Bringing your family to the UK as dependants

Tier 4 visa regulations are quite strict as to which students can bring their dependants to the UK and who those dependants are designated to be.

Which Tier 4 students can bring dependants to the UK?

Family members can join, or travel with, you as your dependant in the UK if:

  • You are government-sponsored and your course is over six months long OR
  • You are doing a postgraduate level course that is 12 months or longer at a Higher Education Institution

OR (for students who are currently or have recently been studying in the UK only)

  • You had Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4 student leave for your previous course where the course was over six months long AND
    • your permission is current or expired no more than three months before this immigration application AND
    • your new immigration application is for a course over six months long AND
    • your dependants already have Tier 4 dependant or “student” dependant leave AND
    • you apply for immigration permission at the same time as your dependant

Who are considered as dependants?

A Tier 4 student’s dependants (known as family members) can be:

  • husband
  • wife
  • civil partner
  • unmarried or same sex partner (you need to have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for a period of at least two years. You will need to provide evidence of this.)
  • child (under the age of 18 when they first applied)

Please note that a child will not be granted a dependant visa unless both parents are going to be living in the UK for the full duration of the Tier 4 visa. Applications for children to stay in the UK with one parent will fall for refusal (unless they are part of a single parent family and the UKVI will expect significant evidence around this). The exception to this is where one parent is applying for leave and the other is already in the UK with their own immigration.

How long with my dependants be allowed to stay in the UK for?

The dependants of international students are normally given permission to remain in the UK for the same period as the student.

Applying for Leave to Remain as the dependant of a Tier 4 student

If your dependant is already in the UK and wishes to extend or switch into the dependant category, contact the University’s Immigration & International Student Advice team for support. They will help you to check whether the application is possible and offer you further guidance around what you need to do. Please note that the only document that you will need from the University is a Student Status Letter and this can be requested via your Advice Zone or, if you are a research/PHD student, by emailing the Graduate Research Office. Please also see the entry clearance guidance below as it contains information about how to apply (online) and what else you need to prepare. The maintenance requirements etc. are the same for an in UK or overseas application.The UK visa application fee is also the same as a Tier 4 visa application and is currently £457 per dependant.

Applying for Entry Clearance as the dependant of a Tier 4 student

Unless they are applying from North Korea, your family members must apply online. A fresh application form must be completed for each dependant. The visa fee (this fee is per dependant the same as the same cost as charged for a Tier 4 visa application and is currently £335) and Immigration Health Surcharge (also charged per person at the same rates as Tier 4 students please see link for details) will also need to be paid at point of online application. This payment can be via Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card.

They will also need to meet independent maintenance requirements, this is currently at a cost of £680 per month of the Tier 4 course up to a maximum of 9 months. Normally this is £6120 per dependant. This money must be in your bank account/their bank account or your (the Tier 4 visa applicant’s) parents bank account. If you are receiving a government scholarship which covers your dependants, there names and the additional amount you are receiving to cover them must be mentioned on your scholarship letter. See further information on document requirements and examples.

They will need to have their fingerprints and photographs (known as ‘biometric information’) taken and their original documents checked at a visa application centre as part of their application. This will be at the same time as you if you are all applying together.

If they are applying from North Korea, they must apply using the paper application form VAF10- PBS Dependant. This form can be downloaded from the Home Office website. Applicants from these countries should also refer to the 'PBS Dependant Guidance Notes’ and 'Guide to Supporting Documents’ that are available on the same web page when completing the form.

The length of time in which applications are processed varies and you can check current visa processing times on the Gov.UK website

Can my dependant work/study?

Your dependant may take up employment as long as your visa is for 12 months or more. They can usually work for unrestricted hours but check their visa, once it is with you, to verify that there are no restrictions.

Your dependant can undertake study whilst in the UK. It is important to note that if they undertake a postgraduate course in some science or engineering fields, they may be required to get permission under the Academic Technology Approval Scheme before they can enrol.

Your dependants may also be required to register with UK Police. Please check the University information about Police Registration to see whether this is necessary and the process around it.

Useful links