Dependants

Last modified: 04 February 2016

Some Tier 4 (General) students can have family with them in the UK as their dependants. To find out who counts as a dependant, check 'Who is a dependant?'

You can have dependants with you in the UK if:

  1. You are government-sponsored and your course is longer than six months OR
  2. You are doing a postgraduate level course of 12 months or longer at a publicly-funded Higher Education Institution or a 'UK recognised body' (see 'Definitions') OR
  3. Your current or most recent immigration permission was as a Tier 4 (General) student or a pre-Tier 4 student on a course longer than six months AND all four bullet points below apply:
    • your permission is current or expired no more than three months before this immigration application AND
    • your new immigration application is for a course that is longer than six months AND
    • your dependant already has Tier 4 dependant or 'student' 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
    • you apply for immigration permission at the same time as your dependant

You must already have your Tier 4 (General) immigration permission, or you must be applying for it in the same country where your dependant is making their application, at the same time as them.

Tier 4 (Child) students cannot bring dependants.

If you are on the Doctorate Extension Scheme, or you are applying for it, see the page about 'Doctorate Extension Scheme - Family' instead of this page.

Who is a dependant?

Last modified: 04 February 2016

Your partner and your child can be your Tier 4 dependant. Your parent, brother, sister or other relative cannot.

Your partner

 'Partner' means

  • Your husband or wife
  • Your civil partner. This means you are a same-sex couple who has registered your partnership to gain formal legal recognition of your relationship. For information about partnerships in countries outside the UK that are treated as civil partnerships, see the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group website
  • Your unmarried partner or same-sex partner.  You need to have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for a period of at least two years. You need to provide evidence of this.

In all cases, you must both be at least 18 years old when you arrive in the UK.

You must intend to live together throughout your partner's stay in the UK.

Your partner must not intend to stay in the UK longer than the period you are given.

They must meet strict financial requirements (see 'Financial requirements').

Your child or children

  1. If your child is applying to come to the UK as your Tier 4 dependant for the first time, they must be less than 18 years old when they apply.
  2. They must not have formed an independent family unit or be leading an independent life, and they must not intend to do so in the UK. Not living an independent life means:
    • they do not have a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner, and
    • they live with their parents, except where they are at boarding school, college or university as part of their full-time education, and
    • they are not employed full-time (unless aged 18 years or over), and
    • they are wholly or mainly dependent upon their parents for financial support (unless aged 18 years or over), and
    • they are wholly or mainly dependent upon their parents for emotional support

    If your child is over 16 years old when they apply, they will need to provide particular documents to demonstrate that they meet this requirement. The documents required are described in paragraphs 94-97 of the Home Office's Points Based System (Dependant) Policy Guidance.

  3. Both of the child's parents must be coming to the UK. The only acceptable options are:
    • both parents are making an immigration application at the same time and in the same country as the child, or
    • when the child makes their immigration application, one parent is physically present in the UK, and the other parent is making an immigration application at the same time and in the same country as the child, or
    • both parents are already physically present in the UK

    This requirement will not be met if both parents are physically outside the UK but only one of them is going to make an application at the same time as the child (even if the other parent already has immigration permission for the UK).

    The only exceptions to the requirement that both parents must be coming to the UK are when their other parent is dead, or if you have had sole responsibility for the child's upbringing, or if there are other serious or compelling considerations that mean the child should be with you in the UK and you have made suitable arrangements for the child's care. If you are relying on any of these exceptions, it is important your child includes evidence of this with their application. This could include, for example, death certificates or divorce certificates.

  4.  They must not intend to stay in the UK longer than the period you are given.

  5. They must meet strict financial requirements (see 'Financial requirements').

Financial requirements

Last modified: 04 February 2016

Each dependant must have a certain amount of money, held in a bank or building society account, or an account with an officially regulated financial institution. All dependants will need to have evidence of this, and in most cases, your dependant must produce this evidence with their immigration application.

The money can be held by the dependant or by you. If the dependant is your child, the funds can be held by the child’s other parent, but only if the other parent will come to the UK too.

The money must have been in the account for a minimum period of 28 consecutive days up to the date of the closing balance. The account must not have dropped below the amount required at any time during the 28 day period. Also, the final date of this 28 day period must not be more than 31 days before the immigration application is made.

There is an exception to this requirement if a government, the British Council, an international organisation, an international company or a university is giving you money to cover your course fees or living costs. In that case, ask if they are prepared to give you a letter stating that they will cover the full maintenance costs of your dependant. If they will, then that letter on its own will mean that your dependant has met the financial requirements. There will be no requirement for them to show that they have any money at all in a bank or building society account, or in an account with an officially regulated financial institution. There are precise instructions about the format the letter must take in the ‘Points Based System (Dependant) Policy Guidance’. Make sure the letter complies with every one of those instructions. If they are not prepared to say in their letter that they will cover the full maintenance costs of your dependant, but they are prepared to promise them a certain amount, they should say in their letter how much they will provide for your dependant. That amount will then be deducted from the total amount of money that your dependant is expected to show in bank or building society accounts or accounts with officially regulated financial institutions.

Each dependant must declare in their application that the money for living costs will remain available to them, unless used for living costs in the UK.

