Rules for your dependants in the UK

Seek advice

If you or your dependants are already in the UK and you are thinking about applying to extend your stay or travel and apply from home or switch immigration categories, it is important that you seek advice first. The rules are complex and the decisions you make can affect your future immigration status in the UK. 

Who are 'dependants' under Tier 4?

Under the Tier 4 immigration rules your 'dependants' means:

  • you husband or wife
  • civil partner (your same sex partner in a relationship that has been formally or legally registered in the UK or another country) 
  • your unmarried or same sex partner, with whom you have lived for at least two years)
  • your child who is aged under 18 on the date you will arrive in the UK

Who can bring dependants?

If you want to bring your family to the UK for the first time, you can bring them if:

  • you are studying at postgraduate level for twelve months or more, or
  • you are fully sponsored by your government for a programme of study longer than six months

If you meet these requirements, you or your dependants can apply outside the UK at the same time as you or separately.

If you are studying on a course which is below degree level, or which you are studying for less than twelve months, or you are government sponsored for a course of six months or less, your dependants cannot join you in the UK as your Tier 4 dependants.

Family members already in the UK

If you meet the Tier 4 rules to bring dependants:

  • you are studying at postgraduate level for twelve months or more, or
  • you are fully sponsored by your government for a programme of study longer than six months

and your family are already in the UK as your Tier 4 dependants, they can apply to continue to stay in the UK with you.  They can apply inside the UK before their visa expires (this date should match your visa end date) or they can apply outside the UK. Contact ISIS for further advice on your options.

If your family are in the UK with different immigration permission, they can become your Tier 4 dependant.  As long as they are not in the UK with permission as a visitor or have 'temporary admission' or 'temporary release', they can apply inside the UK.

If you don't meet the Tier 4 rules to bring dependants
If your dependants are already with you and you do not meet the requirements above, but you have already been studying in the UK on a programme that is longer than six months, the rules state that they can continue to stay with you in the UK if:

  • you have a Tier 4 (General) Student visa or Student Visa
  • your current visa is for a programme of study longer than six months
  • your visa has not yet expired or it expired less than three months ago*
  • you and your family apply together (if you are not applying, your dependants have to apply from outside the UK)
  • you are applying for a programme of study longer than six months
  • your family member currently has or had permission (within the last three months) as your dependant

* but the rules also state that you cannot submit an application in the UK if you have overstayed beyond the end date of your visa for more than 28 days.  We advise you to always apply before your current visa expires.

Additional rules for child dependants

The Tier 4 rules state that you can only bring your child / children with you to the UK if  both parents are going to be in the UK. This means that if your partner is going to stay outside the UK, your child /children cannot join you.

The exception to this is if you are:

  • the only parent or
  • you have 'sole responsibility' for your child / children or
  • there are serious compelling reasons which mean you and your partner cannot come to live together in the UK

The rules also state that to qualify as a 'child' they must 'not be living an independent life'.  Read the PBS dependant's guidance for further details.

See below for guidance on babies born in the UK.

How do my family apply?

If you have a Tier 4 (General) Student visa, your dependants apply as 'dependant of a Points Based System migrant'. Each dependant completes a separate application form and pays a separate fee.  If you apply in the UK at the same time, the fee is lower.

The Dependants of a PBS migrant application form is available as an online form. If your dependants are applying at the same time as you, their form will be combined with your application.  If they are applying separately, you will need to complete a form for each dependant.

Home Office website|

If you have been in the UK since before 31 March 2009 the rules are different.  Read the guidance from UKCISA and then contact ISIS for advice.

UKCISA - pre-Tier 4 students with dependants|

Maintenance funds for your dependants

As well as your own maintenance funds, you need to show an additional £615  for each dependant for each month that you are applying for up to a maximum 9 months' maintenance funds.

If you have a scholarship and it is intended to cover costs for your family, you can use the scholarship to cover the maintenance funds for your dependants. The scholarship letter must state that funds are also intended for your dependants.

It is important that you and your dependants all show sufficient funds. If there are insufficient funds for all applicants, even if you have enough money to cover your costs, all applications will be refused.

If your dependant is a 'low risk'  national, they can benefit from 'differentiation arrangements'.  Refer to our guidance for current students for details:

Applying for Tier 4 - current students|

Babies born in the UK

If you are pregnant or your partner is pregnant, we strongly advise you seek advice from ISIS about the implications for your immigration status in the UK. 

If you or your partner have a baby in the UK, you do not need to apply for immigration permission for the baby unless your baby needs to re-enter the UK after travel. 

If you are in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student, you can apply inside the UK for your baby if you meet the following requirements:

  • you are sponsored by your government to study on a programme longer than six months
  • you are studying on a programme at postgraduate level and for twelve months or more

If you don't meet the requirements above, you can apply outside the UK only if you meet the following requirements:

  • your baby was born during your current Tier 4 visa or a pre-Tier 4 visa for a programme longer than six months, or
  • your baby was born while you had a visa to resit exams (not Tier 4)
  • your baby was born no more than three months after your visa expired

Contact ISIS

See the link on the right hand side of the page.

Further advice

For students with Tier 4 visas:
UKCISA - guidance on 'your family'  |

For students with pre-Tier 4 visas:
UKCISA - your family's immigration if you don't have Tier 4
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Home Office|


 

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