As I'm currently going through this process I thought it would be useful to give some thing back to the community and collate the information currently required. I realise this has been done before, however the information is currently a few years out of date and I believe Sole responsibility is now more of an issue than back in 2005. I hope no one minds me pulling comments and links from other threads, if so please let me know.
It is worth pointing out I am by no means an expert on UK visas, far from it. I do not have a legal back round, likewise I do not work for any embassy or government department. I am Joe Public collating information which I have largely sourced through searching these forums and the internet and UK visas websites. I hope its useful to someone. I found the building a spouse settlement visa guide invaluable a few years ago.
The information posted below is correct to the best of my knowledge at the time it was posted in February 2009. Please be aware visa forms and legal requirements do change. Moderators please feel free to update the post as you see fit.
Any corrections please let me know.
I'm guessing most people will be in the same boat as me having already gone through the settlement visa process for their partner however since that time (early 2006) in my case a few things have changed visa wise and with a child settlement visa there are a few extras to consider.
Largely the application is the same as a marriage settlement visa. You currently need the VAF4 form to apply (link below) and you need to prove the usual settlement visa requirements.
-Key documents (Passports, birth certificates etc.)
-Proof of financial support (Payslips for at least 3 months, Bank statements for at least 3 months)
-Proof of accommodation
-Evidence of contact
I'll expand on this further in the evidence folder section and also check below the general requirements.
Further to this for a child settlement visa you will need to prove two additional key points
- Sole custody
- Sole responsibility
Sole custody is basically proof that you or your partner have the legal right to bring the child to the UK.
Sole responsibility is somewhat more tricky in that you will need to prove that your partner has maintained "sole responsibility" over the direction of the child's life at all times.
Both of these points are covered in more detail below.
I personally found the VAF4 application form a bit confusing. While obvious for a marriage visa I didn't find it clear as to who the sponsor should be for the child. Eg myself as the major earner in the family or my wife as the child's mother. I think the answer for now is basically either although it may be better if your partner doesn't earn to put the main bread winner for the family.
Technically I believe the sponsor should be the mother but the embassy are aware the forms are unclear so will accept either. Who ever sponsors the application it is important to put a letter of support from the other partner and to include bank statements and payslips from both of you. (forum members have had success with both approaches)
The other thing to be aware of is that this is going to take some time, I estimated researching and compiling the application took me roughly in the region of 60 hours. Your not going to get it done in an evening. :-)
Just a couple of general points that maybe worth noting.
The TB test is not required for children under the age of 11, so some expense and hassle saved if your child happens to be under 11
Translations are no longer required for Thai documents, again some hassle and expense saved.
Biometric data is required - So the child does need to be present when the application is submitted so he/she can have her fingers printed and eyes scanned.
The application price in pounds is currently £515, I believe the Thai Baht price moves with the exchange rate at times but is currently 26500 Baht.
Our application took 1 week to process, we submitted the application on Friday morning and were called the following Friday to be told to go and pick everything up. This was Feb 2009.
UK visas will no longer tell you the outcome of your application over the phone, you have to go and pick your documents and the child's passport up to find out the outcome of the application.
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- Completed VAF 4
- One recent passport-sized photographs (Please view the @Photo Specs’ for exact specifications) Please note- unsuitable photos will only delay your application
- Current valid passport (showing current Thai immigration status) with a blank page to insert visa
- Full copy of parent(s) passport as evidence that he/she is settled in the UK including biodata & current immigration status pages
- Sponsorship letter from parent(s) confirming support of application
- Full explanation of who has had responsibility of applicant’s day-to-day welfare since birth. Please ensure this is explicit and chronological. Please explain, where applicable, why your parent(s) did not exercise day-to-day of your welfare including the role of your natural father/mother in your life
- Evidence of intervening relationship between applicant and parent(s) – full evidence of communication & full evidence of money transfers
- Confirmation of sole custody and responsibility. This could be obtained from either the local district (Amphur)/ memorandum of the divorce/ court order)
- Proof of support and accommodation with description of said accommodation. A copy of sponsor’s last six months’ bank statements Full details of the accommodation available i.e. number of rooms and their intended use – a report from the local Council or mortgage company. Also full details of all those persons who will be occupying the accommodation including details of their ages and sex.
