20 August

The adult dependant relative visa is a visa that enables relatives such as parents or grandparents to come to the UK to live with their British or settled relative on a permanent basis. Under older rules the basic criterion was that the dependant relative was financially dependent on the British/settled relative, and applications could be made from either within the UK or outside the UK.

The whole scheme was changed in July 2012 (along with a lot of other changes to family visa routes) and the criteria are now quite different. The criteria now are that the applicant must have significant health problems, that they are unable to obtain the care that they require in their home country and that there is nobody in their home country such as a friend or relative who can provide such care. And now it is only possible to apply from outside the UK, not from within the UK.

This of course constituted a very significant tightening up for this visa route, and statistics show a sharp reduction in the number of applications. In 2014 only about 70 of these visas were granted.

A charitable organisation called BritCits, which believes that the rule is draconian, unfair and illegal challenged the rule in the High Court. The case was unsuccessful but the High Court judge, Mr Justice Mitting, gave permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

In the Court of Appeal BritCits will be arguing – as they did in the High Court –  that the rule offends several legal principles, including that of family life under human rights law. They may have a mountain to climb not least because – as Mr Justice Mitting acknowledged – the rule has been approved by the Westminster Parliament and thus has the imprimatur of democracy and the Home Secretary has a wide latitude in creating the immigration rules. But we shall see.

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