The rules for dependants are complex and this page is a brief summary. Please follow the links for further details and contact ISIS for advice if you have further questions.
Who are 'dependants'?
Under the Tier 4 immigration rules your 'dependants' are:
husband or wife
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)
* Important note on children
It is very important that you understand the rules for dependants before you apply to come to 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 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'.
Who can bring dependants?
If you are a new student to the UK and
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
you can bring your dependants to the UK with you.
If you are studying on a course below postgraduate degree level or studying for less than twelve months, you cannot bring your dependants with you to the UK. See below for guidance on bringing your family to the UK as Visitors.
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 or 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
The UK Council for International Students Association, UKCISA has created a useful tool you can use to check if you are able to bring dependants with you to the UK. It is only for students who are about to apply for Tier 4 or students who already have Tier 4 visas:
UKCISA Guide for Tier 4 Family
How do my family apply?
If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa, your dependants apply as 'dependant of a Points Based System Migrant'. Each dependant completes a separate application form and pays a separate fee (£310).
For your family members to apply, they must:
apply at the same time as you (or they can apply after you have been granted a Tier 4 Student visa)
intend to live with you in the UK
intend to leave the UK at the same time as you
For detailed guidance and to download the application forms, go to:
UK Visas and Immigration- partners and children of migrant workers and students
How much money do we need?
First time applicants:
As well as money for your own living costs - your 'maintenance funds', you need to show an additional £615 for each dependant for each month that you are applying for up to a maximum of £5,535 per dependant - this is up to 9 months' maintenance funds.
If you have official financial sponsorship - for example a government scholarship (check our guidance on applying for Tier 4 for details on the definition of an official financial sponsorship) 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.
Please note that LSE Scholarships do not include any maintenance costs for dependents - they are intended to support your study only.
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 you have recently studied in the UK:
If you have an 'established presence' in the UK, your dependants only need to show maintenance funds for two months. To check the established presence rules for students check our guidance for applying for Tier 4.
The Dependants Policy Guidance is not clearly worded on this and so we advise you to only show the lower maintenance if you are applying at the same time as your family.
Points Based System (Dependants) - Policy Guidance [pdf]
This also lists the kind of documents that you can use to apply.
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.
For new students applying for Tier 4 or students with Tier 4 visas:
UKCISA - your family's immigration
For students who were in the UK under the 'old' rules (before March 30 2009)
UKCISA - your family's immigration if you do not have Tier 4
Bringing your family to the UK as Visitors
If your family cannot come to the UK as your dependants under the rules, they may choose to come to the UK as General Visitors. This would allow them to come to the UK for a maximum of six months. It is not usually possible to stay in the UK as a Visitor for longer than 6 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. It would be advisable for your family to have private health insurance to cover their stay in the UK.
For details go to:
UK Visas and Immigration- General Visitors