Babies Born in the UK to Students on a Tier 4 Visa
The UK continues to be one of the most popular destinations for international students, both from within the EU and outside. In large part, this is due to the prestige of British educational establishments, most famously those in Cambridge, Oxford, Eton, and Harrow. In fact, nearly half a million international students make the UK their preferred study destination each year. Many overseas students find themselves remaining after their studies, and some may find a life partner and settle down with a family. And some students may even find themselves becoming a parent while they are studying.
If you are an international student currently in the UK and you have become a mother or father during your studies (or you are soon to be), then it is vitally important to understand the immigration law which applies. We frequently receive questions from international students who have become parents while studying, who want to know how the change of circumstances may affect their visa, whether the baby will be automatically British (and if not, when they will be), and how this affects their chance of securing citizenship). In this article, we will answer these important questions.
Will Becoming a Parent while Studying Affect My Tier 4 visa?
Becoming a parent while you are studying in the UK as a Tier 4 visa holder in no way affects your immigration status. You will not need to inform the Home Office, and you are not in breach of the conditions of your visa.
Will the Baby Become a British Citizen?
A child born in the UK does not automatically acquire citizenship; this will depend on the citizenship held by the parents. The Government guidance on British citizenship states that a child is automatically a British citizen if one parent is also a British citizen.
If neither parent is British, it is possible to register the child for British citizenship if either parent was ‘settled’ in the UK when the child was born. ‘Settled status’ means that one parent has either acquired permanent residency in the form of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or EU Settled Status (through the EU Settled Status Scheme).
Is it Possible to Apply for Leave to Remain for My Child if they do not Have British Citizenship?
It is important to know that even if they are not a British citizen, your child is legally entitled to remain with you in the UK, and no application is required to ensure this is the case. If you plan to leave the UK and return with your child, then you will, however, need to apply on their behalf for leave to remain as the child of a person with a Tier 4 (student) visa (also referred to as a Tier 4 dependant visa), or some other form of immigration status. With a Tier 4 dependant visa, your child will be able to:
- stay in the UK for the same length of time as their parent
- leave and re-enter the UK
- study in the UK when they are older
- apply to stay longer in the UK
In order to apply, you will need to:
- fill in the Tier 4 dependant application form online
- prepare the documents you need to provide to the Home Office
- pay the healthcare surcharge for your child
- pay the application fee
- provide your biometric information (fingerprints and facial photograph) at a UKVCAS service point
When Will my Child Become a British Citizen?
If your child is not entitled to British citizenship at birth, they may be able to acquire ILR once you have this status (for example after five years on a work visa), and one year later apply for citizenship. Another possible option is the 10-year residence route. Under the 10-year continuous residence route, a child born in the UK to non-British parents who remains in the UK until they are ten years of age can register as a British citizen. To qualify under this route, you will need to satisfy the Home Office they have not spent longer than 90 days out of the country in any of the years they have lived in the UK.
In some cases, if your child has spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in any year, if a solid reason is provided, the Home Office may exercise their discretion, and grant citizenship.
As the 10-year continuous residence route to citizenship requires evidence that spans a considerable period of time, it will be important to provide all of the proof necessary that they meet the criteria defined by the Home Office. For this reason, it is recommended that you engage the services of immigration lawyers who can help prepare the application and the required evidence.
Does Have a Child in the UK Increase the Parent’s Chances of Getting British Citizenship?
Having a child as an international student in the UK does not immediately confer any benefits in terms of immigration status or citizenship for a foreign parent. As a student in the UK, you may be able to acquire leave to remain, and later indefinite leave to remain and citizenship much faster under your own immigration eligibility.
Any possible benefit will only apply after your child has been living in the UK for several years. This is because under the family immigration route, it is possible to apply for a visa as a parent of a child if that child has been living in the UK for seven years continuously, and it would not be reasonable for the child to leave. For this type of application to be successful, you need to have sole or shared parental responsibility for the child. Given the importance of proving that it would not be reasonable for your child to leave, it is essential that you seek legal guidance when making such an application.
As an international student who is about to become a parent, or already is, the first port of call is to speak to your university advisor regarding your options. It is also advisable to find experienced immigration Solicitors who can help you determine the best course of action to secure your future, and that of your child, if you wish to remain in the UK. It may seem overwhelming, but with the right advice, you and your child will be able to acquire a secure immigration status and enjoy your lives in the UK.
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