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Visas for under 18s

Feb 07, 2024

If you are an overseas national looking to move to the UK and would like your dependent children to accompany you, or you are already living in the UK and would like your children to join you once you are settled and have set up home, they will usually need a visa to do so.

There are various UK visa under 18 options, although these can differ in terms of what each option allows, who is eligible and the criteria that must be met. The following guide looks at the rules and requirements when applying for a ‘Child Visa UK’, helping the parents of overseas dependent children to navigate the application process on their behalf.

What is the Child Dependant Visa UK?

When it comes to obtaining a ‘Child Visa UK’ for the dependent child of an overseas national, the Child Dependant Visa is the ideal option if you are working or studying in the UK and would like your child to accompany or follow to join you in the UK on the same immigration route. You can apply on their behalf when applying for your own visa from outside the UK, or separately at a later date once you are already in the UK.

The Child Dependant Visa UK is a derivative visa that will allow the dependent child of a primary applicant or principal visa-holder to apply for entry clearance, provided they meet the eligibility requirements. This will cover a scenario where you, as an overseas national, are looking to come to the UK or are already living in the UK on one of some different immigration routes, including the Skilled Worker, High Potential Individual, Global Talent, Start-up, Innovator, Temporary Work, Global Business Mobility or Student routes.

The Child Dependant Visa is a temporary visa and will reflect the length of leave granted to you as the principal visa-holder. This means that if your child’s application is successful, their visa will normally end on the same date as yours, and their grant of leave can also be extended at the same time if you continue to qualify under the relevant route.

Child Dependant Visa requirements

A dependent child is a child under the age of 18, and if your child is over 16, they must not be leading an independent life. This means that they must normally live with you unless they are in full-time education at either boarding school, college or university, and they must be financially supported by you. They must also not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children of their own to be able to qualify.

The eligibility criteria can vary here, depending on the immigration route under which leave is sought. However, in all instances, you will need to provide evidence on your child’s behalf to show that they satisfy the relationship requirement, such as their birth certificate, as well as a financial requirement. For example, under the Skilled Worker route, you will need to provide evidence of £315 for one child and £200 for each additional child. This is on top of the £1270 that you will need to show that you can support yourself when applying at the same time, plus £285 for any dependent partner.

What is the Child Family Visa UK?

The Child Family Visa UK will be the appropriate visa if you would like your child to accompany or to join you in the UK and you are the partner of either a British or Irish citizen, a person with indefinite leave to remain, someone with settled status or proof of permanent residence, or in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection.
The Child Family Visa UK is a visa that will allow the dependent child of a primary applicant or principal visa-holder to apply for entry clearance, provided they meet the eligibility requirements. This is where you are the partner of someone settled in the UK and applying at the same time as your child or have already applied and been granted leave.
As with a Child Dependant Visa UK, a Child Family Visa will last until your own visa ends, even if your child’s visa starts later than yours. A visa for the partner of someone settled in the UK will usually be granted for 2 years and 9 months, although leave can again be extended while you make your renewal application. This will also provide a clear path to settlement to be able to stay in the UK permanently.

Child Family Visa requirements

Your child must be aged under 18 at the date of application. They must not be married or in a civil partnership, and they must not have formed an independent family unit or be leading an independent life. They must also be financially supported by you.
For your child to be eligible for entry clearance on a Family Visa UK, you must be applying or already have leave as the partner of someone settled in the UK. However, your child does not need to be the biological child of that person, but you must instead have sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing, or there must be compelling compassionate circumstances which would make excluding them from the UK undesirable. You and your partner must also be able to show that there is adequate maintenance and accommodation for your child without recourse to public funds, including a combined gross income of £18,600, plus £3,800 for your first child and £2,400 for each additional child.

What is the Child Student Visa UK?

The Child Student Visa UK will allow your child to apply for a visa in their own right, rather than seeking permission dependent on your own grant of leave. However, your child will still need your consent as their parent or guardian. You will also need to be in a position to pay for their school fees, as this is not a route that will enable your child to attend a state school.
The Child Student Visa UK is a visa that will allow a child aged between 4 and 17 years old to apply for visa, provided they will be studying at a private or independent school in the UK. Alternatively, a child aged 16 or 17 can apply for a Student Visa, although they will need to be sponsored by a licensed student sponsor.
A Child Student Visa is again a temporary visa but will allow your child to come to the UK to study at an independent school for several years. How long they can stay will depend on their age and the length of the course. For children under 16, leave will be granted for courses up to 6 years, and children over 16 but under 18, leave will be for the course length, up to 3 years. In all cases, an additional 4-month period will be added on top. For a Student Visa, your child will usually be able to stay in the UK for up to 2 years.

Child Student Visa requirements

For a Child Student Visa, your child must be aged between 4 and 17, whereas for a Student Visa they must be either 16 or 17 to qualify. In both cases, they will also need written proof of your consent, as their parent or guardian, to study in the UK.

To be eligible for a Child Student Visa UK, your child must have an unconditional offer of a place on a course at an independent school. They must also be able to show that they will have access to enough money to support themselves in the UK and pay for their course fees. For a Student Visa, your child must have been offered a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor and have the funds to support themselves and pay for their course. They must also be able to read, write, speak and understand English.

What is the Child Visit Visa UK?

If your child does not qualify for any of the other visa options, or you would simply like your child to visit you in the UK for up to 6 months, an application can be made for a Child Visit Visa. With the right paperwork, they may even be able to travel unaccompanied to visit you.
A Child Visit Visa is a visa that will enable a child to visit a parent in the UK or to accompany a parent to visit their other parent, or their parent’s partner, in the UK.
A Child Visit Visa will enable your child to accompany you to the UK or visit you if you are already there, for a period of up to 6 months. They may apply for a single-entry visa, or a visa with 2-, 5- or 10-years validity, although each stay in the UK must not exceed the permitted length of stay of 6 months. In some cases, depending on your child’s nationality, they may not need to apply for a visa in advance, although they must still satisfy immigration officials on arrival in the UK of the purpose of their visit.

Child Visit Visa requirements

A child under the age of 18 can travel with you to the UK on a Child Visit Visa, even if you are travelling under a different type of visa. They can also travel with another adult, or even travel unaccompanied, provided they have your written consent and contact details, and suitable care and reception arrangements have been put in place.
There is no relationship requirement for a Child Visit Visa, although your child will still need to show that they are coming to the UK for a family visit. They will also need to show that they have sufficient funds to be able to support themselves during their stay, either independently or with your help, and can afford to pay for their return or onward journey. To be granted a Visit Visa, it must be clear that this will not be used by your child to live in the UK for lengthy periods through frequent or successive visits, and that they do not intend to make the UK their main home and will leave at the end of their stay.

How do you apply for a Child Visa UK?

When applying for a ‘Child Visa UK’ on behalf of your child, depending on the type of visa, you can apply at the same time as your own application or separately at a later date. The application may even be for a visa in your child’s own right. However, in all cases, you or your child will need to submit an online application for them and pay the relevant fee.

The fees for a ‘Child Visa UK’ can vary quite significantly, so you should always check first before applying.

In some cases, there may also be an Immigration Health Surcharge, payable each year that your child will be living in the UK, to enable them to access the NHS.

Having applied, and paid the relevant fees, your child may then be required to attend an overseas visa application centre to provide their biometric information. They will also need to provide any documentation in support, including a valid passport or other travel document, together with any proof to satisfy the criteria for their chosen route.

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