Family Visa (Dependants)

This information explains which family members can join a Tier 4 (General) / Student visa holder in the UK and how to apply from outside the UK.

Some family members may join you in the UK whilst you hold a Tier 4/Student visa, these are known as 'dependants' or 'PBS dependants'.

Only spouses (husband or wife), civil partners, unmarried partners and children under the age of 18 years can apply.

A civil partner is a same-sex partner with who you have entered into a legally recognised relationship.

An unmarried partner is someone that you have been in a relationship with akin to marriage, usually for two years or more.

Only some Tier 4 / Student visa holders can invite their family members to join them, your family can join you:

  • If you are a postgraduate student studying a full-time course of at least 9 months, OR
  • If you are a new goverment-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months, OR
  • Your current or most recent visa was a Student visa on a full-time course lasting at least 6 months and ALL the following apply:
    • The visa is still valid or expired within 3 months of the visa application being made 
    • You have or last held a Tier 4 / Student visa or old-style student visa, and
    • The family member
      • has or most recently had leave as a dependant of a Tier 4/Student visa holder, or a Tier 4/Student visa themselves, or
      • is your child who was born since you were last granted permission, AND
    • You and your family are applying for visas together, and

Children will only be eligible if both parents are coming to the UK. If your child is applying to come to the UK as your Student dependant for the first time, they must be younger than 18 years old when they apply.

If only one parent is intending to enter the UK, the child can enter the UK only if:

  • The student is the child's sole surviving parent, or
  • The student has and has had sole responsibility for the child's upbringing, or
  • There are serious or compelling reasons for the child to join the parent in the UK.

If you have had a child born in the UK, please see our information below relating to their visa status.

A current Tier 4/Student visa holder can switch to a PBS dependant visa from within the UK if their partner also holds a Tier 4/Student visa. However, the above requirements must still be met. 

If you are looking for information on dependant applications in employment categories, please see 'Working after your studies'.

How to apply

The application must be made online and your dependant will need to visit a UK Visa Application Centre in their country of residence. You cannot make this application for them in the UK.

Each dependant must complete the online application form. To apply, visit the UK government website and scroll down to the section "dependants applying outside the UK". Then select the link to 'apply online' and select the relevant visa type, either "partner" or "child".

The fee for each application is £490.

Each dependant will also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Standard visa applications made outside the UK should be processed within 15 working days from the date of appointment at the visa application centre.

Documents you will need

Your dependants should include:

  • Their own passport(s)
  • A copy of your passport photo page & visa
  • A marriage certificate for your spouse or evidence of a 'genuine and subsisting relationship' for unmarried partners. Please ask the IAG team for further information regarding this. 
  • Birth certificates for your children listing you as a parent
  • A letter from yourself inviting your dependants to join you 
  • Bank statements from you or your dependant for the last 28 days, and/or
  • A letter from your Financial Sponsor (if they are supporting your dependants).
  • They will need to know your course details and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies' (CAS) number. 

The following are not necessary but may help your dependant’s application:

  • Your tenancy agreement
  • A letter from your landlord or accommodation provider.

Money they will need

Your dependant will need to show that they have living costs of £680 per month for a number of months, this is in addition to the money you must have to support yourself. This means:

  • For each of your dependants, you will need to show £680 for a maximum of 9 months, totalling either £6,120
  • The amount of living costs must be held for 28 days before the application is made. The account must not have dropped below the amount required at any time during the 28 day period.
  • If you are funded by a Financial Sponsor and they are willing to provide funds for your dependants, evidence of this in a Financial Sponsor Letter can be provided instead of bank statements.

You will be required to show the monthly amount for each month of the main applicant's visa to a maximum of nine months. 

Visa conditions

Your dependants must live with you in the UK.

They will not be able to access any public funds, including (but not limited to) Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

The length of their visas will be equivalent to the Tier 4 (General)/Student visa you hold.

Your dependants will be able to study and can switch their visa to that of a student from inside the UK. Please seek further advice on this from International Advice and Guidance.

They will be eligible for free health services too, provided your course is longer than six months.

Working in the UK

Your spouse/partner will be permitted to work if you were given a visa for 12 months or longer. If your visa was given for between six and 12 months, they will not be permitted to work.

Your spouse/partner will need to obtain a National Insurance Number for tax and National Insurance to be taken from any earnings. They can apply for a National Insurance number while looking for work. 

Children in the UK

If your child is of compulsory school age (five to 16 years) they are eligible to attend state-funded school. Contact your Local Education Authority to enrol your child.

If your child is not of school age you must make adequate arrangements for childcare if your partner intends to work. International Advice and Guidance recommends making enquiries regarding childcare before bringing your child to the UK as it is expensive and difficult to secure. For details on finding childcare, please visit the Liverpool Council's website.

The university has limited places in its Children’s Centre.

Babies born in the UK

If you have a child born in the UK during your studies, they do not require a visa to remain here. However, the child would require a visa if they were to leave the UK and then wished to return.

A baby or young child is able to apply for a visa if:

  • If you are a postgraduate student studying a course of at least 12 months, or a government-sponsored student studying a course over six months long.
  • If these criteria do not apply, there are additional provisions that allow the child to apply outside the UK. These provisions are:
    • That the baby must have been born during the student’s most recent student visa, which was granted for a course of over six months, or
    • The baby was born within three months of the student’s most recent visa expiring.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has lots of information on their website regarding babies born in the UK


Students and their dependants are encouraged to read information on the Home Office Website and look at further information on UKCISA's website on dependants. 


Speak to a International Advice and Guidance advisor

If you are unable to find an answer to your query on our web pages email or book an online confidential one-one appointment.