to less than 10 per cent, with the majority only successful on appeal. To make matters worse, there’s no automatic right of appeal, because the Home Office doesn’t consider separating adult relatives to be contrary to their human rights.

Why has the government made the rules so difficult to meet?
It’s a cost-saving measure. According to the Home Office, the main aim of the new rules was to reduce the burden on the taxpayer, ‘in view of the significant NHS and social care costs to which adult dependant relative cases can give rise’.

Is anything being done to challenge these rules?
In May 2017, a campaigning organisation called BritCits challenged the rules through the Court of Appeal. It argued that the rules are disproportionate and therefore unlawful; that they give little regard to the psychological and emotional needs of the parent or the cultural norms for looking after elderly relatives. It said that a reduction in NHS and social care costs could have been achieved with a requirement to take out health insurance or pay for all treatment received, or by imposing an income threshold on the UK sponsor.

The court dismissed the challenge, stating that ‘significantly fewer dependants will be able to satisfy the new conditions, but that was always the intention’. However, it found that the rules could be interpreted more generously – giving a little more scope for arguments about the emotional needs of the parent.

Is it worth making an application anyway?
Read the guidance first to see if your application is likely to succeed. If so, then seek experienced, qualified immigration advice. We don’t recommend making an application if it’s likely to fail, as you’ll lose the money and the refusal could have a detrimental effect on your parents’ ability to obtain a visit visa in the future.

How long can my parents visit for?
Two-, five- and ten-year visas are available, but the maximum time that can be spent in the UK on one visit is six months. It’s important that your parent isn’t spending more time in the UK than in their home country, or they could be refused entry. The Home Office has tightened up on the visit visa rules, making it a lot more difficult to bring elderly relatives to the UK if you cannot prove they intend to return home after six months. Applications from some locations, such as North Africa, are more likely to be refused than others.

Although AFF can’t provide specific advice on these applications, there’s information at aff.org.uk


Case study

RUSILA Halofaki’s father passed away recently in Fiji. Her mother is now alone and is financially supported by Rusila and her husband, who own their own house and would love for Rusila’s mother to move to the UK so they can look after her. Unfortunately, she won’t meet the strict requirements.

Rusila said: “It’s expensive for us to keep travelling home and to have mum come here on short trips. The constant worry of her wellbeing weighs us down emotionally and psychologically. There will come a point when my mum won’t be able to travel the 24-plus hours from Fiji to visit us.

“The strict requirements should be considerate of those of us who are in a financially sound position to support our parents, as our intentions are honourable. Why can’t the armed forces community bring our parents under the same dependants’ visa we originally acquired when we joined our spouses?”

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