Updates to the Adult Dependent Relative Visa Rules
As of 1 June 2023, there have been modifications to the Immigration Rules for the Adult Dependent Relative immigration pathway. Previously under Appendix FM, these rules have now been shifted to Appendix Adult Dependent Relative. In simplified language, this immigration pathway allows an adult Sponsor to bring an adult relative to the UK. Sponsors must either be British citizens, settled persons in the UK, individuals with limited leave to remain in the UK under Appendix EU, or individuals in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection status.
In this article, we will examine why these changes were made to this route’s rules, the substantive alterations made under the new Appendix, and how, if at all, these changes could impact new applications for an Adult Dependent Relative visa.
What Led to the Adult Dependent Relative Rules Changes?
On 13 January 2020, the Law Commission issued a report named “Simplifying the Immigration Rules”. The report suggested a complete rewrite of the Immigration Rules to enhance legal certainty, transparency, and accessibility for all Applicants. They cited a quote from an immigration law firm regarding the Adult Dependent Relative route:
“…the Adult Dependent Relative (ADR) category is now exceedingly complex and only a few hundred applications are successful each year. This complexity thus diminishes the successful applications under this route. However, while the ADR route remains open, it’s so intricate that it could essentially be considered closed.”
On 25 March 2020, the Government responded to this report. The Home Office mentioned that they were simplifying the Immigration Rules in the following manners:
- Re-examining the existing Rules for each route;
- Removing inconsistent, overlapping, and redundant provisions;
- Reviewing cross-cutting themes to clarify and consolidate where feasible;
- Contemplating the right equilibrium between prescription and discretion; and
- Crafting new Rules in straightforward English and arranging them in a simplified structure.
Subsequently, the Government introduced the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC1160 on 9 March 2023. These modifications incorporated a rewrite of the Adult Dependent Relative rules, with the primary goal of ‘simplification’, following the Law Commission’s report and the Government’s response. It’s important to note that this simplification exercise’s objective was not to implement reform but to modify the rules’ structure and language.
Qualification Requirements for an Adult Dependent Relative Visa
The stringent qualification threshold for an Adult Dependent Relative visa has remained unchanged. However, the new Appendix’s introduction of clear subheadings and dividers is undeniably more precise than those in its predecessor.
Evidence Requirements for an Adult Dependent Relative Visa
The new rules have transferred the evidential requirements for an Adult Dependent Relative visa, where relevant, from Appendix FM-SE into the new Appendix. The financial requirement section that didn’t previously reference Appendix FM-SE now cites its pertinent provisions under the subheading “Financial requirement for an Adult Dependent Relative”. While there are no material changes to the financial requirement itself, the new Appendix is significantly clearer than its predecessor.
The new rules do not clarify the definition of ‘adequate maintenance’ or refer within the Appendix itself as to how an Applicant should comprehend this requirement. Hence, 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.
Maintenance Obligation Requirement for an Adult Dependent Relative Visa
The new Adult Dependent Relative rules have clarified the maintenance and accommodation obligation, now simply referred to in the Appendix as the ‘maintenance undertaking’. The Sponsor must sign a maintenance undertaking to ensure 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 must be signed by the sponsor at the entry clearance, permission to stay, and settlement stages.
Under Paragraph ADR 6.5, the rules now specify that the UK Government can aim 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 revised the wording of the rules applicable to partners of Adult Dependent Relative Applicants. The former 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, updated on 01 June 2023, hasn’t been altered on this point.
Article 8, Suitability and Settlement
There has been no significant change to the rules surrounding Article 8 ECHR under Appendix Adult Dependent Relative. The new rules explicitly state under Paragraph ADR 7.1. that where an Applicant does not meet all suitability or eligibility requirements, they may still be eligible under Article 8 ECHR. These circumstances arise when 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 alongside 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 also need to complete a longer qualifying period in order to settle. For a thorough explanation of how Article 8 interacts with Adult Dependent Relative visa applications, see this previous blog post.
The Implications of Appendix Adult Dependent Relative
Appendix Adult Dependent Relative signifies progress in the Government’s ongoing ‘simplification’ exercise. This reviewing process has resulted in the restructuring and rephrasing of the rules while minimizing the number of substantive changes to them. Thus, while it’s 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 aforementioned quote considers that the intricacies of the Adult Dependent Relative visa route have been reducing the number of successful applications made. Unfortunately, while the rules are indeed clearer, it appears unlikely that the success rate of new applications will significantly improve under the new Appendix Adult Dependent Relative, as the high threshold for eligibility remains the same.