As a person of African Caribbean descent I am well aware of the fact that many parents, particularly mothers, leave their child in their home country and come to build a life in the UK. It can seem astonishing to many that a parent would leave their child for years on end and re-establish themself on the other side of the world.
However, this should not be seen as an act of abandonment but it should be seen for what it is – a desperate act of survival. In the ideal world a family would consist of mother, father and children happily living in the same household, parents paying all the bills easily and having all the time in the world to attend to school activities and homework. Well this is the real world and for many reasons, some of them historic, many families in the so-called developing world do not live this type of lifestyle.
So, especially in single mother households, the decision is made to leave the child with a member of the extended family and to move abroad. Money and essential items are regularly sent home and ultimately the life of the child left behind is materially better than it would have been had the parent not made the decision to relocate.
So this situation continues on year in year out. Then…just before the child becomes an 18 year old adult the parent decides to bring the child to live in the UK.
Well, to this I would say…you may have left it too late.
One of the main reasons that it may be too late is purely administrative. In normal circumstances when applying to bring a child to the UK you should note that the child must be under 18 years old at the time of making the application. By waiting until your child is say 17 years old does not leave much time to deal with any refusal / objections raised by the Entry Clearance Officer (the immigration officer abroad who makes the decision). You may need time to provide further evidence or to challenge the decision. It will be less favourable if the decision is being made or challenged when the child is already an adult.
This area of UK Immigration law relies heavily on human rights and on the human condition. So if you have left your child back home when s/he were say 3 years old, that child is now 15 years old and you are only now sending for the child, you can see that complications may arise. A principal question that an Entry Clearance Officer must answer is – Do you have sole parental responsibility for your child? The answer to this question will be apparent by the facts, such as:
1) Where is your child’s other biological parent – if this is not a joint application?
2) Who has been looking after your child for all the years that you have been away? And why can’t this person continue to look after your child?
3) Who has been making key decisions in your child’s life regarding for example, education and healthcare?
4) Who has been supporting your child financially?
5) Have you visited your child since you have been in the UK? How often? And if not, why not?
6) What will happen to your child if s/he is not given a visa to join you in the UK?
7) Will you be able to support your child here without needing benefits?
These are crucial questions that must be answered to the satisfaction of the Entry Clearance Officer if your application is going to succeed without giving you too much headache.
Many people think logically that – this is my child and therefore s/he should be able to join me in the UK. Unfortunately, gone are the days when it was just a simple case of “sending for your child” to join you. The UK Immigration rules are a lot more complicated than they were for the first immigrants who came to the UK in the 50s and 60s. The needs of the UK have changed since then and it is no longer seen as being of great benefit to have another wave of immigrants entering the UK. Therefore, you must show that your application is based on solid human rights grounds – essentially as in the right to a family life in your specific circumstances.
Your application should be full of independent evidence to support your case. The Entry Clearance Officer is not going to believe your situation just because you say so. It is fair enough that UK immigration insist that every case is supported with strong evidence and if your case is genuine you should have no problem gathering this evidence. Of course, realistically, it is difficult to get letters and statements from abroad but you should do your upmost to get this – it will serve you better in the long run – especially if you have to appeal an Entry Clearance Officer decision at court.
There real message here is that taking all factors into consideration it is probably best for you to apply for your child to join you in the UK at the earliest possible chance – and I suspect that’s what you want as well.
Rachel Okello is a UK based solicitor and immigration consultant with Rogols Solicitors in Birmingham UK. www.rogols.co.uk/contact
Categories: Immigration Review