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Changes to the Adult Dependent Relative Visa Rules

On 1 June 2023, the Immigration Rules for the Adult Dependent Relative immigration route were updated. These rules, which were previously under Appendix FM, have now been replaced by Appendix Adult Dependent Relative. In simplified terms, this immigration route allows for an adult Sponsor to bring an adult relative to the United Kingdom. Sponsors must be either British citizens, persons settled in the UK, persons with limited leave to remain in the UK under Appendix EU or persons in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection status. 

In this article we will discuss why the rules for this route have been amended, the material changes made under the new Appendix and how, if at all, these changes might impact new applications for an Adult Dependent Relative visa.

What Prompted the Changes to the Adult Dependent Relative Rules?

The Law Commission published a report entitled “Simplifying the Immigration Rules” on 13 January 2020. The report was released with the recommendation of a complete redrafting of the Immigration Rules to increase legal certainty, transparency and accessibility for all Applicants. In discussion of the Adult Dependent Relative route, they reference a quotation from an immigration law firm which states:

“…the Adult Dependent Relative (ADR) category is now extremely complex and only a few hundred applications are successful per year. This complexity therefore reduces the successful applications under this route. However, it can be said the ADR route is still open, it is simply so complex it may as well be closed.”

On 25 March 2020, the Government published their response to this report. The Home Office stated that they were simplifying the Immigration Rules in the following ways:

  • Reviewing the current Rules for each route;
  • Removing inconsistent, overlapping and redundant provisions;
  • Reviewing cross-cutting themes to clarify and consolidate where possible;
  • Considering the right balance between prescription and discretion; and
  • Drafting new Rules in plain English and putting them into a simplified structure.

Consequently, on 9 March 2023, the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC1160 was introduced by the Government. These amendments included a redrafting of the Adult Dependent Relative rules, with the broad objective of ‘simplification’ in accordance with the Law Commission’s report and the Government’s response to it. It is well worth noting that the purpose of this simplification exercise was not to enact reform, but rather to amend the structure and phrasing of the rules. 

Eligibility Requirements for an Adult Dependent Relative Visa

There have been no changes to the high eligibility threshold for an Adult Dependent Relative visa. Though, the introduction of clearer subheadings and dividers in the new Appendix are undoubtedly clearer than they were in its predecessor.

Evidential Requirements for an Adult Dependent Relative Visa

The new rules have moved the evidential requirements for an Adult Dependent Relative visa, where appropriate, from Appendix FM-SE into the new Appendix. Where the previous financial requirement section did not reference Appendix FM-SE, the new Appendix cites its relevant provisions under the subheading “Financial requirement for an Adult Dependent Relative”. As above, while there is no material change to the financial requirement itself, the new Appendix is markedly clearer than its predecessor.

The new rules do not provide clarity on the definition of ‘adequate maintenance’ or reference within the Appendix itself as to how an Applicant should interpret this requirement. To this end, the definition of adequate maintenance can still be found externally in “Family Migration: Appendix FM and Adult Dependent Relative – Adequate maintenance and accommodation”, published on 01 June 2023.

Adult Dependent Relative Visa Maintenance Undertaking Requirement

The new Adult Dependent Relative rules have clarified the maintenance and accommodation undertaking, now referred to in the Appendix simply as the ‘maintenance undertaking’. The Sponsor is required to sign a maintenance undertaking to ensure that they can maintain, accommodate and care for the Applicant for a period of 5 years from the Applicant’s arrival in the UK, without recourse to public funds. If the leave is under 5 years, then the maintenance undertaking should reflect the length of the Applicant’s permission to stay. The maintenance undertaking is ordinarily required to be signed by the sponsor at the entry clearance, permission to stay and settlement stages.

The rules now specify under Paragraph ADR 6.5. that the UK Government can seek to recover any public funds that the Applicant receives while the maintenance undertaking is active. While this provision was not stated under the previous Appendix FM rules, it was still applicable before 01 June 2023.

Partners of Adult Dependent Relatives

Appendix Adult Dependent Relative has amended the wording of the rules applicable to partners of Adult Dependent Relative Applicants. The previous rules stated that eligibility applied to “The applicant or, if the applicant and their partner are the sponsor’s parents or grandparents, the applicant’s partner.” The phrasing referring to partners has been removed in Appendix Adult Dependent Relative. However, the current Family Policy guidance, as updated on 01 June 2023, has not been amended on this point.

Article 8, Suitability and Settlement

There has been no material change to the rules surrounding Article 8 ECHR under Appendix Adult Dependent Relative. The new rules state plainly under Paragraph ADR 7.1. that where an Applicant does not meet all suitability or eligibility requirements, they might still be eligible under Article 8 ECHR. These circumstances arise where a refusal “would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant or their family” and would therefore breach Article 8. This rule under Paragraph ADR 7.1. must be considered in tandem with Paragraph ADR 7.2., which states that where an Applicant falls for refusal on suitability grounds (under S-EC.1.2 to S-EC.1.5, or S-LTR.1.2 to S-LTR.1.6. of Appendix FM) their application must be refused.

If an Applicant fails certain suitability grounds, such as having unpaid litigation debt, or involvement in a sham marriage, but their refusal would breach Article 8, they may additionally need to complete a longer qualifying period in order to settle. For an in-depth explanation of how Article 8 interacts with Adult Dependent Relative visa applications, see this previous blog post

The Impact of Appendix Adult Dependent Relative

Appendix Adult Dependent Relative marks a step forward in the Government’s ongoing ‘simplification’ exercise. This reviewing process has resulted in the restructuring and rephrasing of the rules, while minimising the number of substantial changes to them. Thus, while it is unlikely that the approach taken by the Home Office in assessing Adult Dependent Relative applications will be affected by these changes, the new Appendix is clearer for Applicants to follow when pursuing this route.

The above quote considers that the complexities of the Adult Dependent Relative visa route have been reducing the number of successful applications made. Unfortunately, while the rules are indeed clearer, it seems unlikely that the success rate of new applications will noticeably improve under the new Appendix Adult Dependent Relative, as the high threshold for eligibility remains the same.

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