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Dependants of Student visa holders

Section 2: Am I eligible to bring my family members to the UK as Dependants?

Students joining courses after 1 January 2024 can only bring dependants if they are government sponsored, studying PhD/other doctoral quals/research-based higher degree. Dependants already in the UK can continue to extend.

A research based degree is defined by UKVI as a postgraduate programme comprising a research component (including a requirement to produce original work) that is larger than any accompanying taught component when measured by student effort.  

UKVI have also clarified that those starting a taught postgraduate course before 01 January 2024 will still be able to have dependants join them after January 2024 (where the other requirements of the rules are met). 

Under the current immigration rules for courses starting before 1 January 2024, your dependants can apply for immigration permission as your Student Dependant to join or remain with you only if:

  • you are government-sponsored and your course is longer than six months,


  • you are doing a postgraduate level course of 9 months or longer at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance (this is Warwick) or a 'UK recognised body',


  • your current or most recent immigration permission is/was as a Student (or Tier 4 Student) Visa on a course longer than six months AND all 4 points below apply:
  1. your permission is current or has expired no more than three months before this immigration application AND
  2. your new immigration application is for a course that is longer than six months AND
  3. your dependant already has Student Dependant or Tier 4 Dependant immigration permission (or it is the most recent immigration permission that they had, and it expired no more than three months before this application) AND
  4. you apply for immigration permission at the same time as your dependant

Section 3: Which family members can I bring to the UK as my Student Dependants?

The only family members who can make applications as Student Dependants are partners and children.

Your partner can be the following:

  • your husband or wife
  • your civil partner (civil partners are same-sex couples who have registered their partnership, to gain formal legal recognition of their relationship)
  • an unmarried partner or same sex partner (you must be able to evidence that you have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years)

Your partner must be at least 18 years old when they arrive in the UK, you must intend to live together for the duration of your studies and they must intend to leave the UK at the same time as you (unless they switch into another UK immigration category and are granted longer leave than you as a result).

Children must be:

  • aged under 18 OR
  • aged 18 or over only if they are already in the UK with immigration permission as your dependant child. If your current immigration permission is not permission granted under the Points Based System, you must apply at the same time as your child for leave to remain under the Student Visa route.

Any other family members who wish to join you in the UK will need to obtain alternative UK immigration permission such as a Standard Visitor Visa.

Please be aware that if your partner or child joins you in the UK on a Visit Visa, they will not be able to switch into the Dependant route from inside the UK.

Section 4: Can my child(ren) come to the UK as my Dependant(s) while their other parent stays overseas?

It is usually expected that both parents should be present in the UK, except in very exceptional circumstances, or where one one sole parent remains.

If both parents are not present in the UK together, you should provide a cover letter detailing more information about your family circumstance, with additional supporting evidence if appropriate, such as childcare arrangements. It will then be for the caseworker to apply their discretion when deciding whether to grant leave.

If you are no longer in a relationship with the other parent of your child(ren) then your former partner will need to provide their consent for the child(ren) making a Student Dependant visa application.

Section 5: Does a baby born in the UK need to apply for Student Dependant leave?

It is not necessary for a baby born in the UK to apply for a visa unless they intend to leave the UK and re-enter, in which case the baby must have valid immigration permission to re-enter the UK. Therefore, you will be required to apply for student dependant visa for the baby from overseas, be granted and then travel to the UK with a valid visa

However, if you have recently given birth or are due to give birth to a baby in the UK, then please be aware that their access to secondary health care (specialised hospital treatment) in the UK has now changed. From the date of the baby’s birth, they are entitled to three months free access to secondary NHS health care. Once they are three months old, they must pay for any secondary health care they may need.

Your baby can only access secondary healthcare by submitting a visa application.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you submit a visa application for the baby as soon as possible after they are born. This is so that the IHS surcharge payment can be made at the time of application, entitling the baby to access any NHS care that they may need after they are three months old.

Section 6: What are the application requirements for a Student Dependant?

The application requirements differ slightly depending on whether the application is being made inside the UK or from overseas. This is covered in greater detail on our How To Apply webpage.

In addition to having completed the appropriate online visa application, each applicant will need to provide the following:


A valid passport or travel document for each applicant.

