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Meaning of “parental relationship” under the Immigration Act 2014

Official headnote to R (on the application of RK) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (s.117B(6); “parental relationship” (IJR) [2016] UKUT 31 (IAC):

1. It is not necessary for an individual to have “parental responsibility” in law for there to exist a parental relationship.

2. Whether a person who is not a biological parent is in a “parental relationship” with a child for the purposes of s.117B(6) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 depends on the individual circumstances and whether the role that individual plays establishes he or she has “stepped into the shoes” of a parent.

3. Applying that approach, apart from the situation of split families where relationships between parents have broken down and an actual or de facto step-parent exists, it will be unusual, but not impossible, for more than 2 individuals to have a “parental relationship” with a child. However, the relationships between a child and professional or voluntary carers or family friends are not “parental relationships”.

The claimed “parental relationship” in this case was between British children and their foreign national grandmother who provided care for them where the mother of the children suffered from a progressive and debilitating medical condition. The tribunal upholds the Secretary of State’s judgment that this did not amount to a “parental relationship” within the meaning of the Immigration Act 2014. However, the door is left open for other cases to succeed on the facts where the “parental relationship” is not between a child and biological parent.

Colin Yeo
Colin Yeo A barrister specialising in UK immigration law at Garden Court Chambers in London, I have been practising in immigration law for 15 years. I am passionate about immigration law and founded and edit the Free Movement immigration law blog.

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