Student Immigration Service

Bringing your family

If you are coming to study in the UK as a Tier 4 student you may wish to bring family with you. Certain students are permitted to bring family members to the UK as dependants. This page gives information that you will need before you apply, 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 nine months or more

Undergraduate students who are not government-sponsored cannot bring dependants.

Which 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 the UK. However, if they travel outside the UK they will need a visa to re-enter.

Please note that, if your child is more than 3 months old and you travel outside of Scotland with them before they have a visa, you might be charged for any NHS treatment they receive in other parts of the UK.

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.   If you are dependant who intends to study in the UK, 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

Non-EEA family members of EEA nationals can continue to come to the UK.  Their right to reside, study or work has not yet been affected by the outcome of the EU referendum (i.e. Brexit).

We do not yet know exactly what the future implications for residency will be for EEA nationals and their family members who wish to come to, or remain in, the UK to study after the UK leaves the EU on 30 March 2019.

We will post further information on the status of family members of EEA nationals as soon as it becomes available. 

In the meantime, 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

More information for EEA nationals and family members

Application process

When should my dependants apply?

Your dependants must apply for a visa either at the same time as you or once you have already been granted a Tier 4 visa.

If your dependants are outside the UK they can apply up to 3 months before your programme start date, or up to 3 months before their intended date of travel to the UK (whichever is later).

If you are making an application to extend or switch your Tier 4 visa in the UK, your dependants must either apply at the same time as you, or wait until your new leave has been granted.  They must also apply before their current visa expires.

Please note that if your dependant has immigration permission to be in the UK as a Tier 4 student, a visitor or a short-term student they cannot switch to a dependant visa within the UK and will instead need to return home to make their application.

What documents are required?

You can find full details of the evidence your dependants will need to provide in our document checklist:

Document checklist for PBS Dependants 

Differentiation arrangements

In some circumstances your dependants might qualify for “differentiation arrangements”, either because the Home Office considers them a “low-risk” applicant or because you are eligible for the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme.

Your dependant will be considered a low-risk applicant if:

  • You are a Tier 4 student
  • They are applying for their visa at the same time and in the same location as you
  • You and your dependant are both nationals of one of the countries listed in Appendix H of the Immigration Rules

Appendix H of the Immigration Rules

Your dependant will also qualify for the differentiation arrangements if you are eligible for the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme

TIier 4 Pilot Scheme FAQs

They must still meet the same financial requirements, but they do not have to provide any evidence of this with their application.  They will still have to provide all other documents. 

We strongly recommend that they still obtain evidence that they meet the financial requirements, even though they do not need to submit it. This is because the Home Office can ask them for it at any point while they are processing the application and usually only allow a short time (a few days) in which to provide it.

How to 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. Complete the online application form. 

The form you need to use will depend on whether you are applying as the same time as your dependant or not.

Your and your dependants are applying together 

The form will ak if you want to add dependants to the application. 

Your dependants are applying after your visa has been granted

Additional children can be added at the end of the dependant partner application. 

You are applying for your child only

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 us:

Contact us

2. Pay for the visa fee and Immigration Health Surcharge

You can find information about the different services available and the relevant fees here:

Tier 4 Family Members - UK Government website

Immigration Health Surcharge calculator

The date of the application is the date the visa application fee is paid online.


3.  Upload your supporting documents to your online application.

You can do this yourself or pay an additional fee to have them scanned and uploaded during your visa appointment.

Document checklist for PBS Dependants

3. Provide your biometric information (digital fingerprints and photograph) at a UKVCAS centre

You will need to book an appointment at a UK Visas and Citizenship Application Service centre as part of the online application.

You should bring all of your supporting documents to your appointment (even if you have already uploaded them yourself).

Find out more about UK Visas and Citizenship Application Services

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. In most countries you will submit your supporting documents during your visa appointment.

In the United States you should post them to the Visa Processing Office after you have provided your biometric information.

Information for applicants in the USA


Family Members Visiting You

Your family members (including those not eligible for a dependant visa) can visit you for a short period of time while you’re in the UK. They would need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa online.

Standard Visitor Visa

Guide to supporting documents