Vanguard Solicitors

The Home Office used to have a seven-year child policy called DP5/96 under which there was a presumption that a child who had lived in the UK for a continuous seven-year period should not be removed from the UK if no other countervailing factors were present. This policy was withdrawn in December 2008.

From 9th July 2012, the Immigration Rules re-introduced the idea of seven years as a benchmark in family cases involving children. Seven years of residence by a child was formally incorporated into the rules as a sufficient period to justify continued residence by the child and parents.

Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 requires the UK Border Agency to carry out its existing functions in a way that takes into account the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the UK. It does not impose any new functions, or override existing functions.

By introducing the new provisions within the Immigration Rules, the UKBA has actually re-instated the old seven years child concession policy. The only difference is that previously it was a concessionary policy and not it is part of the Immigration Rules. Also, under the seven years child concession policy, the UKBA used to grant indefinite leave to remain (ILR), whereas according to the Immigration Rules, the UKBA will now grant initial leave to remain for a period of 30 months and upon completion of ten years residence in the UK under this category a person can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) unless he is eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) earlier on the basis of ten years long continuous and lawful residence.

In December 2012, a new criterion of whether it would be reasonable for the child to leave the UK was added by Statement of Changes HC760. Since then, the new statutory human rights presumptions at Part 5A of the 2002 Act have also incorporated a two-stage test of seven years continuous residence and whether it would be reasonable for the child to leave the UK.

The current Immigration Rules contain a seven-year provision which is applicable where:

  • the child is under 18;
  • the child is in the UK;
  • the child has lived continuously in the UK for at least 7 years (discounting any period of imprisonment); and
  • it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK.

Why 7 years?

When the seven-year child concession was brought within the Immigration Rules, the explanatory notes accompanying that particular change (paragraph 7.6 of HC194) stated that:

‘The key test for a non-British citizen child remaining on a permanent basis is the length of residence in the UK of the child – Which the rules set at least the last seven years, subject to countervailing factors. The changes are designed to bring consistency and transparency to decision-making’.

Seven years is a long time for a child, in most cases a child who has lived here for that period will have little, if not, no memory of a life lived anywhere else.  To uproot that child from their friends, school and all that they know, will in the vast majority of cases be against their best interests.   Most Home Office decision-makers and some Judges consider however, that where the child’s parents have a poor immigration history and the child would leave the UK as part of a family unit, that irrespective of the child’s best interests, the balance ought to come down in favour of the state, the outcome being that the child will be removed from the UK with the rest of their family.

Not reasonable to expect the applicant to leave the UK

The Home Office has provided guidance to its caseworkers in relation to the test to be applied with regard to whether it would be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK. The factors that are taken into account include:

  • any significant risk to the child’s health, for example, where a child is undergoing a course of treatment for a life threatening or serious illness and treatment would not be available in a country to which he or she would be returning;
  • whether it would be reasonable for the child to return with his or her parents;
  • any wider family ties in the United Kingdom;
  • whether he or she is a citizen of the country he or she may return to;
  • whether he or she has previously visited or lived in that country;
  • any family and friendship networks there;
  • any relevant cultural ties there and whether the child understands that culture having been part of a diaspora here;
  • his or her ability to speak, read and write a language spoken there;
  • whether he or she ever attended school in that country.

Initial Application

A child who has lived in the UK for 7 years continuously can apply for leave to remain on the basis of private life. Paragraph 276ADE(1)(iv) requires that the applicant must be under the age of 18 years and must have lived continuously in the UK for at least 7 years (discounting any period of imprisonment) and it should not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK.

Period of grant

Limited leave to remain may be granted for a period not exceeding 30 months if the application for leave to remain on these grounds is successful. Such leave (stay) shall be given subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State deems appropriate.


If you have been previously granted leave to remain in the UK as a child or as a parent of a child under the 7 years child residence route, you can apply for extension of your stay by making an application for renewal of your leave to remain under this category.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

The successful applicant will be granted leave to remain for 30 months under the 10 years route to settlement whereby an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can be made after 10 years of continuous residence in the UK under this visa category.

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