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Adopted child visas for the UK
Moderators: nickomsk, Chris, TonyH, DeaconStreet

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IanJ
Posted 2011-09-03 11:42 AM (#45656)
Subject: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
Hello!

I wonder if anyone on the forum can give advice about our situation regarding a visa for our adopted Russian children.

Here is our case: my wife (Olga) is a Russian national, and we have been married for 3.5 years - married in St Petersburg. We have been living in the UK, but still have a flat in St Petersburg. Olga has indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

About a year ago, we decided to adopt a child from Russia. Olga travelled to St Petersburg, and we quite quickly found a lovely little 3-year-old boy (Maxim), who Olga adopted under the Russian adoption process - this involved me giving written permission to do so, but means that under Russian law, Maxim is only Olga’s son, not mine. I wouldn’t be able to adopt in Russia, because we live mostly in the UK, and I’m not Russian.

As anyone who has been through this process will know, the reason we did the adoption directly in Russia, is because local Russians get a far wider choice of healthy children, rather than going through a “foreign” adoption agency.

We then approached our local authority in the UK to start the process of bringing Maxim into the UK, so that we could all live together here. We were referred to an organisation called PACT (parents and children together). Our local authority (Cambridgeshire) has outsourced all its intercountry adoption process to PACT.

Meanwhile, Olga has now been staying in our flat in St Petersburg looking after Maxim for about 8 months, whilst we try to navigate the intercountry adoption process. We take it in turns to travel to see each other during this time - probably about once every 6 weeks or so, but obviously if Olga travels to the UK, she needs to leave Maxim with our relations in St P, until he has a visa.

As part of the process of bringing Maxim into the UK, the UK Border Agency website says that we need a “certificate of eligibility” which comes as the result of a home assessment by social workers from PACT, and attending parental training classes etc. Unfortunately, this would require Olga to be assessed in the UK, and so PACT say they can’t really do this, without needing Olga to constantly travel back and forth from St P, and of course they say this would not be in Maxim’s best interests to be so often away from Olga, so they can’t do it. Also it does seem a bit stupid, since by the time we could get on a suitable training course, we will have had Maxim for nearly one year!

In fact after weeks/months of emails and phone calls back and forth, the director of intercountry adoption at PACT suggested we just bring Maxim into the UK, stating that he was adopted under Russian law and is Olga’s son, joining her in the UK on the basis that she has ILR. He says we could then just apply locally in Cambridge, for me to adopt Maxim in the UK. I was amazed at this advice, since the UKBA website says that anyone bringing an adopted child into the UK under anything other than “entry clearance of an adopted child, with a view to settlement” (which requires the certificate of eligibility) can face imprisonment and a large fine!

The extra complication is that the UK doesn’t recognise the Russian adoption process (surprise, surprise!), and Russia is not a signatory to the part of the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption which would have allowed us to bring Maxim here under this Convention.

We have somewhat added to the complication, since whilst Olga has been waiting in St P to resolve this, we have adopted an 18-month old little girl (Daria) to become Maxim’s little sister (yes, I know, I know!). You will all know that patience is not a natural Russian trait

I have taken expensive “advice” from a so-called immigration specialist lawyer (based in Birmingham), who, after erroneously suggesting we could use the Hague Convention, ended up just telling us we would need to get the certificate of eligibility etc (which we already know we can’t really get from PACT, as detailed above).

We’ve approached the British Consulate in St P, but they just direct us to an external agency who deal with visa applications, whose “helpline” (charged at 72Rub/min) says that it can’t give advice on which type of visa to apply for!

We are now just going around in circles - it seems we need to get assessed, so that we can get a certificate of eligibility and appropriate entry visa, but the organisation (PACT) who could do this are saying that “in the best interests of the child” (yeah, right!), they can’t do the assessment because they would not want Olga to have to leave the children in St P to do the necessary “training” in the UK. Argghhh!!

In hindsight (which is always 20/20), we should have done the assessment process before Olga travelled to Russia, but we weren’t aware of the complications we were introducing - yes, I know that’s our fault!

