Single Parent Visa

There is no visa specifically entitled 'single parent visa'. It is an informal term to describe a change in the rules that became effective in October, 2000 that allows for the settlement of divorced/separated parents who have children settled in the UK (the actual name would be "limited leave to remain for a parent exercising rights of access to a child who is resident in the UK").

It is used mainly by parents whose marriage has broken down whilst in the UK, but is also available to a parent outside of the UK who has (and wishes to exercise) rights of access to their child. It is only available if the child is normally resident in the UK, and if the child is under 18. If the applicant is outside of the UK, they must satisfy the following requirements:


  • The other parent (or carer) must be a UK resident.
  • The parent applying for settlement must demonstrate that they intend to maintain frequent contact with the child and participate in the child's upbringing.
  • The parent applying for settlement must show that they will not rely upon public funds.
  • The parent applying for settlement must show that they have rights of access to the child. This would take the form of a UK court order, or a certificate from a similar entity such as a district judge. A simple agreement between the parents is not sufficient.

If the applicant is inside the UK, the above conditions would apply and they must also show that they have not been in breach of immigration law. Additionally the applicant would be required to show evidence of frequent visits with the child. Finally, if the applicant is inside the UK, a court order may not be required if the applicant can prove regular contact with the child.

If the child resides in the UK only part-time because of a joint custody arrangement, at least 50% of the child's time must be spent in the UK in order to qualify. If the child spends less than 50% if his time in the UK, the application may not succeed.

Applicants outside the UK require an entry clearance and would use the VAF1A General form to apply at a British consulate. Applicants already in the UK would apply at a Public Enquiry Office using the FLR(O) form.

If the application is successful, the parent is given a 12 month limited leave visa leading to indefinite leave (permanent residence) after the 12 months is spent. Indefinite leave can only be granted if the child is still under the age of 18.

During the 12 month limited leave visa, the parent is entitled to work. 

To follow up on this information, check our Internet Resources page...

Reviewed 9 May 2012


Family Path FAQ

Yes. If your visa says 'No Work', it means just that. Working in the 'black economy' circumvents both the VAT and National Insurance schemes.

To begin, let's look at this comment from the UKvisas Independent Monitor...

"...Linked to the allegation of vagueness is an associated one to do with a lack of booked hotels and tickets: I am aware that some Posts advise all applicants bar transit passengers not to book tickets or hotels until they have their visa. I endorse this approach. It is not right to require bookings which will cost money before a visa is obtained and UKvisas has now issued advice which states explicitly that applicant should not be expected to make travel or hotel bookings before obtaining their visa..." --Report of the Independent Monitor 2004 (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999), published February 2005, UKvisas

So the answer is No. Round-trip air tickets are not required to apply for a settlement visa, or any other type of visa for that matter (the exception being air-side transit visas which are outside the scope of this FAQ). The Foreign Office tells us that purchasing tickets in advance of an application is not recommended because of complications that can occur. 

Yes, but not with a visa issued to a different sponsor. You will need to reapply first.

Yes. But to come back in to the UK, you would need to get a spousal visa first.