Family visitors visa – presumption in favour of granting a visa

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
17 March 2023

The visitors visa route has proven to be, for some nationalities, very difficult to obtain, with a high rate of being unsuccessful. The state of mind of the entry clearance officer is one of suspicion, that the applicant is trying to come to the UK to be with UK based relatives and will over stay their visa. This also applies to families with strong ties in their country of origin.

The House of Lords conducted an inquiry into family migration 2022 that policies and practices around visitor visas deterred applicants from applying for family visitor visas. The absence of a right of appeal against a refusal of an application for a visitor’s visa, (which was removed in 2012), put families off the idea of applying.

The inquiry heard evidence about other types of visitor’s visas which are offered by other countries. The Australian Government allows parents of Australian residents to visit for up to five years at a time, subject to a maximum of 10 years in total. The Canadian super visa for parents and grandparents granted once, but allows them to enter the country several times and to stay for up to five years at a time, in a 10-year period.

The conclusion of the inquiry of the House of Lords is contained at paragraph 182 of the report, where it states that “Family visitor’s visas should be granted unless there are compelling reasons for rejection based on the specific circumstances of an individual case”. In other words, there is a rebuttable presumption that should be introduced in favour of granting applications for visitor’s visas to close family members.

It recommended that a visa allowing multiple entries, (as opposed to a single) one should be issued more frequently to parents and grandparents and those should be allowed to stay longer than six months at a time. It was also suggested as a reform that the right of appeal against negative decisions on family visit visas should be reintroduced.