- A certificate issued by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) confirming that the applicant is free from infectious tuberculosis (TB) Applies to all applicants aged 11 years and over
- All previous passports
- Visa fee
- Any other documents in support of your application
So moving on to the key part of the application your evidence folder. I prepared mine in very much the "forum way" as suggested by others here. Basically you take two A4 folders and a load of plastic document holders (punched pockets) and make the documents you are submitting as easy to view and find as possible. The theory being the easier the application is to handle the greater your chance of success.
I would suggest preparing a proper contents page for the whole folder so the ECO can easily find what they are looking for and grouping each set of documents into a plastic document holder of there own. Then label the top right of the plastic wallet with an index number and description. So in my folder I put all my payslips together in a plastic wallet labelled "3.3 sponsors husbands payslips"
The second folder should be identical to the first but contain photo copies of all the documents, again to make life easier for the ECO.
The below is my contents page or how I laid out our application, it may not suit everyone but is probably a good starting point. Also be aware my wife sponsored the application for her son so you may need to switch some headings about if the child's parent isn't the sponsor.
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UK Settlement Visa Application
Applicant: Child's name
Sponsor: Mothers name
Further Support from: My name (Step Father)
Covering letter/application overview
Completed VAF4 settlement visa application form and applicants passport photo
Section 1 – Applicants Key documents
- Applicants Passport
- Applicants birth certificate
Section 2 – Sponsors Key Documents
- Sponsors passport
- Sponsors birth certificate
- Sole custody document (Por khor 14)
- Sponsors husbands passport (signed copy)
Section 3 – Financial Support
- Sponsors bank statements (6 months)
- Sponsors pay slips (6 months)
- Sponsors husbands bank statements (6 months)
- Sponsors husbands payslips (6 months)
Section 4 – Accommodation
- Rental Agreement
- Photos of accommodation
Section 5 – Evidence of Contact and Financial Support
- Money transfers and bank statements
- Telephone records
Section 6 – Supporting Documents
- Letter of support from sponsors husband
- Letter of support and details of applicants current arrangements for care from current guardian
- Copy of application form for applicants schooling in the UK
- Letter from Thai English Tutor
- Letter from current school
A few notes.
Obviously the covering letter needs to be as good as possible and fill in all the gaps as your documents alone don't paint a full picture for the ECO. Make sure as per the general requirements point 6 that you cover a "Full explanation of who has had responsibility of applicant’s day-to-day welfare since birth."
If the parent has been separated from the child it is important to explain why and cover this in the letter. For example who may want to state you wanted to ensure a stable environment and success of your relationship before uprooting a child from school to join you in the UK, or possibly state financial reasons, whatever is true in your particular case. Also point out if monies have been transferred to a guardian that they have been spent on the child and also any steps you may have taken to prepare for the child moving to the UK. For example in our case a place confirmed for the child at a local school and private English tutoring for the lad in Thailand over the pass few months. Anything that shows willing is going to help.
Key documents are pretty straight forward, make sure you have the por khor 14 (sole custody document covered in further detail below) and fulfil the rest of the general requirements and this should be OK. Remember Thai documents no longer need translations supplied
Financial documents again are quite easy. The embassy ask for a minimum of 3 months we supplied 6 to be on the safe side you could supply more, the same with payslips. Remember to supply these documents for both yourself and partner no matter who is the sponsor, the better your combined financial support the better your chances.
Likewise proof of accommodation shouldn't be difficult, mortgage statements or rental agreements and receipts and a set of photos showing the accommodation should cover this.
Proving that you have financially supported the child is one to be mindful of. As per usual Western union money transfers, bank transfers UK bank statements (if you happen to have opened an account here and sent the card back to Thailand) are all reasonable kinds of proof. However as it is likely this money is being sent to a guardian not the child it is important that you explain how the money you send gets to the child and what it is spent on (school fees, food, health care being good examples)
Your partner may well send £200 a month to support the child, however if the current guardian happens to state in interview she/he uses the money to pay the mortgage on the Thai family home, technically you are not supporting the child.
Also if you have paid lump sums or have any gaps in support explain these with proof where you can. For example, my wife sends money over with friends when they travel to save on the exchange rate.
Proof of contact maybe easy or slightly harder depending on your case. Letters, phone calls, MSN chat logs, photos etc., are all proof of contact and acceptable. If you use a phonecard for your calls submit the cards and a letter explaining this. Likewise if you are dialing a cheap rate access number submit your phonebills highlighting the number and again explain this to the ECO.
