Apply as a parent

You can apply to live in the UK to care for your child.

If you’re eligible to apply as a partner, you must do that instead of applying as a parent.

Your child must either:

  • be under 18 on the date you apply
  • have been under 18 when you were first granted leave and not live an independent life

Your child is living an independent life if, for example, they’ve left home, got married and had children.

Your child must be living in the UK. One of the following must also be true:

  • they’re a British citizen
  • they’ve settled in the UK - for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
  • if you’re applying in the UK, they’ve lived in the UK for 7 years continuously and it would not be reasonable for them to leave

If your child has settled status you may also be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme or for a family permit.

If you do not meet the rules to enter or remain in the UK because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you might still be able to apply to extend your stay or switch to a family visa. Read the guidance for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents.

Parental responsibility

You need to have sole or shared parental responsibility for your child.

If you share parental responsibility, the child’s other parent must:

  • not be your partner
  • be either a British citizen or settled in the UK

If the child lives with their other parent or carer, you must have access to the child in person, as agreed with the other parent or carer or by a court order.

What you’ll need to prove

You must be able to prove that you’re taking an active role in your child’s upbringing and you plan to continue after you apply. For example you could provide letters from your child’s:

  • school confirming you take them to school or go to parent evenings
  • doctor, dentist, or health visitor confirming that you take them to appointments
  • other parent confirming how much contact you have with your child

If you provide a letter from the other parent, you’ll need to include proof of their identity. This should be an official document which has their signature on it, for example a copy of their passport, tax return or photocard driving licence.

English language and financial requirements

You must also prove you:

If your child or any other dependants live with you, you must also prove you can financially support them without claiming public funds.

If you do not meet the English language and financial requirements you can still extend your permission to stay if:

  • your child in the UK is a British citizen or has lived in the UK for 7 years
  • it would be unreasonable for them to leave the UK

How long you can stay

You’ll get permission to stay for 2.5 years. After this you’ll need to apply to extend your stay.

How to apply

You’ll need to prepare information and documents to provide with your application.

How you apply depends on whether you’re in the UK or not.

Outside the UK

You must apply online. You must also complete Appendix 5.

There’s a different way to apply in North Korea.

In the UK

You must apply online.

If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you must also apply online to waive the fee. You might not have to pay the fee if you:

  • do not have a place to live and you cannot afford one
  • have a place to live but cannot afford your essential living costs like food or heating
  • have a very low income and paying the fee would harm your child’s wellbeing

Read the guidance for parents before applying.

Get help to apply online

You can get help with completing the online form if you:

  • do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device
  • do not have internet access

You can only use this service if you’re applying in the UK.

You cannot get immigration advice through this service.

Applying with other children

You can add other children to your application as dependants if one of the following applies:

  • they are under 18 on the date you apply

  • they were under 18 when they were first granted leave on a family visa and do not live an independent life

When you can settle permanently

The earliest you can apply to settle in the UK (called ‘indefinite leave to remain’) is after you’ve lived in the country for 5 years continuously with permission to stay (‘leave to remain’) as a parent.