11 January 2022

Update on the 7 years child route

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Under the UK Immigration rules, for children who have been continuously residing in the UK for at least 7 years, these children may qualify for leave to remain if it is shown that it would be ‘unreasonable’ to expect them to leave the UK.

The latest relevant case which was decided under this category is the case of NA (Bangladesh) v SSHD 2021 EWCA Civ 953. This matter went to the Court of Appeal after the Immigration Tribunal refused the family’s application to remain in the UK based on their child who had spent more than 7 years in the UK. The Home Office’s view regarding this case was that even though the child had been born in the UK, he attended the school here and not even once left the UK, it was reasonable for him to relocate back to Bangladesh solely based on his parent’s circumstances and Immigration history as the parents were overstayers in the UK at the time they met and got married.

It is important for me to briefly mention the two legal provisions which address the main issue in this case. Under the Immigration rules, it is recognized that children who have lived in the UK should be granted permission to stay in the UK If it would be unreasonable to expect them to return to their country.

The other provision which applies is by virtue of Section 117B (6) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, it is essential to read this section in conjunction with S. 117D (1), this section puts emphasis on the fact that it is not in the public interest to remove the parent of a child who is British and has lived in the UK for 7 years, therefore, it would be unreasonable to expect the child to leave the country.

The applicant’s family sought to rely on the CoA ruling of MA (Pakistan) 2016 EWCA Civ 70, which stated that it would be unreasonable for such children to leave the UK unless there were ‘powerful reasons to the contrary.

The Court of Appeal’s view in this matter was that the approach to reasonableness could not stand in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision in KO (Nigeria) v SSHD 2018 UKSC 53, the Supreme Court held in this case that the only relevant consideration when assessing reasonableness is the child’s circumstances making the parents conduct irrelevant. However, contrary to this, Lord Carnwath also noted that the Immigration status and nationality of overstaying parents may Indirectly be relevant because the reasonableness of a decision about the child’s future will also depend on where the child is likely to end up if an application is refused. In light of this, the CoA in their judgment stated that the effect of Lord Carnwath’s reasoning in a case falling under the seven-year provision where neither parent has valid leave to remain the starting point for a decision-maker is the commonsense proposition that it will be reasonable to expect the qualifying child to leave the UK with their parents. This stands inconsistent with the so-called ‘powerful reasons doctrine’ which was endorsed by Lord Justice Elias in MA (Pakistan).

To put it into simpler words the seven-year provision does not create a presumption in favour of a seven-year child, and thus their parents, being granted leave to remain. But it should be noted that it also doesn’t create a presumption in the opposite direction.

So, the question that arises is, what really is the point of the seven-year rule?

The decision in the case of Runa v SSHD 2020 EWCA Civ 514 can be taken into consideration for a better understanding of this route. In Runa, it was held that in a case where a Home Office decision-maker considered it would be unreasonable to expect a child to leave the UK, that puts an end to that matter. However, in a case where the decision-maker concludes that it is reasonable for the child to leave the UK, the Human Rights intervenes and lets the family have another go at their application to base it on Human Rights.

Unfortunately, in the case of Bangladesh it was concluded that it would be reasonable to expect the child to move to Bangladesh since his entire family could go with him, therefore, the consideration given to the Human Rights element changed nothing.

What we can conclude in light of this authority is that this route can work out in any of the party’s favour depending on how well the application is made, inevitably the consideration needs to be given to the parent’s circumstances as well contrary to the decision in the case of KO (Nigeria). But this shouldn’t discourage anyone from applying under this route as the circumstances vary in each case.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss that may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Awais has an extensive experience of advising high net-worth individuals on all types of immigration matters, ranging from investor and entrepreneur visa applications to appeals and judicial reviews in the Immigration Tribunal and the High Court.

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