Does anyone have direct experience of the same situation? What did you do to resolve it?
Looking on various Russian forums of people living in other European countries who have done similar adoptions, they don’t seem to have the same problems, since they have just been able to bring their children into the country for “local” adoption.

Trust me, I have looked in detail at all the UKBA web-based info, and taken advice from 2 lawyers, but we don’t seem to be able to see a way through.

Any help, much appreciated!

Regards,

Ian
Rasboinik
Posted 2011-09-03 1:38 PM (#45657 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: RE: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ian,

Hello and Welcome to the forum.

 

Regarding your issues.

 

I am not sure if any of the forum members have any experience  with the issues that you are experiencing therefore I don't know if anybody will be able to give you advise.

 

The best suggestion that I can give you is to give Real Russia a call on Monday.

 

 

The second best suggestion that I can give you is to ditch all the immigration lawyers because most of them are normally a waste of time.

 

Last but not least I wish you luck and success 

 

TonyH
Posted 2011-09-03 4:01 PM (#45659 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ian to my knowledge there has been no one who has declared having been through this process on the forum but there might well be someone lurking - anyone ??

Regardless of you finding all your answers here it would be good to follow your experiences as you navigate the problems you have. I am sure this might be more than a passing interest to quite a few.

Best of luck
IanJ
Posted 2011-09-03 4:26 PM (#45660 - in reply to #45659)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
Hello,

Thanks for the supportive replies.

I have a call with the director of PACT scheduled on Monday, to see what he suggests now that I have pointed out that his previous suggestion could see us arrested at UK passport control!

... although to be fair, I think he is probably uncomfortable with the fact that we would need to pay his organisation >£6500 for a home assessment and then the government charges >£1700 just to receive our paperwork, when it is obvious we have already been through a vetting process in Russia, and indeed have been praised by the local adoption authorities in St P for how well Maxim and Dasha have adapted to life with us outside their "detskii dom".

Regards,

Ian
TonyH
Posted 2011-09-03 5:28 PM (#45661 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ian is there not a distinction between children being adopted by UK citizens abroad and being brought into the UK and that of a native citizen of a different country (in this case Russia) adopting within that country under that countries law and then settling ?

TonyH
Posted 2011-09-03 5:47 PM (#45665 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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I understand this bit after doing some reading

"The extra complication is that the UK doesn’t recognise the Russian adoption process (surprise, surprise!), and Russia is not a signatory to the part of the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption which would have allowed us to bring Maxim here under this Convention."

Ie Russia is not of the designated list therefore the Russia adoption is not recognised and the child has to be readopted in the UK by both you and Olga.

Can't you do the course on your own ?
IanJ
Posted 2011-09-03 6:13 PM (#45668 - in reply to #45665)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
Hello Tony,

Yes, that's correct - that's the complication we didn't realise existed when we started all this process. To be honest, if we knew in advance, we could have completed the necessary process here to become "approved", and then travelled to Russia..... but we can't turn the clock back, so now here we are with Olga and the children in St P and me here in the UK.

I'm going to see what PACT say on Monday. Their nervousness is that they are just an agency who prepare the admin etc. The *real* decision comes from the Secretary of State for Dept of Education (it used to be dept of children, schools and families DCSF) - Michael Gove and cronies.

PACT seem to be saying that the process requires Olga and I to both be assessed by "professionals" in the UK, and then to apply to the DfE - since the UK will not even acknowledge Olga's adoption of the children in Russia...... however, PACT then go on to advise that Olga should not be travelling to the UK to go through this process for the "welfare of the children".

Hopefully I can appeal to someone's common sense to sort this out.

Regards,

Ian
Rasboinik
Posted 2011-09-03 6:43 PM (#45669 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: RE: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ian,

 

May I ask who stated that " the UK will not even acknowledge Olga's adoption of the children in Russia" 

Was it the UK immigration authorities?

If yes then you may as well ignore the rest of this post.

If it was not the UKBA that gave you that information then here is (hopefully) some ammunition when you have your meeting with the PACT people.

 

Your wife is a Russian citizen admittedly with an Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK but she is still a Russian Citizen.

