One of the most cruel and inhumane immigration rules concerns the parents of British nationals who wish to reside in the UK with their children.
Before 2012, the immigration rules for dependent adults were relatively generous. If you were aged 65 or over and financially dependent on your children, you could obtain permanent residence in the UK.
In 2012, David Cameron’s Conservative government made a change to the immigration rules, and made it almost impossible for a person who has British nationality to bring his or her parents over to live in the UK with them.
Let us use an example to illustrate the above. Let us imagine that Claudia, originally from Ecuador but with British nationality, wishes to bring her 82-year-old mother Ana Maria to the UK. There are numerous reasons why Claudia wants her mother to reside in the UK: Ana Maria is an elderly widow, she has dementia and other medical conditions, there are no relatives who can care for her in Ecuador, she is financially dependent on Claudia, her grandchildren are here, etc. Can Claudia apply for a visa for her mother to come and reside in the UK? She can try, but the application will probably be rejected on the grounds that there are public or private medical institutions in Ecuador that can take care of Ana Maria. Is it worth trying to apply anyway? In my opinion, no, because I would spend £3250 for a visa that has very little chance of being approved. What happens if the application is rejected? Yes, it can be appealed, but the chances of winning the appeal are not very high and the costs go up.
Various organisations, media outlets, activists, etc. have been calling on the government for years to reform the rules for dependent adults. So far, the government has completely ignored the anguish and hardship faced by families separated from their elderly parents. This distress becomes even more apparent when parents lose their partner or when the elderly person requires medical care or simply companionship at the end of his or her life. There is often an urgent need to provide a safe and caring family environment where a person with dementia or other vulnerabilities can spend their last days.
Ten years after its introduction, a major overhaul of the adult dependency rules is needed to correct this historical injustice. Unfortunately the Liz Truss government does not appear to be the forum in which these reforms can be discussed. On the contrary, the current government seems to be more focused on continuing to commit injustices than on correcting existing ones. In the end, we will have to give the benefit of the doubt to Liss Truss and Suella Braverman as they start their respective jobs and judge them by their deeds.
In the future, we will look back at the dependent adult rules that existed from 2012 to at least 2022 and we will be ashamed of what was happening. Whilst I hope that change will happen soon, the fact is that until there are substantial changes to the dependent adult rules, many parents will not be able to be with their sons or daughters at the end of their lives.
Manuel Padilla Behar is a solicitor in England specialising in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in Spanish in Express News