Dependant Child Visa Processing Times
While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected most people, it has been especially challenging for family members, including non-UK spouses and children who have been unable to join their loved ones in the UK. Delays in processing visas and travel restrictions meant that overseas non-UK family members of work, study, or other visa holders who were already in the UK, could not make the journey to join them. For this reason, some families have been separated for a matter of months, causing considerable distress and anxiety. For children, being separated from a parent can be especially confusing and upsetting. Thankfully, while there are still travel restrictions in place (e.g. from India), visa processing has returned to normal, and some countries are reopening their borders. In this article, we will take a look at the visa processing times for dependant child visas and what can be done to minimise the time taken to receive a positive decision.
Is My Child Eligible For A Dependant Child Visa?
Most visa categories allow the spouse/partner and children of the main visa holder to apply for a dependant child visa. To check the eligibility criteria for a dependant child visa, it is advisable to review the ‘partner and child’ section on the Home Office website for the type of visa the main applicant holds (or is applying for). For example, the Skilled Worker visa guidance states, “Your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours”. Under the student visa route, dependant children can come to the UK if their parent is:
- a full-time student on a postgraduate level course (RQF level six or above) that lasts nine months or longer
- a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than six months
- a Doctorate Extension Scheme student
In general, the Home Office rules confirm that children will be eligible if they are ‘dependant’, i.e. they:
- live with the main visa holder
- are not married or in a civil partnership
- do not have any children themselves
- are financially supported in the UK by their parents without needing to access public funds (i.e. benefits), or;
- were born in the UK during the main applicant’s stay
Dependant child visa applications may also need to include evidence of sufficient support funds, for example:
- Skilled Worker route: £315 (or £200 for each additional child)
- Student visa route: £845 a month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London, and £680 a month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London. The guidance also states, “If your partner or child is applying at a different time to you (they’re applying separately), they only need to prove they have money to support themselves”.
What Is The Standard Processing Time For A Dependant Child Visa?
Processing times for child dependant visas tend to vary depending on where the application is submitted:
- Applications submitted outside the UK: three weeks (this will apply in most cases for new dependant child visa applications)
- Applications submitted inside the UK: eight weeks (this will apply when extending or switching to a dependant child visa in the UK).
The Home Office guidance does state, however, that it may take longer to process an application for a child if the applicant:
- has not provided sufficient evidence of support funds
- has not provided all of the supporting documents requested by the Home Office
- has not provided any additional supporting documents requested by the Home Office outside of the required timeframe
- has a criminal conviction or another personal circumstance that needs to be reviewed
How Can I Receive A Faster Decision On My Dependant Child/Child’s Visa?
Depending on where you are applying from and the type of visa held by the main applicant, it may be possible to have a decision on a child dependant visa made faster by using the priority or super-priority service. This will be confirmed when you apply. The priority service costs an additional £500 and can lead to a decision being made within five working days. The cost of the super-priority service within the UK is £800 and will typically lead to a final decision by the end of the next working day.
Whether you choose to use the standard or priority processing services, you can still help to ensure a timely decision by:
- completing the application form carefully and completely
- supplying all of the supporting evidence upfront – be careful to follow any guidance on supplying originals/copies and translations
- providing sufficient evidence of income to support the family
- having your application checked over by an immigration Solicitor before you apply, you can be confident that there are no issues that will cause an unnecessary delay. If they do identify a potential problem, the Solicitor will draft a covering letter providing more details to the assessing case officer
Delays can also be avoided by ensuring you include the correct unique reference number for the main applicant’s visa on that of the dependant child; the Home Office states that dependant children need to include the “Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN). You’ll find it on emails and letters from the Home Office about your application”.
Given the importance of securing a positive decision on your dependant child application, it is essential to take your time and follow the process carefully. Unfortunately, even the slightest error or omission on the application form can lead to a delay or refusal. For this reason, do consider engaging an Immigration Solicitor who can assess your application and documents prior to submission; the peace of mind this offers is invaluable.