Applications for Further Leave to Remain and Children:
Information about the newest changes
Further Leave to Remain refers to an application made by an individual who is already in the United Kingdom and wishes to extend their stay beyond the duration of their existing visa. Between September 2021 and 2022, the UK government granted over 462,000 extensions of visas, of which over 130,000 were granted on a family basis.
It is, without a doubt, an integral aspect of UK immigration law. It is therefore important to be aware of recent changes to it. The changes to be discussed in this article are to do with children. Below you will find firstly an outline of what the rules used to be followed by an explanation of the changes that apply for any new applications made to FLR applications for children.
The Old Rules:
Rules relating to the making of FLR applications for children used to be governed by Paragraph 276 ADE(1) of the Immigration Rules.
Essentially, if a child, born inside or outside the United Kingdom, had lived in the UK continuously for 7 years, the child would have been able to apply for limited leave to remain under the route to settlement which would have been expected to last a 10 year period.
The New Rules:
Paragraph 276 ADE(1) has now been replaced with Appendix Private Life. The main intention of making this change is to ensure that human rights enshrined in European Convention on Human Rights remain upheld. In particular, Appendix Private Life seeks to celebrate Article 8 of the convention. This article states that every individual has the right to respect for their private and family life, the Appendix introduces itself by explicitly declaring that:
“The Private Life route is for a person seeking permission to stay in the United Kingdom on the basis that they have developed a Private Life in the UK.”
Just as the old rules were, the Private Life is a route to settlement.
So, what are the new rules?
Well, the rules are different for children born inside the UK and those children born outside the UK. Here are the differences:
Children born inside the UK:
A child who is born and has lived in the UK continuously for 7 years will now be able to apply for settlement immediately after the 7 years have been completed.
The major difference between this rule and the previous rules is that children no longer need to apply for leave to remain once their 7 years have been completed.
What are the benefits?
The main benefit of this is that the process has become significantly more efficient because there is no longer a need to make repeated extensions until the 10 year point.
The second benefit is that a child who is born in the UK who has lived in the UK for a period of less than 7 years may be added as a dependant to a person on the private life route. It is worth noting, however, that this may only be done in certain circumstances but where it is permitted, it allows the applicants and dependants to regularise their immigration status.
Children born outside the UK:
A child who is born outside the UK but who has lived in the UK continuously for 7 years will be able to apply for settlement after 5 years. The key difference here is that under previous rules a child in this position would only have been able to apply for settlement after 10 years.
Once again, the introduction of rules under Appendix Private Life have created a more efficient path for children to successfully obtain settled status.
What are the eligibility requirements under Appendix Private Life?
The relevant rule is posted under PL 3.1, and it reads as follows:
Where the applicant is aged under 18 at the date of application, the following requirements must be met:
- the applicant must have continuously been a resident in the UK for at least 7 years
- the decision maker must be satisfied that it would not be reasonable to expect the applicant to leave the UK
To summarise, this new rule finds an appropriate middle ground between the 7 year time period enshrined in the old rules, a significant recognition of the respect for private and family life found in the European Convention on Human Rights and the important will to advance the rules in order to allow children who have become integrated into the UK and into UK’s lifestyle to achieve settled status.
Are there any disadvantages to Appendix Private Life?
In the instance that the applicant child meets the requirements outlined to apply for status under Appendix Private Life, and the parents meet the family criteria presented in Appendix FM, the applicant child could also make a successful application under Appendix FM as a dependant child.
On the one hand, it seems better for children in this position as they have two routes under which they could obtain settled status. However, to argue the contrary, there is potential that the existence of two separate routes could create confusion amongst applicants and decision makers alike.
Well, in a much-appreciated attempt to clarify this confusion, if an applicant child fulfils the requirements under both Appendix FM as a dependant child and Appendix Private Life as a an independent child who has resided in the UK continuously for 7 years, their application would automatically be done under Appendix Private Life.
To put this into simple terms, this means that an applicant child automatically gets placed into the shorter route to settlement. So, all a child needs to do is reside in the UK for 7 years continuously and ensure that the Home Office caseworker is satisfied that the applicant is integrated into the UK to the point that it would be unreasonable to expect them to leave.
For the most part, this this is advantageous for the applicant, and it admittedly is. However, it is worth noting that this could mean that a child and its parents have differing lengths to settlement. Of course, this is a little annoying but overall ensures quicker settlement routes for children.