Under UK immigration rules, “sole responsibility” or “sole parental responsibility” means that one parent no longer has parental responsibility for their child. This means that the UK sponsoring parent is solely responsible for the child’s upbringing and welfare. When a foreigner wants to bring a child who is not British with them to the UK through the family migration route, they must follow the requirements of sole parental responsibility. (e.g., with a spouse visa or parent visa). If a foreigner is already in the UK and wants to bring their child here, the regulations of exclusive parental responsibility may also apply. (e.g. on a child dependent visa if the parent holds a qualifying UK visa or if the parent is settled in the UK).
What is considered “sole responsibility”?
Under the UK’s sole responsibility immigration regulations, the UK sponsoring parent has sole responsibility for their child if the other parent has “abdicated or abandoned” their parental duties, leaving the UK sponsoring parent in charge of the child’s day-to-day care. This could happen if one parent dies or if a court decides to take away parental rights because of abuse or refusing to let the child get medical care.
A person has sole responsibility for a child if they are the only one in charge of making the important and big decisions about how to raise the child. The Home Office will check the following to see if a parent has sole parental responsibility for a child:
- The UK sponsoring parent is in charge of the child’s well-being and the most important parts of their lives, and no one else is.
- The UK sponsoring parent is the only one who can make decisions about the child’s education, health, medical care, religion, place of living, vacations, and other activities, without the need to consult anyone else.
- The UK sponsoring parent is the only person who is in charge of keeping the child safe and giving them direction.
- The UK sponsoring parent is the only person in charge of the child’s belongings.
- The UK sponsoring parent is the only person who can represent the child in court.
When figuring out if a person is the only parent, what matters is if they have “authority” or “control” over how the child is raised.
What does “sole responsibility” not mean?
It’s vital to remember that having exclusive parental responsibility is not the same as having legal custody, and that you can’t get it only by giving the child money. According to the sole responsibility guidance from the Home Office, they may also think that a person does not have sole parental responsibility in the following situations:
Both parents are active in raising the child, or there has been a recent change in the way they raise the child, which could be a sign that they are trying to get around immigration regulations, or there isn’t enough proof that they are the sole parents.
Also, it should be stated that just because a parent is in jail doesn’t imply that their parental responsibilities are instantly taken away or limited. Even if other adults, such family members and relatives, may help take care of a child on a daily basis (like when a grandparent takes a child to school and watches them after school), this does not indicate that they are the only ones responsible for the child.
Evidence to prove sole responsibility.
You may be requested to show proof that you are the only person responsible for a child, such as:
- The record of your child’s birth.
- Proof showing the other parent is no longer in charge of the child, such as a death certificate, letter or order from the court, or another official document.
- Divorce or dissolution of marriage certificate.
- If the applicant is already in the UK, they must show proof of their immigration status. (e.g., passport, visa, biometric residence permit).
- Proof that the applicant has made and is still making crucial decisions about their child’s development (e.g., letter from their school or medical doctor).
- Depending on your situation, the Home Office may ask you for more paperwork or to come in for an interview. Please know that this is common and gives the person making a decision about your case and the case of your child a chance to make sure that all immigration procedures have been followed. You can shorten the time it takes to process your application and increase your chances of success by giving the Home Office all the information they ask for and thinking ahead about any other proof they might need.
If you’re not sure if you have all the proof you need to support your case or if you’re worried that your application might be denied, call 0203 643 7508 /07446 888 377 or send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to one of our immigration lawyers.
What if you don’t meet the condition of exclusive responsibility?
Even if you don’t meet the Home Office’s requirements to be the child’s single parent, you may still be permitted to bring your child to the UK. This may be allowed if you can establish that there are “serious and compelling family or other considerations” that would make it bad for your child to leave the UK and that “suitable arrangements” have been made for their care.
In this circumstance, you need to do more than just say that you want your child to join you in the UK for your application to be accepted. You will need to establish that there are severe and compelling grounds, including if they have been neglected or abused or if they have unmet needs that need to be provided. This is a complicated area of immigration law, therefore you need help and advice from an expert to get a good result. If you don’t fit the requirements for sole responsibility, please call 0203 643 7508 /07446 888 377 or send an email to email@example.com to talk to one of our immigration lawyers.
What can Atty Magsino do for you?
Atty Magsino is an expert in all areas of personal immigration law, such as family visa route applications. Our immigration solicitors can:
- Check to see if you meet the requirements to be the only parent in charge of your child.
- Check to see if you can still apply to bring your child to the UK even if you are not the child’s only parent.
- Check to see if there are better ways for you and your child to move to the UK
- Once your child is in the UK, they can become a British citizen and settle there.
- How to deal with a visa refusal for your child to join you in the UK.