So therefore as a Russian citizen she legally adopted the children in Russia.

From the UKBA website.

 

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/partnersandfamilies/children/childpermanentresident/

This page explains how your child or children can apply to settle permanently with you in the UK if you are a permanent resident here, or if you have been given permission to settle here permanently (also known as 'indefinite leave to remain').

 ------------------------------------------

There are additional requirements for adopted children. If you have temporary permission to live in the UK, see the Children of temporary residents page.

 http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/partnersandfamilies/children/adoptedchild/

If the adoption order was made in a country that is not on the designated list, the child can apply to come to the UK to be adopted through the courts here. In this case, they will be allowed to stay here for up to two years.

Your child will not automatically become a British citizen, unless you adopted them through the UK courts and at least one of the adoptive parents was a British citizen when the adoption order was made.

 

As I read the above your wife is entitled to bring her adopted children to live with her in the UK, accepted she will then have to readopt the children through the UK courts within the allotted time frame (two years).


 

TonyH
Posted 2011-09-03 7:16 PM (#45670 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Raffi this is a good read

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/i/intercountry%20ado...

I can't see anyway around having approval first if the adoption took place in a non designated country regardless of by whom
IanJ
Posted 2011-09-03 7:39 PM (#45671 - in reply to #45670)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
Hello Raffi and Tony,

Yes, initially we were encouraged by the links which Raffi quotes, since they don't mention anything about approval before entering the UK.

... But I have also read the link which Tony quotes and poured over the details many times, and I also came to the conclusion that approval is required before entering the UK - no way round it (even if PACT are suggesting there is!).

We just need to hope that PACT understand this, and can try to be accommodating to allow us to gain approval, hopefully without the need for Olga to attend a course to "learn" how to look after her child who she has been looking after for several months!

We'll just have to bite our tongues when being lectured to by hand-wringing social workers who try to teach us about cultural diversity, and the emotional turmoil of being adopted (I was adopted, by the way!).

Regards,

Ian
Rasboinik
Posted 2011-09-03 9:13 PM (#45673 - in reply to #45671)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Tony

I hate to point out the obvious (as I see it) but the link you provided is about "intercountry" adoption i.e a British citizen adopting a child from another country.

 

Ian

As i see it your wife is not involved in "intercountry" adoption but an "in-country adoption" i.e. a Russian citizen adopting Russian children.

 

I am just providing food for thought.

 

On a different note.

Tony,

The link that you provided it states that "  (At time of writing, the Republic of Ireland and the Russian Federation are on the list but have not yet brought the Convention into force and so cannot make Hague Convention Adoption Orders.)" and if the link provided in the document http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=24 is followed then it does not show a date against the Entry Into Force but if this link is followed http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=69  then it shows a date of 1-X-2011 in the EIF (Entry Into Force) column so as I see it from the 1st of October this year the Hague Convention Adoption orders will come into play.

 

 



Edited by Rasboinik 2011-09-03 9:15 PM
IanJ
Posted 2011-09-03 10:00 PM (#45675 - in reply to #45673)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
I have found this document:
http://www.osbornes.net/literature-pdfs/20100601.na.rsk.doc.russian...

which seems to touch on many of the issues.

It says that members of the Russian legal system are (not surprisingly) offended by the UK authorities not accepting the validity of the Russian adoption process.

Raffi:
One of the links in your post refers to child abduction, not child adoption (I think). I think it's the abduction one which will enter into force in Oct 2011 (unfortunately not the adoption one).

Thanks very much for your tenacity in trying to help, by the way!

Regards,

Ian
Rasboinik
Posted 2011-09-03 11:15 PM (#45677 - in reply to #45675)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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IanJ - 2011-09-04 8:00 AM Raffi: One of the links in your post refers to child abduction, not child adoption (I think). I think it's the abduction one which will enter into force in Oct 2011 (unfortunately not the adoption one).

Ian,

 

OOPS, OOPS - Abduction, Adoption.

They both start with an "A" and end with a "tion" (Maureen Lipman + late 80's + BT advert + You Got An Ology)

Please take this as it is meant.

