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UK Visa for a Child Under 5

The UK offers three visa options for children under 5. Depending on the reason for the child’s visit/immigration to the UK, a child dependent visa, child student visa, or a child visitor visa may be appropriate.

For more information on the Child Visa and how to apply, contact IAS on 0333 305 9375 or chat with one of our advisers online.

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What is a UK Child Visa and Who Qualifies?

Depending on the type of child visa, it may be granted to children under 18 whose parents legally reside in the UK, are present and settled in the UK, or are being admitted for settlement.

Alternatively, a visitor visa may be needed for children under 5 to visit the UK on a short term or a Child Student visa may be needed if the young person intends to study at an independent school in the UK.

Types of UK Child Visas for a Child Under 5

There are three types of UK Child Visas for a child under 5: the Dependent Child Visa, the Child Student Visa, and the Child Visitor Visa. Before applying, you must determine which type of visa suits you and your dependent child.

The Dependent Child Visa

The Child Dependent Visa allows an overseas child under 5 to join their parents living in the UK. To be granted the Child Dependent Visa, the parent(s) must hold (or be in the process of applying for) a Long-Term Visa (for example, a Skilled Worker Visa). With this visa, both parents reside in the UK with the child by the Home Office. If only one parent is present in the UK, they must prove they have sole responsibility for the child.

If the sponsoring parent (who stays in the UK) cannot show their sole responsibility for the child, they must show serious and compelling reasons which demonstrate that joining the parent in the UK would be required due to exceptional circumstances.

The Child Student Visa

A Child Student Visa is for those children aged between 4 and 17 years old who want to study at an independent school.

Applicants for this visa must have secured a place at an approved school and have the consent of their parent of guardian, as well as proof of financial support during their time at school.

This visa can be applied for no sooner than six months before their course starts in the UK.

The Child Visitor Visa

The Child Visitor Visa is a Standard Visitor Visa for children. If your child is under 5 years old, they may visit the UK if:

  • You’ve made the necessary arrangements for your child’s travel and visit in the UK
  • You can pay for your child’s return and onward journey
  • You have enough financial means to support your child without working or relying on public funds, or you have family and friends who can support your child
  • Your child will not travel alone – most airlines do not permit children younger than 5 to travel without their adults. If this is allowed, your child requires your written consent as their parent and full contact details. You also must provide evidence that your child has somewhere suitable to live during their visit in the UK. This must include the following information:
    • The name, date of birth and the address of the person that your child will be staying with
    • Details of your child’s relationship with the person who will look after your child
    • That person’s written consent for the child to stay with them while the child is in the UK
  • If your child under 5 is travelling with an adult who is not their parent or guardian, you (as the parent) must provide your child with written consent to your child’s travel and accommodation arrangements. The adult travelling with your child must be identified in the Child Visitor Visa application
Father walking with child on the beach

UK Child Visa Requirements and Eligibility

In addition to the requirements specific to the type of Child Visa you’re applying for, there are general visa requirements that your child must meet for a successful visa application. The child applicants who are under the age of 5 must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Hold documents that show their age (the child must be under the age of 18 and not be living an independent life)
  • Be financially supported by you as their parent without recourse to public funds or benefits
  • Provide evidence of adequate arrangements for the child during their stay in the UK
  • One of the parents of the child must hold or be in the process of applying for a UK Visa – this can be a visa application as a partner who joins the other partner (for example, the UK Marriage Visa) or as a parent with the sole responsibility of the child

Financial Requirements for a UK Child Visa

You, as the parent, must fulfil the financial requirements for the Child Visa application. This requirement aims to ensure that you have enough financial funds to support yourself and your dependent child while you live in the UK. It ensures you can support yourself and your child without relying on public funds.

The Home Office requires every parent who wants their non-EU child under the age of 5 to enter the UK to prove that they have an income of at least £18,600 per year. To demonstrate this, you may use your savings and your income. If you plan to bring more than one child to the UK, you must be able to show that you earn extra money for each of your children.

