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Work Visa: Applying for a dependent child  

There is frequent discussion surrounding the requirements for a spouse or unmarried partner applying as the dependant of a UK visa holder, however what receives less attention are the requirements for a dependent child, which in some cases can fall subject to a higher level of scrutiny from the Home Office.

We explain the important definitions and criteria for child dependants in the following work visa categories, including:

  • Skilled Worker and its predecessor Tier 2 (General)
  • Global Business Mobility Senior/Specialist Worker, and its predecessor Intra-Company Transfer and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)
  • Global Business Mobility Graduate Trainee and its predecessor Intra-Company Graduate Trainee
  • Global Business Mobility UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier, and Secondment Worker
  • T2 Minister of Religion and its predecessor Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
  • International Sportsperson and its predecessor T2 Sportsperson and Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • UK Ancestry
  • Global Talent and its predecessor Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • High Potential Individual
  • Innovator and Start-up
  • Other temporary work routes

Dependent child requirements

A child under the age of 18 years old on the date their initial dependent child visa application is submitted will be viewed as a child dependant by the Home Office. Children aged 18 or above are not eligible to apply as dependent children in their initial application for entry or permission to stay as a dependent child of their sponsor parent.

The Home Office must consider any exceptional, compelling, and compassionate circumstances presented by a child dependant applicant aged 18 or over, but this is at their discretion and will be considered outside of the Immigration Rules.

If the lead applicant on a work route has a child (under 18) from a previous relationship, this child can only be included as a dependant if the lead applicant has been awarded sole legal responsibility for the child or the lead applicant and his or her dependent partner have joint legal responsibility for the child.

If these criteria are not met and a dependent child from a previous relationship is included on an application, the Home Office is obliged to consider any serious and compelling reasons outside the scope of the Immigration Rules which warrant the child being granted with a dependant visa.

These considerations can include for example; the best interests of the child, who the child normally lives with, whether the child’s other biological parent has given consent to be included on the application.

Child dependants’ definition

Included in the Immigration Rules’ definition of ‘parents’ are; step-fathers (where the biological father is dead), step-mothers (where the biological mother is dead), fathers of illegitimate children where paternity is proven, adoptive parents, de facto adoptive parents, and those who have been transferred parental responsibility due to biological parents’ inability to care for the child in question.

Circumstances regularly arise where child dependants are initially granted with leave to enter/remain on a work route, and when it comes time to apply for further leave to remain in the UK, they are no longer under the age of 18.

These children remain eligible to apply for further permission to stay in the UK so long as their most recent permission was as the dependant of their sponsor parent and they are not leading an independent life. Additionally, dependent children aged 16 or over on the date of application must also evidence with their application that they are not leading an independent life separate to their sponsor parent.

A dependent child will be seen to be leading an independent life if they are married/in a civil partnership, they do not live with the lead applicant parent (and are not attending boarding school/college/university), and they are no longer financially dependent on the lead applicant parent.

The Home Office expects adequate evidence of a child (aged 16 or over) leading a life dependent on the lead applicant and are not required to request further evidence if satisfactory documentation is not provided in the first instance.

It is advised to provide the child’s recent bank/building society statements showing funds transferred from the lead applicant parent, recent credit card bills, driving licence with the lead applicant’s address, NHS registration letter, and other relevant documents.


The Home Office must consider any exceptional, compelling, and compassionate circumstances presented by a child dependant applicant aged 18 or over, but this is at their discretion and will be considered outside of the Immigration Rules.

Location of child

If the child is living away at boarding school, college, or university, an official letter from the educational institution must be provided confirming the child’s enrolment, attendance, and where the child lives when not at school, in addition to evidence that the child has been financially supported by the lead applicant parent in the 3 months immediately preceding the date of their application.

Further information

These are the some of the key requirements for a child dependant applicant in a work visa category but do not cover all aspects of this highly detailed and sensitive area of the Immigration Rules. Please get in touch with our UK immigration team with any concerns or queries you may have.

About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

About this article

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