Children, Elderly Relatives and Family Reunions


Children cannot usually live in the UK if one of their parents lives in another country. However, there are exceptions to this, for example when the parent residing in the UK is solely responsible for the child or can show that there are serious reasons why they should not be separated from the child.

This usually applies when:
• The parent who lives in the UK or is coming to live in the UK is solely responsible for the child; or
• One of the child’s parents is deceased and the surviving parent either lives in the UK or is coming to live in the UK
In this context, the term ‘parent’ is broadly defined and includes both step-parents and adoptive parents.

Who is a Child?

A child must be under the age of 18 at the time of their application. They must show that they have some dependency on the parent who is settled in the UK or who is in the process of applying to settle in the UK. The child cannot be married or in a civil partnership and the parent’s accommodation must be sufficient for both themselves and the child to live in without the need for public funding.

Temporary permission will be granted for a maximum of two years to a parent who has to live in the UK to care for a child. The child making the application will be granted the same length of stay as their parent. In addition, if they are entering the UK with a partner of one of their parents, they will normally be granted the same period as the partner (up to a maximum of six months).

Adopted children are also included in this definition of a child if the foreign adoption order was made in a country on the ‘designated list’ and is included in the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973.

Elderly Relatives

Elderly people can apply to join a relative living in the UK if they are wholly/mainly financially dependent on that relative. To qualify, they must have no other close relatives in their own country who could support them; they must be solely dependent on the person who is settled in the UK.

The relative living in the UK (with whom the elderly person wishes to stay) must solely occupy or fully own their accommodation and it must be sufficient for both themselves and the elderly person to live in. The elderly relative must not need the assistance of public funding.

Those looking to settle in the UK under this category must be:
• Widowed parents aged 65 or older; or
• Parents or grandparents travelling together, if one of them is 65 years of age or older.

Children, siblings, uncles and aunts who are above the age of 18, as well as parents and grandparents who are under 65, may be able to request settlement in exceptional circumstances but must satisfy the criteria above.

Family Reunions

Asylum seekers can apply for family members to enter the UK under the Family Reunion Programme if they have been separated. In some circumstances, their family members may be given leave due to compassionate circumstances. Such family members must have been part of the family unit before they were split up (e.g. spouses and children under 18).

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