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Children of British citizens and settled people

This page explains how your child or children can join you in the UK if you are a British citizen, or if you have been given permission to settle here permanently (also known as 'indefinite leave to remain').

By 'child' we mean someone who is under 18 years old.

Children cannot normally come to settle in the UK unless both parents are settled here or have been given permission to settle here. The only exceptions are where:

  • 1 parent is dead and the other is settled or coming to settle here; or
  • the parent who is settled or coming to settle in the UK has had sole responsibility for the child's upbringing; or
  • 1 parent is settled or coming to settle in the UK and there there are serious reasons why the child must be allowed to come here.

The term 'parent' includes the stepfather or stepmother of a child whose father or mother is dead, both parents of an illegitimate child, and an adoptive parent in certain circumstances.

There are additional requirements for adopted children - See 'More information' below.

Your child must show that they:

  • are not leading an independent life;
  • are not married or in a civil partnership;
  • have not formed an independent family unit; and
  • are aged under 18.

If you and your child meet the above requirements, and you can show that you have accommodation where you can all live without help from public funds, you can bring your child to settle in the UK.

Before your child travels to the UK, they must obtain a visa. The Applying for a visa page explains how to apply.

If the child is already in the UK with temporary permission to stay, they can apply to settle here permanently using the SET(F) application form.

More information

  • Adopted children

    The requirements below are additional to the rules for all children wishing to join their parent(s) in the UK (see above).

    You can bring your adopted child to the UK if you can show that they:

    • were adopted when both parents lived together abroad or when either parent was settled in the UK; and
    • have the same rights as any of your other children; and
    • were adopted because their original parents could not care for them, and there has been a genuine transfer of parental responsibility;
    • have broken all ties with their original family; and
    • were not adopted just to make it easier to enter the UK.

    Your child must obtain a visa before they travel to the UK.

    A foreign adoption order will only be recognised in the UK if it was made in a country on the 'designated list' - this means a country that is included in the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973. You can find the current designated list on the Department for Children, Schools and Families website.

    A child who was adopted in a country on the designated list will normally be given permission to stay in the UK permanently if:

    • both you and the child's other parent are settled here; or
    • both you and the child's other parent have permission to settle here permanently and you both are entering the country together with the child; or
    • you have permission to settle here permanently and are entering the country with the child, and the other parent is already settled here; or
    • you have sole responsibility for the child.

    If your child was adopted in a country on the designated list and is coming to the UK with a parent who has temporary permission to stay here (also known as'limited leave to remain'), they will be allowed to stay for up to 12 months.

    If the adoption order was made in a country that is not on the designated list, the child can apply to come to the UK to be adopted through the courts here. In this case, they will initially be allowed to stay here for up to 2 years.

    Your child will not automatically become a British citizen, unless you adopted them through the UK courts and at least one of the adoptive parents was a British citizen when the adoption order was made.

    Intercountry adoption

    If your child is coming to the UK so that they can be adopted by you here under the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption, they must:

    • be joining one or two prospective parents who are both habitually resident in the UK and who are the sole occupiers of accommodation where they can can support and house the child without help from public funds;
    • be the subject of an agreement made under the Hague Convention; and
    • have been entrusted to the prospective parents by the authorities of the country from which they are coming; and
    • be under the age of 18.

    This is just a brief guide to the immigration rules on intercountry adoption. You must also meet other requirements before you will be allowed to adopt a child from another country. You can find more information on adoption laws and procedures on the Department for Children, Schools and Families website. You should also read more detailed guidance about intercountry adoption and the Immigration Rules.

    Permission to stay in the United Kingdom temporarily, for the length of time stated on your visa.

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