The adult dependent relative (ADR) route provides qualifying applicants with the opportunity to live in the UK with a close relative on a long-term or even permanent basis. ADR visas, however, are generally only granted in limited circumstances.
The following guide sets out the rules relating to this category of visa, from who is eligible and how to apply, to what steps can be taken if an application is refused and how to maximise the prospects of a successful outcome.
What is the adult dependent relative visa?
The purpose of the ADR route is to allow an individual with ongoing care needs to live with a close relative in the UK, provided the applicant can show, as a result of either age, illness or disability, that they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be reasonably and adequately provided in the UK by their sponsor.
If the applicant meets the strict requirements for entry clearance as an adult dependent relative of either a British citizen or someone otherwise present and settled in the UK, they will be granted indefinite leave to enter. This means they can stay in the UK indefinitely.
For those applicants whose sponsor is not yet settled or a British citizen, and who instead has limited leave to remain under an eligible sponsorship category, the applicant will be granted limited leave of a duration that will expire at the same time as the sponsor’s limited leave. This will, however, be subject to a condition of no recourse to public funds. Once their sponsor has applied for indefinite leave, the holder of an ADR visa will be able to apply in line with this.
If an adult dependant relative is applying for entry clearance under the ADR route they must be outside the UK, where a person cannot switch into this route in the UK. However, once leave has been granted, an ADR visa holder, where their initial leave is not indefinite, can then apply for indefinite leave to remain.
The policy intention behind the restrictive ADR rules is to reduce the burden on UK taxpayers for the provision of NHS and local authority social care services to applicants whose long-term care needs can both reasonably and adequately be met in their home country.
However, the rules are also intended to ensure that those ADRs whose needs can only be met by a relative in the UK are granted immediate settled status, provided their sponsor is a British citizen or also has settled status. The grant of settled status will then mean full access to the NHS and local authority services. In this way, the rules are designed to avoid creating a disparity between applicants depending on the wealth of their sponsor (as was previously the case), and to give qualifying applicants certainty about their long-term status in the UK, regardless of any changes in their sponsor’s financial circumstances once they are settled.
Who qualifies as an adult dependent relative?
Since March 2023, the ADR route follows Appendix Adult Dependent Relative, replacing existing provisions for adult dependent relatives in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.
For UK immigration purposes, an adult dependent relative of a UK sponsor is as an applicant who is:
- A parent aged 18 years or over
- A grandparent
- A brother or sister aged 18 years or over, or
- A son or daughter aged 18 years or over.
At the time of the application, the UK sponsor must also be aged 18 years or over, and be:
- A British (or Irish) citizen in the UK
- Someone who is present and settled in the UK
- Someone in the UK with either refugee leave or humanitarian protection, or an EEA national with limited leave to remain under Appendix EU
ADR visa requirements
To qualify under the ADR route, an applicant must meet the various requirements as an adult dependent relative. In addition to satisfying the requisite relationship requirement, if the applicant is either the sponsor’s parent/grandparent they must not be in a subsisting relationship with a partner unless that person is also the sponsor’s parent or grandparent and is applying for entry clearance at the same time as the applicant. They must also satisfy the following criteria:
- The applicant or if the applicant and their partner are the sponsor’s parents or grandparents, the applicant’s partner — must as a result of age, illness or disability require long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks. This means they must be incapable of performing things like washing, dressing and cooking for themselves.
- The applicant or if the applicant and their partner are the sponsor’s parents or grandparents, the applicant’s partner — must, even with the practical and financial help of the sponsor, be unable to get the required level of care in the country where they’re living, either because it’s not available and there is no person in that country who can reasonably provide it, or it is not affordable.
- The applicant will be adequately maintained, accommodated and cared for in the UK by the sponsor without recourse to public funds.
- The applicant must also not fall for refusal under any of the suitability grounds. These include where the applicant’s presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good, for example, because of the applicant’s conduct, character, associations or other reasons that make it undesirable to grant them entry clearance, including where they have been convicted of a serious criminal offence.
Following guidance issued in March 2023, if an applicant for settlement under the ADR route fails on criminality grounds, but their removal would result in a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the applicant will be required to complete a longer qualifying period. The rules for deportation were also re-aligned to the Article 8 threshold, removing inconsistencies and reflecting recent case law.