Finally supporting documents, your chance to add weight to your application and if at all possible try and prove sole responsibility.
Any thing you can do to show easing the child's move from Thailand to the UK here is good. A letter from the Thai school stating they are happy to release the child to education in the UK is good.
Likewise a confirmed place in a UK school for when the child arrives will help alot. This is not as difficult as it sounds, you just need to phone your local council and they will sort you out quickly and easily.
We included a letter from the lads current guardian, to cover off how monies transferred to her were being spent on the child and how my wife took the key decisions in the child's life. Also a letter from a private English tutor we hired in Thailand to help the lad learn English outside school. I struggled to think of much more I could add here to prove sole responsibility or add to the application, you maybe able to think of more.
Lastly don't forget the photos, a good section of the child yourself and partner over as long a time as possible should be adequate.
On to the two key requirements for a child visa. Sole custody is as it sounds the legal rights over the child. This would normally be split between the two parents. However as one parent is requesting to move the child out of its birth country you need to prove "sole custody" over the child to do this. This isn't actually as difficult as it sounds providing your situation isn't too complex.
Basically proof of sole custody in Thailand is a por khor 14 document, this is obtained from the Amphur. If the other parent is deceased it can be obtained with their death certificate. If the parents' marriage/civil partnership has been dissolved, one of the parents must have been awarded legal custody, so you may already have the por khor 14. If the other parent is still alive it may be more tricky. If they have never supported the child the por khor 14 can be obtained by village elders/responsible official persons attesting to the fact the remaining parent has bought the child up alone. If this is not possible the other parent may (I believe) be required to sign away their custody rights, I'm no expert in this area so please research this yourself if this is your situation.
You will also need a por khor 14 to apply for the childs passport if both parents are not present at the time of application.
Sole responsibility is the real pain in the application. I believe researching back a few years that if you could prove the usual settlement visa requirements and sole custody your application was pretty much there. However now a days the ECOs are putting more emphasis on sole responsibility and applications are being declined due to it.
Basically you need to try and prove not only that you/your partner has financially supported the child but that key decisions affecting the child's life have also been taken by your partner.
The following factors should be considered in assessing sole responsibility:
Does the marriage / civil partnership subsist, but the parents do not live together?
Are the parents married / in a civil partnership?
If the parent migrated to the UK:
How long has the parent been separated from the child ?
What were the arrangements for the care of the child before and after the parent migrated ?
What has been/what is the parent's relationship with the child?
By whom, and in what proportions, is the cost of the child's maintenance borne?
Who takes the important decisions about the child's upbringing, for example where the child lives, the choice of school, religious practice etc?
I found this quite difficult to prove. Although my wife and I solely financially support the child and my wife does choose the child's schooling and health care etc., it is very difficult to prove on paper.
The only way I could think around this was a written statement from the child's current guardian (Grandmother) stating the situation clearly that my wife takes the main decisions in the child's life and supports him completely financially. We backed this up with a letter from his private English tutor stating she had been instructed by my wife to teach the little lad.
Further than this I didn't know what else we could prove? Other members may have more creative ideas.
Sole custody becomes more of a problem the more complicated your situation is. For example
If your partner has been in the UK for one year, has sent money and contacted the child regularly, now wants to bring the child to the UK and the child has been supported by yours partners family in Thailand. You have a good case for sole responsibility.
However if your partner has been in the UK for 7 years, still sending money and keeping regular contact but the child has been raised by the other parent or other parents family you are going to have an extremely difficult job proving your partner has maintained sole responsibility over the child in the 7 years your partner has been here.
A tricky area worth giving some thought.
When your child gets here
Although if your partner is still living here on a visa thus has "no recourse to public funds" this does not stop you as a UK Citizen claiming Child benefit for a child living in your home, so get the application forms ready to apply when the child arrives (you can't apply before they get here). Likewise you maybe able to claim working tax credits its worth having a look.
Well finally got there, this started as a nice idea for the forum, turned into one of those nightmare jobs you never think you will finish and has ended up like war and peace!
I hope the information helps a few people. Its good to attempt to give something back to a community that has without doubt helped me considerably over the past 3 years.
If you are applying for a childs visa - The very best of luck to you
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Last edited by Vinny; 7th Mar 2014 at 01:37.