The “Seven Years Child” Rule

The “Seven Years Child” Rule

Immigration lawyers are often asked: can a parent get leave to remain in the UK if their child has lived in the UK for seven years or more?

The short answer is “maybe”.

Section 117B(6) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provides that the public interest does not require an adult immigration applicant’s removal where the applicant has a ‘genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a qualifying child’, and it would not be ‘reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK’. Section 117B(6) is often relied upon by immigration applicants who cannot meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules.

In MA (Pakistan) and Others [2016] EWCA Civ 705, the Court of Appeal held that in such cases ‘leave should be granted unless there are powerful reasons to the contrary’.

The current view amongst immigration lawyers is however that MA (Pakistan) was overruled by the Supreme Court in KO (Nigeria) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] UKSC 53. In that case the Court effectively inverted the MA (Pakistan) principle and held that where the parent had no leave to remain, it would ‘normally be reasonable’ for the child to accompany the parent to their country of nationality.

Despite the Court’s decision in KO (Nigeria), the Home Office’s Family Policy (version 4, 01 November 2019), still states that ‘the starting point is that we would not normally expect a qualifying child to leave the UK’. As a result, some immigration applicants are able to achieve successful outcomes under the “seven years’ child” route.

The interaction of law and Home Office policy on this issue is complex. If you need immigration advice, help with a Home Office application, or help with a Tribunal appeal or judicial review, contact our experienced immigration barristers. Our barristers are based in London and Milton Keynes, but can travel to any part of the UK to provide immigration advice or represent clients.

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