I'm facing a question in a legal document that asks

Do you currently have a valid visa or leave to remain as a dependant of a migrant?

To which of the parts should I associate "as a dependant of a migrant"? I mean, does this mean:

Do you currently have a valid "visa" or "leave to remain as a dependant of a migrant"?


Do you currently have a valid "visa [as a dependant of a migrant]" or "leave to remain as a dependant of a migrant"?

This is confusing me, and indeed the answer is very important as they are only Yes or No. Thanks for your help.

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    IANAL, but it seems likely to me that since leave here means permission, you're being asked if you have EITHER a valid visa OR permission to remain. If you actually have a visa, that automatically means you have permission to remain - the other possibility is that you've been classified as "a dependant of a migrant", and have been granted permission to remain because of that. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 18 at 14:49
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    You might like to ask this on the travel stack (travel.stackexchange.com) as there are people there who are expert in visas. You would need to tell them which country you are applying to and what your nationality is. If you are planning to move permanently then you would need the Expatriates stack instead. – mdewey Sep 18 at 16:14

I'm afraid that there is absolutely no way in the English language to decide between those interpretations.

It is possible that in legal usage (or past judgments) there is a ruling which will tell you which meaning is intended, but you will need to ask a lawyer about that.

It is also possible that knowledge of such documents will resolve the ambiguity (eg if there is no kind of visa that has reference to being a dependent) but again, you will need to consult knowledgeable sources on that question.

But purely linguistically, the sentence is fundamentally ambiguous.

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  • Thanks for your answer @Colin Fine. That was really helpful. Now I have to consult with a lawyer. I feel disappointed because in principle such online forms are designed for people to complete by themselves. – Farid Shahandeh Sep 18 at 13:39
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    While I fully accept Colin's interpretation, I don't doubt that you are being asked in practice whether you have one of two things, either a valid visa or leave to remain as a dependent of a migrant. – Ronald Sole Sep 18 at 14:17

I agree with Monica's comment above, it's my answer basically--

Of course, I can't give legal advice, but I can interpret the language. My first impression is that this asks if you are legally entitled to reside there, because either of these is true:

  1. You have a valid visa. OR
  2. You have leave (permission) to remain (stay as a resident) as (because you are) a dependent of a migrant.

So your answer should be "Yes" if either of the statements above is true.

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    I agree that this is the most likely interpretation. I think that advising a questioner on the probable meaning of a formally ambiguous statement with legal import is unwise. – Colin Fine Sep 18 at 22:22

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