Working

Last modified: 04 February 2016

Although the Home Office stated in a news item on 14 July 2015 that it intended to limit the entitlement of dependants to work in the UK in future, it has not yet done so. No such change was made by the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC297) that was referred to in the news item, or by any later rule change. Therefore the law has not be amended to bring the change about, and the information below remains correct. It is possible that the Home Office may change the relevant Immigration Rules in the future, in which case we will update this page as soon as possible.  However, any changes to the Immigration Rules will not affect a person who has already been granted a period of immigration permission as a dependant when the change is announced. They would probably be affected if they needed more time, though.

Your dependants will be able to work if you are either:

  • a government-sponsored student taking a course that is longer than six months OR
  • taking a postgraduate course of 12 months or longer at a publicly funded Higher Education Institution or a 'UK recognised body' (see 'Definitions') 

If you do not fall into one of the categories described above, your dependants will be able to work only if you are applying for leave for 12 months or more and your course is at degree level or above.

Dependants who are allowed to work can take any type of employment or self-employment, except:

  • they must not work as a professional sportsperson, which includes being a sports coach (this only applies to a partner if the application for their current immigration permission was made on or after 6 April 2014, and it only applies to a child if their application for their current immigration permission was made on or after 19 November 2015)
  • a partner must not work as a doctor or dentist in training (although there are some special exemptions to this, described in paragraph 319D(b)(iii) of the Immigration Rules)

Schooling for your children

Last modified: 04 February 2016

If your children are aged between 5 and 16, they can attend government primary and secondary schools in the UK, as long as they are here as your dependants. You will not have to pay for this. However, schools may sometimes refuse places to children if they consider their stay in the UK will be too short, or if the schools have no free places.

See also:

Schools admissions - a general guide from the UK government aimed at all UK residents

A guide to schooling in England - for people new to the UK

Babies born in the UK

Last modified: 26 February 2016

This information is about immigration matters for babies born in the UK to a Tier 4 student and their Tier 4 dependant partner. 

If you are a Tier 4 student and you are pregnant, it is very important that you talk to an immigration adviser as soon as possible. If you find you need to interrupt your studies due to pregnancy, you and any dependants will normally need to leave the UK, then apply for new Tier 4 entry clearance in order to return to the UK and resume studies.

Birth in the UK does not automatically make a baby a British citizen. The baby needs to have a parent with British citizenship or settled status in the UK in order to be born British.

If your baby is born in the UK but is not a British citizen, it is quite lawful for him or her to remain in the UK without making an immigration application. However, the baby will need immigration permission to re-enter the UK after any travel abroad, and for babies born to Tier 4 students, there are limited instances when the baby can apply for immigration permission as your dependant.

A baby can apply for immigration permission as your dependant from either inside the UK or from your country of residence (where it is called 'entry clearance') if:

  • you are government-sponsored on a course of more than six months OR
  • you are on a postgraduate course of at least 12 months at a publicly-funded Higher Education Institution or a 'recognised body'.

If you want them to make an application from inside the UK, they apply by making an online application through the Home Office website:

The fee for your baby's application is £439 (plus an extra £400 if you want to attend a Premium Service Centre to present their documents in person rather than sending them by post). In April 2016, these figures will rise to £448 (plus an extra £500).

Before filling in the form, read the whole of the Points Based System (Dependant) Policy Guidance, as they will need to meet all the usual requirements for dependants. If you wish to make an immigration application from inside the UK for your baby in other circumstances, you should seek legal advice.

A baby can apply for entry clearance (from your home country) as your dependant in the following circumstances:

  • the baby is born during your most recent period of Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4 student permission granted for a course of more than six months duration (unless the leave was for a re-sit or to re-take a module for the same course of more than six months duration, in which case the baby can have been born during the permission for the course or the resit or retake) OR
  • the baby is born within three months of the expiry of your most recent Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4 student permission.

Family members visiting you

Last modified: 04 February 2016

A member of your family may wish to come to the UK for a short visit.  This may be because, for example:

  • they are your child but are already over 18, your parent, your brother or sister, or another type of relative who is not permitted to come to the UK as your Tier 4 dependant
  • they are your partner or child, but your course is not one that permits you to bring dependants
  • they are your partner or child, but choose not to come to the UK for a longer stay as your dependant
  • they are coming for a specific purpose, such as your graduation or another event, or for tourism, or simply for a short family visit

If your family member wishes to come to the UK for a period of up to six months only, they may qualify to come as a 'visitor (standard)'. It is compulsory for anyone who is a 'visa national' to apply for entry clearance (a visa) from the British authorities before they travel to the UK, even if they are coming for six months or less (use this web tool to see if your family members are 'visa nationals').

Definitions

Last modified: 04 February 2016

UK recognised body

A 'UK recognised body' is an institution that has been granted degree awarding powers by either a Royal Charter, an Act of Parliament or the Privy Council. You will find a list of such institutions here. The immigration authorities also treat the Foundation Programme Office, Health Education South London, Health Education Yorkshire and Humber, and Richmond the American International University in London as though they are 'UK recognised bodies'.

Publicly-funded Higher Education Institution

To check that your institution is a publicly-funded Higher Education Institution, check the list of university or higher education institutions for the appropriate part of the UK:


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