Any legal source of income counts as proof that you meet the financial requirement for the UK Child Visa. The evidence you may use includes:

  • Salary, if you earn it in the UK
  • Cash savings above £16,000
  • Pension money
  • Non-work income, such as property rentals

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Required Supporting Documents for the UK Child Visa for Children Under 5

To demonstrate that your dependent child is eligible for the UK Child Visa, you must provide evidence, including:

  • Your child’s passport or travel document and two recent digital photographs, following UK passport guidelines for children under 5
  • Proof of your and your child’s age, such as birth or adoption certificate, passport etc.
  • Evidence of your relationship with the child such as birth or adoption certificate
  • Documents showing your sole responsibility for the child or sole custody
  • Details of accommodation in the UK
  • Documents demonstrating that you meet the financial requirements and have enough money to support your child during their stay in the UK – bank statements, a letter from the parent’s employer who is residing in the UK detailing the job title, period worked and the current salary, etc.

How to Apply for a UK Child Visa?

To apply for a Child Visa, you must first determine which type of Child Visa you want to apply for and apply for it online before your child travels to the UK. If your child is under 5, you must apply on their behalf. The earliest you can apply for a Child Visa is three months before your child’s planned travel.

You must have all the required supporting documents prepared to complete your child’s online visa application.

You should contact the UK Consulate or Embassy in your home country to book an appointment when applying outside the UK. Alternatively, there may be Visa Application Centres closer to where you reside. If you’re applying inside the UK, you must contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

At your child’s visa appointment, you will need to:

  • Prove your child’s identity with their passport or travel document
  • Provide the required supporting documents that show your child’s eligibility for the UK Child Visa that you’re applying for

Please note that with the UK Child Visa, older children must provide fingerprints and biometric information (photos taken) during their appointment at the Visa Application Centre. However, this is not a requirement for children under 5.

Processing Time for UK Child Visa Application

Once you have submitted your child’s visa application, proved your identity and submitted the required documents, the UKVI will decide on your application. This usually takes about three weeks. However, the processing time may take longer if your child’s visa application requires further information or documents.

The cost of your child’s visa will depend on where you apply from, the type of visa you are applying for and the length of your child’s stay in the UK.

If you have any questions about UK visas for a child, our team is happy to assist.

Validity of UK Visa (Child Under 5)

Your child’s visa expiry date will depend on your visa validity. If the child is visiting the UK on a Child Visitor Visa, they can live in the UK for up to 6 months.

Common Reasons for UK Child Visa Application Rejection

The vast majority of the UK Child Visa applications are successful. However, some are rejected for reasons including:

  • Incomplete applications – missing information and failure to fill out the required forms
  • Insufficient financial means – lack of sufficient financial resources to support your child during their stay in the UK
  • Missing documents – not providing adequate support documents to show your child’s eligibility for the visa type they are applying for
  • Failure to follow visa procedures – missing visa appointment deadlines, not attending visa appointments etc.

How Can IAS Help You?

The UK Child Visa is a significant immigration route for any parent wanting to bring their child to the UK long-term, planning to visit the UK for a short period or wishing their child to attend a UK independent school.

However, it can be challenging to determine which type of visa suits you and your child and what is required to apply for the visa successfully.

IAS is a team of reliable immigration advisers who have helped many parents bring their children under 5 to the UK. Our advisers can help you determine whether you need a child visa and what type to apply for. They can advise you on gathering the required supporting documents to ensure the highest chances of your child’s visa approval.

To find out how IAS can help with a child visa application, call 0333 305 9375 or chat with one of our advisers online.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

No, if your child is on a Standard 6-month Visitor Visa, they cannot study on a long-term course (longer than six months).

If your child’s UK Visa is refused, you may be eligible to submit an within 28 days of receiving the decision on your child’s visa. Alternatively, a PAP or Judicial Review if your appeal is refused.

Children under 18 are not required to take the English language test when coming to the UK as a dependent.

No, you cannot travel with a child while their UK Visa application is being processed. You must remain in the UK until you receive a decision about your child’s visa.

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