The Migrants’ Rights Network — Written evidence (FAM0037)   




     The Migrants’ Rights Network

     Context: Adult Dependent Relative (ADR) Visa Policies

     The impact of family migration laws

  The emotional impact of separation

  How laws could be adapted to prevent periods of separation




We welcome this inquiry into this important issue. Our response highlights the implications of migration policies on families with particular emphasis on the emotional impact. In compiling this response, we have incorporated the stories of ADR campaigners with lived experience of engaging with the policies, and restrictions, brought about by family migration rules.


The Migrants’ Rights Network

The Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) is a charity that fights alongside migrants in their fight for rights and justice. We partner with individuals and organisations to challenge policy and legislation; build leadership and campaigning capacity in migrant communities; and raise awareness of migrants’ rights.


Our response will consider the following questions set out in the inquiry:

  1. In what circumstances may family immigration law and practice result in an extended (or indefinite) period of family separation or place families under stress in other ways?
  2. How could they be adapted to prevent or shorten periods of family separation or be more accommodating of the wellbeing of families?
  3. How does this affect those separated from families?
  4. What means of communication are used and what is the impact of use?
  5. How do family migration policies and their implementation affect the integration and participation in British society of (would-be) sponsors and their sponsored family members?

Adult Dependent Relative Visa Policies

Hostile family migration policies in the UK have profound emotional impacts on families from migratised communities. At the Migrants’ Rights Network, we have been working with those with lived experience of engaging with restrictive policies around the Adult Dependent Relative (ADR) rules.


The purpose of the ADR route is to allow an individual with ongoing care needs to live with a close relative in the UK provided they can demonstrate they require long-term care that can only be provided by their UK-based sponsor[1].


ADR visas are only granted in very limited circumstances. The Government states that the intention behind the ADR Rules is to “reduce the burden on the taxpayer for the provision of NHS and local authority social care services whose needs can be reasonably and adequately met in their home country[2].”


Under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, an individual has a right to family life without government interference. However, this is clearly not the case as the UK Government is in fact hindering the right to family life and is restricting the ability for families to be together, even in exceptional circumstances[3]. The ADR campaigners have found the interpretation of the ADR route has blocked the possibility of reunification with applications dropping from 2500 per year in 2012 to under 20 per year now.


The impact of family migration laws


  1. The emotional impact of separation

The current family migration laws have a profound negative impact on ADR applicants and their families. In collaboration with the ADR campaigners group, we have aimed to demonstrate the complex and arguably harsh policies have on applicants and their families.


We conducted interviews with ADR campaigners, many of whom are Skilled Workers, and it is evident that the restrictive rules are leading to a detrimental impact on their mental health and the health of adult relatives abroad. Many respondents informed us that in their country of origin, social care is either not available or is incredibly limited. As a result, adult relatives begin to experience a sharper decline in their physical wellbeing. The restrictions around travel were further increased as a result of the pandemic.


It is clear that many are having their ADR applications refused and many are receiving a number of extraordinary and shocking responses from the Home Office. One respondent, who is a clinician in the NHS, stated that in engaging with the Home Office in order to secure a visa for an unwell parent, they were informed that unless a relative is unable to walk or feed themselves, the visa will not be granted.


These restrictive rules are not only leading to a significant impact on the emotional wellbeing of ADR applicants and the dependents themselves, but it is also leading many people to leave the UK in order to care for relatives in their countries of origin. This is not only causing significant disruption to their lives and livelihoods but is also creating gaps in numerous workforces in the healthcare and legal sectors. Many ADR campaigners stated they are making multiple trips abroad which are disruptive or costly. Furthermore, these excursions are only possible to those with the financial means of funding these trips as well as having employers who can support them. For those in lower paid professions or from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, this is simply not a possibility.


Applicants and their families find themselves receiving harsh and extraordinary advice from the Home Office who cite that rather than be reunited, families should merely rely on modern means of communication. Relationships between families are having to be maintained via phones or social media. However, such methods of communication are limited or impossible for those with little to no access to technology or for those who have safeguarding concerns or specific emotional needs, such as loneliness.


  1. How laws could be adapted to prevent periods of separation

In order to prevent periods of separation, the laws around adult dependency need to be more flexible and more empathetic.


The ADR campaigners stated they feel a review of “harsh and unjust” rules in relation to the ADR visa category is necessary. In its current form, rules and their interpretations are effectively blocking any potential route to reunification via this visa category. Those affected by these rules are calling for a public review of statistics and an acknowledgement of how unjust the operation of this visa category is. They are asking for immediate modifications of the rules and their interpretations.



The issues outlined in this consultation response have been raised by ADR applicants with lived experience of the visa route. It is evident that existing ADR visa rules are incredibly restrictive and have a significant detrimental impact on families in the UK and abroad.

In partnership with MRN, the ADR campaigners are calling for an immediate review of the visa route and modifications to current rules. Moreover, it is unnecessarily cruel and unjust to separate individuals residing in the UK from sick and vulnerable family members, many of whom are isolated with no access to care. If the UK is to uphold any remnants of respect for family life, the ADR route must be accessible.



September 2022