UKVI wrongly rejected a visa application for a child, causing three years of distress and uncertainty

Organisation we investigated: UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

Date investigation closed: 2 December 2019

The complaint

Complainant H complained that UKVI rejected two visa applications for Person C. They also complained UKVI took five months to provide Person C’s visa once their appeal had been upheld.

Complainant H said they experienced distress and anxiety as a result.

What we found

Our role in this complaint was to consider whether UKVI made its decisions in accordance with the relevant rules, not the decisions themselves. Complainant H had followed the correct process to question the decision by appealing to the tribunal.

We found that UKVI reached its decision on the first application within the framework it operates under for deciding visa applications. UKVI had considered the available evidence and reached a discretionary decision. The tribunal allowed the appeal against this decision.

UKVI then, however, also rejected the second application, although the tribunal had decided that the visa should have been awarded. UKVI reached this decision because it was now aware that Complainant H was not biologically related to C. UKVI decided this meant the tribunal’s decision was not valid.

UKVI made this decision against its own rules. UKVI should have challenged the tribunal’s decision and did not. UKVI should then have issued the visa within eight weeks. Instead, UKVI reassessed the application, before rejecting it for the second time.

Following the second tribunal’s ruling, UKVI did not delay issuing the visa. UKVI did not receive the tribunal’s determination for almost two months after the decision. Once UKVI received the determination, it undertook the work to issue the visa without delay, issuing the visa within five weeks.


Complainant H wanted to bring Person C to the UK following the death of Person C’s mother, Complainant H’s adopted sister.

They applied for a settlement visa (indefinite leave to remain) for Person C on grounds of serious compelling and compassionate circumstances. Person C, a child, was living with their elderly grandparents in their home country following the death of Person C’s mother shortly after their birth.

The application was rejected as UKVI was not satisfied there were serious and compelling family considerations and there was insufficient evidence of the relationship between Complainant H and Person C.

Complainant H appealed the decision through tribunal. The tribunal concluded that the appeal should be allowed under the immigration rules and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right to a private and family life. The judge was satisfied that there were serious and compelling family considerations and evidence of the relationship between Complainant H and Person C.

UKVI did not issue a visa after the tribunal decision. Instead UKVI refused the application saying there were safeguarding concerns given the complex relationship between Complainant H and Person C.

Complainant H appealed again to the tribunal, which upheld their appeal. Person C received their visa three years after the initial application.

Putting it right

We recommended UKVI pay Complainant H £1,400 in recognition of the distress and inconvenience they suffered.

UKVI complied with our recommendation.