Bringing your elderly parent to live with you in the UK

While the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ holds true for some situations, it definitely doesn’t apply when you’re living far away from a frail or ill elderly parent.

Being in a different country to your elderly parent when they need you most can make your stress levels rise to heights they’ve never reached before, leave you struggling through a crisis of concern and make you feel incredibly guilty for not being around to fulfil your family responsibilities when you feel you should be.

When you emigrated to the UK your parents may well have been in good health, wished you well on your adventure and happily waved you goodbye at the airport. Sadly, nothing stays the same forever and circumstances change. Giving up everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve in your new life to move back home and care for an ailing parent may not be something you’re willing or able to do. That’s understandable and not something you should feel bad about either.

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Read through this article to explore the possibilities of acquiring a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa for your parent and to get a general understanding of what complications you may come across during the application process. You’ll also get an insight into the pros and cons of bringing your parent to live with you in the UK plus find out about some alternative options you may want to consider.

Note: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.

Is bringing your parent to the UK the right decision?

Before you begin the complex process of applying for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa for your parent, stop and think. The consequences of moving your parent from their home country will affect both you and them in many ways so it’s something you all need to be fully prepared for.

Some of the things you’ll need to ask yourself are:

  • Does your elderly parent truly want to be uprooted from their home to live their latter years in a country they may have only briefly visited before and where they know very few people other than yourself?
  • Can you provide them with a home environment that will afford them some privacy and independence should they want it?
  • Is your home elderly friendly?
  • Will they need a carer if you’re working full time?
  • Can you or they afford to pay for a professional carer should they need one?
  • Do you have the financial resources available to cope with having an extra non-earning person in your home?
  • How will having another person, and one that may have demanding care requirements, affect the equilibrium of your current homelife and the other members of your household?
  • Does your parent have a good enough command of the English language to be able to communicate and make new friends or establish a social life for themselves?

What is the UK dependent visa application process?

You, as the relative living in the UK, must have your immigration status in order before a dependent adult visa can be applied for. You should have:

  • Indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • Have obtained settled or pre-settled status
  • Be able to provide proof of permanent residency
  • Proof of permission to stay as a refugee
  • British or Irish citizenship

Note: A UK Adult Dependent Relative visa for an elderly parent cannot generally be applied for in the UK. It should be applied for in your parent’s country of residence.

To be eligible to be considered for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa your parent will need to fulfil certain criteria. Those criteria include:

  • Proving that illness, old age or disability means they require assistance for everyday tasks
  • Demonstrating that the care they require is not available or affordable in their own country
  • Proving that you, the family member they will live with, can provide the care and accommodation they need

Whether your parent is in the UK or in their home country, applications for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa can only be initiated online. The applicant will generally need to provide all of the documentation requested during the application process for the application to be accepted.

The documentation required will generally include:

  • A valid passport or other travel document
  • A photocopy of the photo page as well as any entry stamps or previous visas
  • A negative tuberculosis test – depending on your parent’s country of origin
  • Information about any past criminal offences
  • Medical evidence

And you as the relative may need to provide:

  • A sponsorship form
  • Proof of sufficient finances to support your parent

Common problems with a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa application

Applying for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa can seem as if you’re wandering blindfolded through a never-ending maze of British bureaucracy. Knowing about some of the main pitfalls that applicants encounter before starting the process will help you and your elderly relative avoid them.

Usman Sheikh, a solicitor and the founder of Ansar, an immigration law firm in London, explains, “More and more people are asking for help with the UK Adult Dependent Relative visa. When people initially move to the UK, perhaps due to work or marriage, they can usually only sponsor immediate family members. Later, when they start thinking about sponsoring their elderly parents, the UK Adult Dependent Relative visa is their main option. It is a difficult visa to obtain, with challenging requirements. However, with careful preparation and early planning, success is possible.”