Appendix Adult Dependant Relative was updated in July to reinstate the previous position under Appendix FM, whereby when one parent or grandparent has care needs that meet the rules, their partner will also qualify with them, regardless of their own health status.
How to apply for an ADR visa
An application for an ADR visa will need to be made online, completing the form together with Appendix 1 VAF4A.
Prior to applying, the applicant will need to prepare the necessary information and documents in support including, in relevant cases, their sponsor’s written undertaking that they will be responsible for the applicant’s maintenance, accommodation and care for at least 5 years without relying on public funds.
The evidence to be provided in order to meet the requirements includes:
- Evidence of the family relationship between the UK sponsor and the applicant;
- Evidence that the applicant requires long-term personal care as a result of age, illness or disability. This should take the form of independent medical evidence from a doctor or other health professional supporting the proposition that the applicant’s physical or mental condition means that they cannot perform everyday tasks;
- Evidence that the applicant, even with the practical and financial help of the sponsor in the UK, is unable to obtain the required level of care in the country where they are living. This should be from either a central or local health authority, a local authority, or a doctor or other health professional. If a private arrangement has been in place, an applicant will be expected to explain why that can no longer continue and, if no longer affordable, both an explanation and evidence as to why not. If financial support has previously been provided by the sponsor or any other close family member in the UK, an explanation will need to be provided as to why this cannot continue or is no longer sufficient for the required level of care to be provided.
- Evidence of adequate maintenance, accommodation and the required level of care in the UK from the sponsor. In addition, where the sponsor is a British citizen or settled in the UK, the applicant will need to provide a signed undertaking from the sponsor confirming that they will be responsible for the applicant’s maintenance, accommodation and care for a period of 5 years without recourse to public funds.
What if your application for an ADR visa is refused?
Unfortunately, refusals are not uncommon. Given the restrictive nature of the ADR rules, only a small proportion of applications are successful, at least on first consideration. In particular, if a sponsor can afford to maintain and accommodate their dependent relative for 5 years in the UK, the applicant will then often find it hard to demonstrate that this funding cannot be used to provide the required level of care in the applicant’s country of origin.
Further, in line with the Home Office guidance, an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) must consider a wide range of people in the country where the applicant is living who can reasonably provide the required level of care, paid or otherwise. This might be a close family member or any other person who can provide care, such as a wider family member, friend or neighbour, as well as a housekeeper, home-help, a nurse, carer or care or nursing home. If the required level of care is either available or affordable, the application will usually be refused.
If an application is refused, there may be grounds on which this can be challenged, either by way of a review or appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against the refusal of such application. However, it’s always best to seek expert legal advice prior to submitting an application for an ADR visa. In this way, pre-emptive steps can be taken to explore all possible grounds for a refusal, and to provide an explanation and evidence in support.
Ultimately, the focus of the rules is on whether the care required by the ADR applicant can be both “reasonably” provided to “the required level” in their home country. Essentially, this means that the provision of such care must be reasonable both from the perspective of the provider as well as the perspective of the applicant. Further, the standard of such care must be what is required for that particular applicant. By putting forward a clear argument from the outset as to what care is both necessary and reasonable, possibly even including emotional and psychological requirements if supported by medical evidence, the applicant will stand a much better chance of success.
There may also be cases, even where the substantive ADR visa rules are not met, where there are “exceptional circumstances”. In these cases, the ECO will need to consider whether Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is engaged (the right to respect for private and family life), and whether a refusal would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences.
Your legal advisor can discuss all potential arguments and options available to you as an adult dependent relative, or as an ADR sponsor looking to bring a relative in need of care over to the UK. They can also help you to plan and prepare your application, providing the right information and documentation in support to maximise the chances of a successful outcome.
DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. If you require assistance with an adult dependent visa application, including guidance on the eligibility criteria and supporting documentation, contact us.
Adult dependent visa FAQs
What does adult dependant relative mean?
An adult dependent relative is the parent, grandparent, adult sibling or child of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK who, as a result of age, illness or disability requires a level of long-term personal care.
Can I bring my brother to UK permanently?
An adult sibling can settle in the UK under an adult dependent relative visa, provided you are either a British citizen, settled in the UK or have limited leave under a qualifying route, and your sibling requires long-term care.
How can an adult get dependent visa?
An applicant aged over 18 can apply for an adult dependent visa online, provided they are outside the UK and satisfy the eligibility criteria, including the relationship and financial requirements.
Last updated: 20 July 2023