Skip to main content

Call us Mon-Fri

9am-5pm GMT

Visas and British Passports for Children

The UK immigration system can be complex and daunting for families. There is also a lot of online noise and misinformation out there on the position for children. Our team can cut through all of this and provide you with clear and strategic advice tailored to your family’s unique situation and designed to meet your immigration goals.

Our experienced immigration team can help you navigate the UK immigration system to obtain a visa or, if the circumstances allow, a British passport for any non-British child or children who are part of your family unit.

We can also provide a tailored representation service for clients making visa and nationality applications for children, taking care of all aspects of the process for you and acting as the main point of contact for the Home Office.

Frequently asked questions

Here we look at some commonly asked questions and situations concerning eligibility and applications for UK visas for children.

The answer to this question depends on whether your stepdaughter’s other parent is playing a role in her life. The Immigration Rules only allow a child from a previous relationship to come to the UK if the child’s other parent is dead or if your partner has ‘sole responsibility’ for the child. If the child’s other parent plays no role in the child’s life, then you should be able to bring your stepdaughter to the UK. If the other parent has any kind of role, even a limited one, it can be difficult to meet this requirement.

Sole responsibility cases are complex and you should get expert legal advice on whether the ‘sole responsibility’ test is met at the earliest stage possible in your planning.

This depends on several factors such as what visa you will have in the UK or whether you are a British national. The details of the guardianship that you have been granted are important, as is the length of the time that you have been caring for the child. The Immigration Rules have very strict criteria that need to be met and it is important to seek advice at an early stage to identify the application that will give you the highest prospects of success.

Our team have had considerable experience in advising families on navigating the Immigration rules in these circumstances and can help ensure that your child’s application has the highest prospects of success.

Possibly. This depends on whether you can satisfy the Home Office decision-maker that you have ‘sole responsibility’ for your child. You say the child’s father has had no involvement in their life and you will have to establish that, although your mother had physical care of your child, you have been the one making all the decisions in respect of the important aspects of their life. Relevant decisions include, but are not limited to, their education, health care and religious upbringing. You will also have to show that you can provide adequate accommodation and maintenance for the child, in line with the requirements set by the Home Office.

These types of cases are complex, and the risk of a visa refusal is high, particularly if you submit this application without the benefit of legal advice.

Our team is very experienced in these types of cases and can support you to make the best possible application to maximise the chances of visa success first time.

A child adopted overseas will not be British unless their British parent is habitually resident in the UK at the time of the adoption. In most of these types of cases, the adoptive parent will not satisfy the habitual residence rules and therefore the child will not have British citizen conferred on them at the point of the adoption.

An application can, however, be made for the child to be registered as a British citizen. If the child was adopted in a country whose adoptions are recognised by UK law then, subject to qualifying criteria, an application for registration can be made. If the child was adopted in a country whose adoption laws are not recognised by the UK, registration is only possible if there are exceptional, compelling or compassionate circumstances justifying a grant of British citizenship.

Discretionary applications involving adopted children are very fact-sensitive and require careful preparation and skill in order to maximise the chances of success. Our team have had considerable success in making applications of this type, including cases where children have been adopted in countries whose adoption laws are not recognised by the UK.

A child born in the UK before one of their parent’s secured settlement is not born automatically British. However, Immigration Law gives the child, born in the UK, an automatic entitlement to register as a British citizen after one of their parents has secured settled status, also known as indefinite leave to remain.

For the purposes of UK immigration law, a person is no longer considered a child when they reach the age of 18. For the purposes of a visa application, the requirement is that your child is under the age of 18 at the date of application. If you child turns 18 while the application is being processed, the fact that the child has turned 18 will not adversely impact the application. If your child is 17, it is very important that you obtain legal advice in respect of any visa application to ensure that you maximise the chances of success. You may only have one chance to get it right, as a fresh application may not be an option if your child has turned 18.

No. The visa and nationality process is now fully digital, with documents uploaded to the digital platforms used by the Home Office. You will not need to send any original documents to the Home Office.

We can handle all this aspect of the application for you. Our team deal with this technology daily and can upload all the necessary documents for you, ensuring a smooth process. We will make sure that your application and documents are uploaded correctly and in line with Home Office requirements, and will collate everything in an application package.

How can Thorntons help?

At Thorntons, we are privileged to have helped hundreds of families secure visas and British passports for children. We understand the sensitivities involved in cases concerning children and what is at stake for every family member involved. Our solicitors are friendly, approachable and highly knowledgeable in dealing with immigration situations impacting children.

We offer a range of services for families looking obtain a visa or register a child as a British citizen. We also regularly collaborate with our in-house specialist family lawyers in situations where family law and immigration issues intersect, such as international adoptions and marital breakdown.

Initial Consultation Service Package

You will receive an advice session as part of an initial fixed fee consultation service with an immigration specialist. At the session, we will discuss the requirements for the visa or nationality route, assess your child’s eligibility, answer any questions you have on the process, and provide a follow-up summary email. You can choose to either submit the application yourself or instruct us to support you further through our end-to-end representation service package.

Our initial consultation costs £350 plus VAT. If you are based overseas, then you may not be charged VAT. If you choose to use our full representation service within three months of the initial consultation package, then we will discount 50% of the cost of the initial consultation service from the cost of future work instructed under the Representative Service Package.

Representative Service Package

We will take care of all aspects of the application process for you and act as representative on your child’s application. This service includes preparation of an application package which will include our legal representations and your supporting documentation, uploading the application package to the Home Office’s commercial third partner portal and keeping you fully updated at all stages of the process.

We offer in-person consultations with immigration specialists at our Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee Offices, or via a video call if you prefer. To arrange a consultation, please call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 or complete our online enquiry form below.