Children as young as two are reportedly being denied the opportunity to join their families especially the mothers who are already in the United Kingdom (UK).
Recall that the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the Conservative Party are keen on controlling the number of migrants to the UK in a move aimed at managing the excessive migration to Britain especially through the study and health care routes respectively.
How The Home Office is Systematically Barring Young Children From Joining Their Mothers
According to investigations by UK news platform, Observer, “the Home Office is systematically barring young children from joining their mothers in Britain despite extensive proof the women are their primary caregivers.”
Children Who Are Mostly Affected By The Visa Denials
Children who are mostly affected by this visa denial are from migrant single mothers who came to the UK working for the NHS or other social care providers.
These children, as young as age 2, are mostly left in the care of their relatives or family friends with the hope that they will reconnect with their parents later on but are now denied for “no compelling reasons” to grant them visas to join their mothers.
Countries Worst Hit By The Children Migrant Visa Denial
According to the investigation, the countries most affected by this are Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and India.
According to the report by the Observer, affected workers had sought for clarity on this long before coming to the UK and were assured by their employers that all is well but are now left at the mercy of these denials hence shattering the hearts of many of them.
How The Home Office Responds to the Applications
According to the refusal letters seen by the Observer, the Home Office questioned why the children could not stay permanently with their grandparents or other relatives. In other cases, it said there was no reason why they could not go to live with their fathers, even though their mothers had sole custody or the fathers had not seen the children for years. Many of the letters, addressed directly to the children, conclude:
“It was your mother’s personal decision to depart for the UK and you have not provided sufficient evidence to grant your visa on serious or compelling grounds.”
Why The Government is Restricting Dependants of Migrants into the UK
The new plan by the UK government has been unclear on certain grounds since the announcement which will come into effect in the Spring of 2024 and care workers are expected to earn £29,000 a year, rising to £38,700 in 2025, to be permitted to bring their dependants into the country.
While this new rule has been announced, some applications are already noted to have been refused and such was reported by the Observer investigation which revealed 10 cases and about 140 more are expected. In these cases, migrant women who are all single mothers are reported to have had their children’s visas denied within the past one and half year.
It would interest you to know that these rejections are not based on their genuineness rather they have been refused under a Home Office rule that a child may only be given a visa if both parents are living in the UK, unless the parent living here has “sole responsibility”.
What the Home Office Policy Means on Visas to Children of Single Mothers/Parents
According to The Guardian UK, the policy means single parents are required to prove not only that they have sole custody but that the other parent is not involved in their child’s upbringing – something experts say can be hard to do.
If the sole responsibility threshold is not met, the Home Office can still grant applications if it believes there are compelling or compassionate grounds.
Reports From Parents Who Have Their Children’s Visas Denied By The Home Office
Getty from Zambia 🇿🇲
A care worker from Zambia named Getty who had a visa for her six-year-old daughter denied said her daughter’s father had left her since she was pregnant which had made her sole caregiver. “My daughter asks me every day when her papers are going to be ready. I have to be honest with her and tell her: ‘I’m still waiting.’ She is only used to living with me. It’s really, really hard,” she said.
According to Getty, all necessary documents were submitted since she arrived in the UK in March 2023 to apply for her child’s visa but the Home Office refused her the visa.
In another case, an NHS nurse who provided the Home Office with a court document proving she had sole custody for her two daughters, aged four and 13, was told there were no “serious or compelling reasons” why the girls needed to join her. “It’s heartbreaking. How can I sleep at night?” she said. “I am the mother of the children and I have always looked after them.”
In November 2023, a Kenyan expert in world literature at Bristol University was refused a visa for her six-year-old daughter. The decision was later reversed. In 2019, two other similar cases were also reversed.
The Home Office Comment on the Policy
The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases. It said: “The sole responsibility rule is a long-term government policy and all visa applications are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with immigration rules.”