Here are some things you should keep in mind and try to avoid:

Not being prepared for the complexity of the application process – Your parent may find the visa application process overwhelming if they need to go through it alone. If you or a responsible family member are unable to assist them then the best thing to do is to hire a reputable immigration lawyer who knows their way around the intricacies of the British immigration system.

Not realising how long it may take to obtain a visa – Getting a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa is not something that happens overnight. The processing of a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa can take anywhere up to twenty-four weeks – or more sometimes. That’s six months which can turn out to be very frustrating if you’re in a hurry to be reunited with your elderly parent. The UK government doesn’t generally give any leeway timewise for applicants who are seriously ill or in need of care so make sure you apply as early as possible.

Not having the right documents prepared – Not having the right documents and their corresponding authorised translations can delay the visa application process. Your parent’s passport must also be valid for the duration of the visa they are applying for and have a page free of any other previous travel stamp or visas.

Not being ready for the cost a UK dependent adult visa may incur – You will also need to be prepared to pay the Government fees – normally £3,250. In certain circumstances you may be able to apply for a visa free of charge. You can find out about eligibility for visa fee waivers on

Not preparing your parent for a visit to a VPC – Your parent will need to attend an appointment at a Visa Processing Centre. They will be expected to present their passport or other accepted document to prove their identity. They may also need to answer questions, though this is rare.

Special concessions

There are some special concessions for dependent adults if they are a family member of someone from a country within the European Union, are from Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein. The relative of the visa applicant is required to fulfil certain criteria including having been living in the UK since before December 2020.

Note: Eligibility for this type of visa application is complex and should be done with the professional assistance from a qualified immigration lawyer.

Alternative solutions to consider

It’s always good to have a back-up plan to hand should your parent decide they don’t want to move to the UK or their application is turned down and they’re denied entry to the country. Here are a few ideas you may find useful, but ultimately what you decide to do will depend on your parent’s health and your personal circumstances.

Remote monitoring – There’s a surplus of new technology available on the market that allows you to keep an eye on an elderly relative and make sure they stay as safe as possible in their home. With minimum fuss you can have a remote monitoring system installed in your parent’s home that via smart technology will let you know:

  • When your parent wakes up and gets out of their bed
  • If they leave the house
  • If they’re in the kitchen preparing food
  • If they’ve fallen over

While you may want to install cameras so you can see your parent going about their daily routine they might not like the idea. That’s not the end of the world as this type of remote monitoring can be done efficiently by strategically located smart technology sensors. You will need to organise to have someone reliable and readily available to pop round and see them should an alarm sound though.

Taking dependent or compassionate leave from your job – In certain circumstances you may be able to take time off from your job to visit your parent if an emergency occurs. For example, if their regular carer can no longer look after them and you need to organise a replacement or care for them yourself or if they’ve been taken ill unexpectedly. How long you can take and whether you will be paid for taking dependent leave depends on the policies of the company you work for.

In summary

Applying for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. If you’re one hundred percent convinced that your parent will be better off with you in the UK rather than in their home country, it’s a good idea to employ the services of a professional immigration lawyer. It’ll save you time, money and an awful lot of stress in the long run.

Common questions

  • Can I bring my parent to the UK on an Adult Dependent Relative visa?

You may be able to bring your parent or parents to the UK on an Adult Dependent Relative visa if you and they fulfil the required criteria.

  • Can I bring my parent to the UK if I have a Skilled Worker visa?

This is not generally possible. You should take immigration advice from a qualified immigration lawyer if you ned to explore this further.

  • Does my parent need to speak English for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa?

No. Applicants for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa are not obliged to speak English.

  • How long does it take for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa to be processed?

An application for a UK Adult Dependent Relative visa can take anywhere up to twenty-four weeks or more to be processed.

  • What can I do if my parent’s visa application is refused?

Your parent may have the right to appeal against the decision. To appeal they will need to present their case to the First Tier Tribunal. It’s recommended to hire an immigration lawyer to help you with this procedure.


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