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International Student Visa Advice Team

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Your Family's Immigration Options

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Tier 4 Dependants

Who are 'dependants' under Tier 4?

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

  • husband or wife
  • civil partner (same sex relationships only)
  • unmarried or same sex partner (you must have lived together for at least two years).

You and your partner must be aged 18 or over on the date you are due to arrive in the UK

  • children aged under 18* (on the date you are going to arrive in the UK)

If you come to the UK without your child, it can be more difficult to bring them to the UK later. The Tier 4 rules state that you can only bring your child / children with you to the UK if your partner is also coming with you to the UK. This means that if your partner is going to stay outside the UK, your child /children cannot come with you.

The exceptions 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'.

Who can bring dependants?

 You can bring your dependants to the UK if

  • you are studying at postgraduate degree 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 have already been studying in the UK   your dependants will be able to continue to stay with you in the UK as long as you meet the following requirements:

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

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 ISVAT 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 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.

Babies born in the UK

 If you are pregnant or your partner is pregnant, you should seek advice from ISVAT about the implications for your visa in the UK.

Babies born in the UK are not automatically entitled to a British passport.  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.  Non-visa nationals are advised not to re-enter their baby as visitor as they will not be entitled to access NHS services without health insurance.

Your child will only be eligible for free NHS care until they are three months old.  At this point you will need to obtain a visa for them and pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Advice on applying for a Tier 4 Dependant visa for your baby can be found on the UKCISA website:

Babies born in the UK

How do my family apply?

If you have a Tier 4 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 are applying outside the UK or at separate times.

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 are on a pre-Tier 4 Student via the rules are different.  Read the guidance from UKCISA and then contact ISVAT for advice.

If your dependants apply at the same time as you and receive a refusal, your application may also be affected so it's important to get it as correct as possible.

Maintenance funds for your dependants

The immigration rules changed on the 24 November 2016.  Dependants of students studying in inner London are now required  to show £845 per month living costs up to a maximum of nine months dependent on they leave that will be granted.

For example:  PhD student has an extension of six months.  They will only be required to show six months or living costs. 

BUT

The dependant will need to show nine months living costs because they will be granted 10 months leave on their visa.

Your dependants will only be eligible for the lower "established presence" level of funds if you are applying for the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme. 

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 and explain how much money is allocated for the support of 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'. However, you must still prepare evidence of your finances for your dependants as it can be requested.   

How to apply for a Tier 4 visa for LSE

Can my dependants work in the UK?

Yes, if you are coming to study on a full time postgraduate degree programme at LSE for longer than 12 months your dependants are able to work. They can take any kind of employment and work full time.

Non-Tier 4 Dependants

What options do I have if my family are not eligible for the Tier 4 Dependant Visa?

If your family cannot come to the UK as your dependants under the rules, they may choose to come to the UK as Standard Visitors.  This would allow them to come to the UK for a maximum  of six months in any 12 month period. 

Visitors cannot do any work (paid or unpaid) and they cannot use the National Health Service (NHS) except in emergencies. 

We advise that your family to has private health insurance to cover their visits to the UK.

For details go to:

UK Visas and Immigration- Standard Visitors

Inviting your family/friends to visit you

If your family or friends will visit you in the UK during your studies, they may choose to come as a Standard Visitor.

You will need to provide them with a letter of invitation confirming that you are oinvititing them to visit you, where they will be staying and the potential length of the visit.  LSE is unable to provide a letter for your visitors' visa applications, but we can provide a Certificate of Registration which will confirm you are a registered student at LSE.

EEA Family Members

ISVAT specialise in the UK student immigration rules.  We are able to signpost you to information on EEA Family Member permission, but are unable to advise on the application process or the documentation required.

Further advice

UKCISA

Home Office

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