 

 

Back to the real issue 

If it was me I would still pursue the issue that your missus is a Russian Citizen and that she has adopted children in her own country according to the laws of her country.

The reason that I say this is because all the references so far that I have come across always refer to a non Russia adopting a Russian child and it might just be that because your missus is a Russian citizen you might have found a loop-hole that will be able to circumvent the need for your missus to get the approval.

 

 Because this is a public forum I feel compelled to add.

I am not suggesting to anybody that they should not comply with the law, but if there is a legal loop hole that can be used to ones advantage then why not use that loop hole (as long as it is legal).

IanJ
Posted 2011-09-03 11:38 PM (#45678 - in reply to #45677)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
Raffi,

You got an ology - you're a scientist - yes, I remember it

I do agree that it's worth pursuing the line that because Olga is Russian, then this is a domestic Russian adoption.

In fact, that's what the director of PACT has previously advised us to do - but he is not an immigration expert - he runs a team of social workers. My only nervousness is that we need to ensure that we get the correct visa when entering the country, to ensure that the immigration officer sitting at his desk as we arrive in LHR sees it the same way! It's the "getting the correct visa" which relies on the understanding of the UKVAC agency in St P who deal with visa applications for the British Consulate.

Th UKBA website phrase which is most worrying is this one:
"Under the Adoptions with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005, it is now an offence for prospective adoptive parents to bring a child into the UK to adopt them, unless the adoptive parents have met all the legal requirements. The penalty for not following legal requirements is an unlimited fine or up to 12 months’ imprisonment (or both)."

One of those legal requirements is that I/we have been vetted by a social worker.

In a logical world you are right and we should try that route!

I may be sending my next post from Wormwood Scrubs

Regards,

Ian
Rasboinik
Posted 2011-09-04 12:58 AM (#45679 - in reply to #45678)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ian,

If you cannot get a satisfactory answer while you are in the UK, then ...........

 

You did say that you travel to SP quite regularly.

 

When in Russia contact the British Consulate in SP or the Embassy in Moscow when contacting the Embassy do not enquire about visa issues but about legal issues (hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

 

If it was me I would go to the Consulate/Embassy in person and request to speak with the person most qualified to assist me with a legal issue/problem.

When dealing with whom-ever it is that is qualified to assist I would word my question along the lines of:

"I require advice on a legal matter.

The issue is that my wife who is a Russian citizen who has adopted two Russian children in Russia.

Because of conflicting information I would like to know if I would be breaking the law if we arrived with the adopted children in the UK with a standard Entry Clearance?.

 

If they hit you with "Your wife will also require a visa" then you can counter that with the fact that your wife already has an ILR.

 

As a British citizen the Embassy staff are obliged to assist you.

It is my experience that at times you get faster and more efficient service when talking with British representatives abroad than when trying to navigate the bureaucracy in the UK.

If you get a favourable answer  then you are within your rights to request that the answer be given in writing.


Assuming that you get a favourable answer in writing then this issue will be a thing of past and you will not need to use the computers in Wormwood Scrubs
 
TonyH
Posted 2011-09-04 8:55 AM (#45681 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ian/Raffi I can't see a crack in the brick wall here other than the de facto route which will likely have very serious consequences for Olga's immigration status.

Ian some questions. Olga has ILR. When did she first arrive/visit the Uk ? How long has she recently spent in Russia ?

Have you tried to find out if Russia is likely to become a designated country or a Hague convention signatory anytime soon ? We knew they recently ratified the Hague convention on abduction as we discussed this a few weeks back. It only make sense that they are likely to do the same with adoption sooner rather than later.
IanJ
Posted 2011-09-04 12:30 PM (#45688 - in reply to #45681)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
I think even the "de facto" route may fall foul of the fact that we would not actually have been living in Russia together with Maxim and Daria for the necessary period.... and as you point out, it will damage Olga's case for British Citizenship if she stays outside the UK long-term.

In terms of being permanently in the UK, Olga was first here in July 2008.

I have found these links to a firm of lawyers who seem to have experience in this area:
http://www.osbornes.net/articles/russian-adoptions.aspx
http://www.osbornes.net/services/family-law/adoption/international-...


