New Restrictions on Nigeria Adoptions splits families up

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. 20 January 2022

Adoptions from Nigeria to the UK were suspended in March 2021 and consequently the Department for Education would not issue a certificate of eligibility which enables visas to be issued for children to come to the UK.  This restriction has a direct effect on the abandoned children’s chances of better life conditions in the UK, and it is questionable whether the fact that Nigerian families who are in the UK and have to face new obstacles in adopting children from Nigeria is justifiable.

We have acted for a child who was born in Nigeria and who applied for an entry clearance as a child under paragraph 316A of the Immigration Rules. The Home Office refused this application under paragraph 310 and 316A of the Immigration Rules. 

The reasons for the refusals were because the adoption of this child from Nigeria was not recognised in the UK and the entry clearance officer was not satisfied that the appellant would be adopted in the UK by his prospective parents in accordance with the law in relation to adoption in the UK.  In relation to Article 8 of the ECHR, the right to a private and family life, although the appellant had a family life with his sponsors the decision was determined to be proportionate, as the refusal would not have unjustifiably harsh consequences to either the appellant or his family. 

We have won the case in Court this week because the Judge accepted that whilst the child does not meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules, it was clear that the sponsor and her husband initially adopted the child and that they were seeking to undertake formal adoption proceedings in the UK.  Unfortunately, the relationship between the sponsor and her husband broke down during the lengthy application process and therefore it was not possible for the child to be left in Nigeria or for the process of adoption to be formalised in the UK.  We argued that it would be in the best interests of the child to remain with his adoptive mother in the UK, as her life was in the UK. The Judge was given a considerable amount of evidence on behalf of the appellant and evidence that the mother can sponsor the child without recourse to public funds.

As the position had changed since the original application was made (given the separation of the adoptive parents) the Judge was satisfied that the sponsor had ‘sole responsibility’ for the child and that she was in a position to maintain the appellant in the UK without recourse to public funds.  The Judge accepted that there is a family life established between the appellant and the sponsor and although the mother had dual nationality, her life was essentially in the UK where she is employed and where she had close family members.  The Judge was satisfied that the best interests of this child would be to be with his mother, and to be in a country where she had employment, and accommodation, and family to support her. 

The Judge accepted that refusal would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences as it would result in a separation between the appellant and his adoptive mother.