Skip to main content

Families kept apart by ‘needlessly’ harsh visa rules, peers say

THE government’s family visa rules are so harsh that they “effectively ban” elderly parents in need of care from joining their loved ones in Britain, peers have found. 

In a report published today, the House of Lords justice and home affairs committee says that “unjustified and needlessly restrictive” migration rules are forcing families to live apart. 

It is “virtually impossible” for British citizens to bring an elderly parent in need of care to this country, the report says, with no-one being allowed to come to Britain under the adult dependent relative visa for the last two years. 

Immigration rules require applicants to prove that they require long-term personal care that they are unable to obtain in their home country. 

Describing these rules as “extreme,” committee chairwoman Baroness Hamwee said: “It is virtually impossible to be joined by an elderly parent who needs care. 

“No visa was issued to anyone in that situation in 2021. Tight but fair immigration rules should allow families to live together.”

The report, which follows the committee’s inquiry into family migration, described the evidence required to apply for family visas as excessively complex.

It also criticises the minimum income requirement that someone must meet to bring their partner or spouse to Britain. Ms Hamwee branded this requirement “fundamentally flawed” and said that it should be made more flexible.

In the meantime, lone parents in this country are forced to bring up their children without the aid of their partner, the report said. 

Child refugees who have the right to bring their families to Britain are also being let down, peers said. 

Baroness Hamwee continued: “These restrictive rules and deficiencies affect British citizens, refugees and permanent residents alike. 

“We believe that it is in the best interests of a child living in this country to be surrounded by their family and to remain here.

“The scandal around the children placed in asylum hotels and going missing from them points up the importance of looking at immigration from the child’s point of view.

“Home Office processes must improve considerably and standards of service [be] substantially raised, without applicants [being] left in the dark as to what is happening.”

Safe Passage International CEO Beth Gardiner-Smith said: “This report confirms how broken the current system is for refugees wishing to reunite with family. The unaccompanied refugee children we work with face many months of delays, stranded alone in camps and shelters, and then terrible decisions which totally ignore the vulnerable situations they are currently in. This is incredibly distressing and means sadly many children end up losing faith in the process and instead risk a dangerous journey to reach their family here.

“We urgently need the government to widen the family reunion rules and make the process easier, quicker and cheaper, as recommended by the Lords committee. Families belong together and loved ones torn apart by war and persecution shouldn’t have to risk their lives to reunite.”



We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.



Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 6,572
We need:£ 11,428
17 Days remaining
Donate today