Biometric Residence Permit

If your Dependant applicants have been granted previous UK leave then they will need to provide their BRP(s).

Valid TB certificate

If a Dependant is applying outside the UK and coming to the UK for longer than 6 months and you are resident in any of the countries listed in the following on the UKVI website.

They will not need a TB certificate if they have lived for at least 6 months in a country where TB screening is not required by the UK and they have not been been away from that country for more than 6 months.

Evidence of their relationship to you, the Student

If you, the Student Visa holder, have a spouse or partner applying to become your Dependant for the first time you will need to provide evidence of your relationship: if you are married/in a civil partnership, this will be your marriage certificate or other evidence of your official union. If you are not married/in a civil partnership but have been together as a couple in a relationship akin to marriage for more than two years, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship over a period of time. This might include documents which show that you lived at the same address, such as bank statements, tenancy agreements, etc.

If your spouse has already provided evidence of your relationship in a previous Dependant application they will not normally be required to provide this again but will need to show that you are still together and living at the same address by providing documents which show you are both residing in the same property, eg. bank statements, tenancy agreements, etc.

If you, the Student Visa holder, have a child applying to become your Dependant for the first time you will need to provide their birth certificate. You should not need to provide this for any child who has previously been granted leave as your Dependant.

If you have a child applying for Dependant leave for the first time who will be over 16 years of age when then submit their application, please contact the Immigration Service for further advice.

Evidence of their English Language ability

Dependant applicants do not need to provide any evidence of their English Language competency.

Evidence of finances

Unless you qualify for the UKVI differentiation agreement, each Dependant applicant will need to evidence maintenance of £680 per month up to a maximum of nine months. This can be in a bank account in the Dependant's name, or a joint bank account shared with the Student.

If the Student Visa holder is in receipt of financial sponsorship which also covers their Dependant family members then an official letter from the sponsor which names the Dependant family members can be used to evidence their maintenance requirement. If the sponsorship does not cover the full amount of maintenance, you will need to evidence the balance. For example, if your sponsor will pay £500 a month towards your spouse's maintenance, you will need to show the remaining £180 a month to meet the UKVI requirement.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Each Dependant family member will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is charged at £470 per applicant for each12 month period, or £235 for 6 months or less. Periods between 6 and 12 months are charged at the full year rate.

For more information, please visit the UKVI website

This information is being updated following immigration rules changes on 17th July 2023.

It is possible to switch to the 'Student Dependant' category if

  • you are currently in the UK under another dependant category under the Points Based System OR your current leave is 'Student Dependant' under the old rules OR
  • your current leave is not any of the following:
  1. Visitor
  2. Short Term Student
  3. Parent of a Tier 4/Student child
  4. Temporary admission or temporary release in the UK

It means, for example, that it is possible to apply as a Student Dependant after having been in the UK with Tier 4, Student Visa or other types of leave, without having to leave the UK to apply for entry clearance.

Please note that a change to the Immigration Rules in October 2020 mean that it is now possible to switch from Tier 4 Dependant/Student Dependant leave into the Student Route while inside the UK; this was previously not possible.

If you will apply to the Graduate Route

You can have family members as your Graduate Route Dependants, however, they must already have been granted leave as your Student Dependant at the time you apply to the Graduate Route and you must apply together; they cannot switch to be your Dependant after you have been granted a Graduate Route visa. For more information, click here.

If approved, Dependant family members will be granted a visa valid for the same period as the Student Visa holder.

Dependant spouses are not restricted by the number of hours they can work or the type of employment they can undertake, although they are not permitted to train as a doctor or dentist and have no recourse to public funds.

Section 9: What happens if my relationship with my Dependant partner breaks down?

If you divorce or separate after a Dependent visa has been granted to your partner and the Dependant has travelled to the UK, or they are already inside the UK, you must inform the Home Office:

If you have been granted Dependant leave and your relationship to the Student Visa holder has broken down, you may need to switch into another immigration category in order to stay in the UK. Please contact the Immigration Service for further advice.

Section 10: If you have further queries and useful links:

If, after reading the guidance above, and you are still unsure of what you should do next, please contact Student Immigration to discuss your situation via the following methods:

    Please click on the following links for more information

    University of Warwick:

    UK Government:

    Other contacts:

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