Can I bring my family?

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
  • civil partner
  • 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

How do my family apply?

From the 6 April 2015, your dependants will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge before applying for a PBS dependant visa. Further details can be found on the UKVI website.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is mandatory and failure to pay the correct amount may lead to a refusal of their visa. The surcharge costs £150 per year for dependants of students and is calculated on the basis of the length of leave granted. For example, dependants of a PhD student applying for a visa for the full length of the course will receive visa for four years and four months. Each dependant will be required to pay a surcharge of £675.

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 (£322).

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 (£865 from 12 November 2015) 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:

From the 12 November 2015, the lower, "established presence" level of living costs will be abolished for all dependants except those applying as the dependant of a Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme).

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.

We are aware that there may be potential changes in the working rights for dependants in Autumn 2015.  As yet these changes have not been publicised but are likely to affect the type of work that can be undertaken and who a dependant can be employed by.

Further advice

For new students applying for Tier 4 or students with Tier 4 visas:

UKCISA - your family's immigration

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