Nigeria and Adoptions

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.
27 April 2021

Nigerian adoptions are not recognised in the UK.  This means that children cannot join their parents as dependent children under the immigration rules as things stand. 

Furthermore, some adoptions cannot be treated as de facto adoptions because the parents have not always been living abroad for 18 months, 12 of which must be with the child, before the date of the application. 

Other options for families in this situation would be applying to the High Court for the Nigerian adoption to be recognised.  This can be a slow and cumbersome process in which the High Court will look in detail at whether the adoption process in Nigeria was lawfully carried out according to Nigerian law and whether it should therefore be recognised in England. 

The Court will also assess whether the parents’ “domicile” is in Nigeria.  Domicile is a legal concept and does not equate to residence.  If they have retained ties to Nigeria such as having property and family there as well as speaking the language and celebrating Nigerian customs etc., whilst living in the UK, it may be that they continue to be domiciled in Nigeria. 

Alternatively, an application for a child to join the parents in the UK could be made outside the Rules relying on the child’s best interests and Article 8 of the ECHR. However, such applications can be refused by an entry clearance officer and the decision will attract a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. 

If the adopted child is also a blood relative, such as a niece, and she is living in compelling circumstances in Nigeria and there are family or other considerations which make her exclusion undesirable, it may be possibly to apply for her to come to the UK under paragraph 297(i)(f) of the Rules.