Bringing your family

If you are coming to study in the UK as a Tier 4 student you may wish to bring your family with you. Certain students are permitted to bring family members to the UK as their dependants. This page gives you information that you will need before you apply, details of the application process, and information on family members visiting you.

Before you apply

Who can bring dependants?

You can bring dependants to the UK if:

  • You are a government sponsored student who is studying a full time programme of more than six months in duration; or
  • You are a postgraduate student studying a full time programme of 12 months or more

Undergraduate students who are not government-sponsored or students who are studying on a part time basis cannot bring dependants.  

What family members can come as my dependants?

You can bring  the following to the UK as your dependants:

  • Your spouse
  • Your civil partner
  • Your unmarried partner (provided you have been living together for at least 2 consecutive years) 
  • Your children

Child dependants must be either:

  • Under 18 years old; OR
  • Already hold permission to live in the UK as your dependant child

Other family members, such as your parents or siblings, cannot come to the UK as your dependants.  

Children born in the UK

Even if born in the UK, your baby does not have automatic rights to British citizenship. To be classed as a British national he or she must have a parent with British citizenship or settled status in the UK.

Your baby won’t need a visa while he or she remains in Scotland. However, once they’ve left the UK they will need a visa to re-enter.

If you are applying inside the UK, the form you need to use will depend on whether you are applying as the same time as your baby or not. The application form will ask if you want to add a dependant child (your baby) to the application:

You are applying at the same time as your baby

You are applying for your baby only

If you are applying from your home country, you will need to use the Visa4UK portal online form. You should choose the following options:

  • Reason for visit: Study
  • Visa type: PBS Tier 4 student
  • Visa Subtype: Tier 4 (general) dependant child

Visa4uk portal

Please note that, if you intend to travel outside of Scotland with your child before they have a visa, you might be charged for any NHS treatment your child receives.  

Can my dependants work and study in the UK?

Any dependants who are over 16 years old will be able to work full time in the UK. There are no restrictions on the type of work they can do except:

  • No work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • No work as a professional sportsperson or coach

There are no restrictions on study for Tier 4 dependants. You should note that if you are studying on a programme that requires ATAS clearance you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can commence your programme.

Do I need ATAS?  

Are there any other conditions of the dependant visa?

Dependants have no access to public funds, which means that they cannot claim social benefits from the state, such as unemployment benefit or housing benefit.

Certain nationalities who have a visa for more than six months must register with the Police.

Find out more about Police Registration  

EEA Family Members

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national but you are a family member of an EEA or Swiss national, then you may wish to consider obtaining an EEA Family Permit to allow you to come to the UK.

EEA Family Permit  

Application process

What are the requirements for the visa?

In order for your family to apply for a dependant visa, you must already have a Tier 4 visa, or apply at the same time as them.

Unmarried partners will need to prove that they have been living in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years. You can show this through, for example, tenancy agreements, joint bank statements, utility bills showing that you have been living at the same address.

If you would like your child to come to the UK as your dependant, you should note that the Immigration Rules state that both of the child’s parents must be present in the UK, unless:

  • You are the sole surviving parent; or
  • You have and have had sole responsibility for the child's upbringing; or
  • There are serious or compelling family or other reasons which would make it desirable not to refuse the application and suitable arrangements have been made in the UK for the child’s care

How do I apply?

Applying in the UK

If you are making a visa application to amend or change your current visa in the UK, your dependants must apply at the same time as you.

Follow these steps:

1. Make the application online and pay the Immigration Health Surcharge

Immigration Health Surcharge

Tier 4 Family Members - UK Government website

Please note that we offer a visa application checking service - if you decide to attend this, please ensure you have chosen an appointment that is for an applicant with dependants.

To find out more about this service, please contact the Immigration team:

Contact Immigration

2. Post your documents to the Home Office, or bring them to your premium appointment

Find out about premium service centres:

Premium service centres

3. Provide your biometric information (digital fingerprints and photograph) at the Post Office, or at the Premium Service Centre

Please note that if your dependant has immigration permission to be in the UK as a visitor or short-term student they will need to return home to apply for their Tier 4 dependant visa.

Applying outside of the UK

Follow these steps:

1. Make the application online and pay the Immigration Health Surcharge


Immigration Health Surcharge

Government Visa Website

2. Book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre to provide your biometric information, and attend an interview if necessary

Find a visa application centre


3. Post your documents to the Embassy

What documents do I need for a Tier 4 visa dependant application? Use our checklist:

Family Members Visiting You

Your family members can visit you for a short period of time while you’re in the UK. They would need to apply for a General Visitor visa online.

Standard Visitor Visa

Guide to supporting documents

Where can I find more information about bringing my dependants to the UK?

Find out more about life in the UK for your dependants, including about healthcare and schools, on the International Student Advisory Service website.

International Student Advisory Service