We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our site you agree to our use of cookies

Find out more about cookies >
Find out how to manage cookies >


Note: Contrary to reports in the media, the Immigration Rules regarding the ability of dependants to work while in the UK have not changed.  Therefore the information below is still correct. 

The Home Office included this change in a news item on 14 July 2015, saying that it will take effect 'from the autumn', however this change was not included in Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC297) to which this news item refers.  Therefore the law has not be amended to bring this change about. 

It is possible that the Home Office may change the relevant Immigration Rules in the future, in which case we will update this information as soon as possible.  However, any changes to the Immigration Rules will not affect you if you have already been granted leave as a dependant when the change is announced. 


Dependant has not yet applied, or they applied on or after 4 July 2011

Your family members will be able to work if you are either:

  • a government-sponsored student taking a course that is over six months long, or
  • taking a postgraduate course that is at least 12 months long and you are studying at an institution that meets the UK Border Agency's definition of a higher education institution.

The UK Border Agency defines a higher education institution as a Recognised Body or as an organisation that receives public funding for specific funding bodies. You should check with your college or university if it meets this definition, or the UK Border Agency's definition of an "overseas higher education institution" if you are on a study abroad programme.

If your family members are able to join you or stay with in the UK even though you do not fall into one of the categories described above, they will be able to work only if you are applying for leave for 12 months or more and your course is at degree level.

Family members who are allowed to work can take any type of employment, except as a doctor or dentist in training if their passport or biometric residence permit states that they are subject to this prohibition, and they can be self-employed. 

Dependant applied on or after 3 March 2010 and before 4 July 2011

Your family members will have permission to work if:

  • you have permission to be in the UK for 12 months or more, and
  • your course is at degree level or meets the UK Border Agency's definition of a foundation degree.

The UK Border Agency's definition of foundation degree is a course which

Some courses called foundation degrees will not meet this definition, but other courses which are not called foundation degrees, for example some HNDs, do meet this definition. All Scottish HNDs meet this definition. You will have to check with the college or university where you are studying whether your course meets this description and, if it does, ask that the words "foundation degree" appear on your confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) if you are applying at the same time as your family members, or any documents your family members submit with their applications if they are applying separately from you.


Your dependant applied on or before 3 March 2010

Your family members should be allowed to work if you had permission to be in the UK for 12 months or more. The sticker in their passport or their biometric residence permit (identity card) should say nothing about work or just "No employment as a doctor in training".

83 People found this page helpful. Did you?