Whilst I'm fed up with useless immigration lawyers, these ones seem to deal exactly with our type of case - notice that they talk about adoption from Russia by Russians living in the UK.
I'll see if they will answer the remaining questions I have.

They also talk about possibility of Russia ratifying the Hague Convention - but give reasons why the Russians are not ratifying it, which look unlikely to change. The Russians will want to maintain control of their adoption system after the behaviour of some US adopters (e.g. the US woman who sent her child back alone on a plane to Russia, when she changed her mind about adopting!).
Rasboinik
Posted 2011-09-04 12:50 PM (#45690 - in reply to #45688)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ian,

 

It looks as if you might have come across a law firm that may be able to give you proper legal advise.

All that is left is to wish you good luck and success in solving your conundrum.

 

TonyH
Posted 2011-09-04 12:59 PM (#45693 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Ditto Ian but please keep us posted.

Please also don't loose sight of Olga's residency requirements during this period for her ILR status. She may just be eligible for citizenship too although I suspect the residency requirements for this would not be satisfied recently.
mart
Posted 2011-09-08 11:09 PM (#45909 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: RE: Adopted child visas for the UK
New User

Posts: 1

Hi Ian.
I am part way through a very similar situation but with Thailand rather than Russia. Also a 'non designated' country.
If you're in need of some advice, please let me know :-)
TonyH
Posted 2011-09-09 8:26 PM (#45913 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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There was an interesting program on BBC 2 last night call sairhs story. Adoption from Pakistan. But they went through the 8 month process BEFORE they adopted.
IanJ
Posted 2011-09-10 9:42 AM (#45918 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
Hello,

Yes, I watched the programme - mostly being thankful that my wife was not as frantic and manic as Saira from the Apprentice
Obviously we *should* have gone through the PACT process *before* adopting in Russia!

I have contacted a specialist lawyer, and their current thinking is that we can use a technicality of the definition of "domicile". There's a concept called "domicile of origin" which you never lose under UK law - i.e., Olga's domicile of origin is Russia. So Olga can claim to be habitually resident in the UK, whilst still considering Russia as her domicile of origin, and hence ruled by Russian local adoption laws, but still wanting to be joined by her children in the UK. The lawyer drew an analogy to Brits who go to work in another country for a substantial period, but always intend to return to the UK.

So we *should* be able to get a visa based on the children joining Olga in the UK, without any mention of adoption.

It's got a few extra complications, especially regarding the children's status in the UK in the short term, but we would be able to apply for me to adopt Maxim and Dasha after some reasonable period of time of being in the UK, and hence gain British citizenship.

Our case appears to be strengthened (ironically) by the fact that we still have a flat in St P, and so can claim substantial links back to Russia, whilst residing in the UK - I had to give a detailed chronology to the lawyer, at which point she suggested this route forward.

This is still a "work in progress", so I'll let you know of further developments.
TonyH
Posted 2011-09-10 11:44 AM (#45920 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK


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Location: South Leicestershire
This sounds good and a little like Raffi and I suggested in a roundabout way !!!

Good luck !!
IanJ
Posted 2011-09-10 2:11 PM (#45927 - in reply to #45909)
Subject: RE: Adopted child visas for the UK
Member

Posts: 23

Location: Cambridge
mart - 2011-09-08 11:09 PM

Hi Ian.
I am part way through a very similar situation but with Thailand rather than Russia. Also a 'non designated' country.
If you're in need of some advice, please let me know :-)




Hello,

I think Thailand has ratified the Hague Convention, which I believe makes it easier, even though Thailand is not a designated country. Would you be making an application under the Hague Convention?

Unfortunately Russia has not ratified the Hague Convention, and is unlikely to do so soon.

kirsty35
Posted 2011-10-07 8:58 PM (#46640 - in reply to #45656)
Subject: Re: Adopted child visas for the UK
New User

Posts: 1

Hi Mart,

I have been denied of entry clearance for my adopted child in the Philippines. I'm just wondering where you're at with your appication? You could probably give me some advice on how to move things forward.

Thanks
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