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Your family and immigration

If you want to bring your family to the UK to live with you during your studies, then there are different immigration rules depending on whether your student visa was issued on or after 31st March 2009, or before that date. Please check the date that your visa was issued. 

If your visa was issued before 31st March 2009 please arrange to speak to a International Student Adviser to discuss bring family members to the UK during your studies.  

Otherwise, please see the information below if your visa was issued on or after 31st March 2009. 

Can my family members live with me in the UK as my dependants during my studies?

Which of my family members can apply to come to the UK as my dependants?

How can my dependants apply for a visa?

What documents will be required?

What are the maintenance requirements for dependants?

What will be their visa conditions?

Additional rules for child dependants

Where can I get further information and advice?


Can my family members live with me in the UK as my dependants during my studies?

Your dependants can only join you in the UK if you meet the following Tier 4 rules:

  • You are doing a postgraduate level course of 12 months or longer, or
  • You are government sponsored and your course is longer than 6 months in duration, or
  • You have a Tier 4 visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme,

If you are doing an English Pre-Sessional Course and then a Postgraduate course of 12 months or longer, and you have been given a single CAS to cover both courses then your family members can apply to join you in the UK even though your leave starts with the Pre-Sessional course.

Which of my family members can apply to come to the UK as my dependants?

Only your spouse (husband or wife), civil partner, unmarried partner and children under the age of 18 can apply to join you as your dependant while you study in the UK. A civil partner is a same-sex partner who you have entered into a legally recognized relationship with. An unmarried partner is someone with whom you have been in a relationship akin to marriage and you have lived together for two years or more.

How can my dependants apply for a visa?

Dependants who are currently outside the UK

Your dependants must apply for 'entry clearance' from the British authorities in their home country before they travel to the UK.

Each dependant must complete a separate application form, and pay a fee which is the equivalent of £322 in local currency. In some countries, the British authorities offer extra services which are optional. If your dependants choose to use these extra services, they will be charged additional fees.

They need to apply online (unless they are applying in Cuba or North Korea, in which case they need to print off and fill in application form VAF10)

When asked to 'Select Visa Type', they should select:

'Reason for Visit' = 'Study'

'Visa Type' = 'PBS Tier 4 Student'

'Visa Sub Type' = 'Tier 4 (General) Dependant Partner' (if they are your partner) or 'Tier 4 (General) Dependant Child' (if they are a child)

Before starting the application, your dependant should read information for family members on the Home Office website, and especially the Points Based System (Dependant) Policy Guidance.


Dependants who are already in the UK

  • If you meet the Tier 4 rules to bring dependants and your family are already in the UK as your Tier 4 dependants, they can apply to continue to stay in the UK with you.  They can apply inside the UK before their visa expires (this date should match your visa end date) or they can apply outside the UK. If your family are in the UK with different immigration permission, they can become your Tier 4 dependant.  As long as they are not in the UK with   permission as a visitor or have 'temporary admission' or 'temporary release', they can apply inside the UK. Please contact ISS for further advice on your options.
  • If your dependants are already with you and you do not meet the Tier 4 rules to bring dependants, but you have already been studying in the UK on a programme that is longer than six months, the rules state that they can continue to stay with you in the UK if:
    • you have a Tier 4 (General) Student visa or Student Visa
    • your current visa is for a programme of study longer than six months
    • your visa has not yet expired or it expired less than three months ago*
    • you and your family apply together (if you are not applying, your dependants have to apply from outside the UK)
    • you are applying for a programme of study longer than six months
    • your family member currently has or had permission (within the last three months) as your dependant

* But the rules also state that you cannot submit an application in the UK if you have overstayed beyond the end date of your visa for more than 28 days. We advise you to always apply before your current visa expires.

What documents will be required?

Dependants will be making either an entry clearance application (applying for their visa at a UK embassy/consulate abroad) or a visa extension application (extending their dependant visa from within the UK) application with following documents:

  • Application form:
  • Application fees:
    • Entry clearance: £322 in local currency 
    • Visa extensions: £439 by post, £839 in person
  • Passport(s): You should submit any passports that you have ever used to enter the UK.
  • 2 photographs: UK passport size photos taken within the last month
  • Financial evidence: showing that your dependants can meet the maintenance requirements (see below)
  • Police Registration certificates: If the dependant is already in UK, and is required to register with the police, you must submit an up-to-date police registration certificate including current visa status and address with your visa extension application.
  • Proof of address: If the dependant child is over the age of 16, they need to show two extra documents dated in the last month to confirm the dependant's residential address.
  • Proof of relationship: This is only a requirement for dependants applying for entry clearance from outside the UK. These dependants must show proof of relationship to the student such as marriage certificates and birth certificates.

If dependants are applying from outside the UK at a different time from the student, they should also provide:

  • Proof of student's visa status: Copies of the student's Tier 4 visa and passport details pages.
  • Proof of student's enrolment: A Student Status letter from the Registry confirming that the student is currently enrolled at the University.

What are the maintenance requirements for dependants?

All students and dependants applying for Tier 4 leave must show they have held a specific level of funds to support themselves throughout the duration of their remaining study or up to a maximum of 9 months, whichever is the shorter. Evidence is normally provided in the form of bank statements. The funds must have been held for 28 consecutive days prior to the application being submitted. The statement must not be dated more than 1 calendar month before the application is submitted. The minimum levels are as follows:

  • Tier 4 student: £9,135 (that is, £1,015 per month) **
  • Tier 4 dependant: £6,120 (that is, £680 per month)

** Up to £1,265 can be offset from these sums for any University-owned accommodation fees that have been paid.

If you are financially sponsored by an official sponsor (such as a government) and they are also providing funds for your dependants then you will need a letter from them confirming this. The name of each dependent must be included.
It is advised that you read the PBS - Dependant Policy Guidance carefully to ensure that the maintenance requirement is met.
The Home Office is very specific about the format of documents. Please ensure that you read the section on maintenance to ensure that your documents are acceptable.
More general information about family member visa applications can be found on the Home Office website.

What will be their visa conditions?

  • Your dependants’ visas will be granted until your own visa expires. If you need to extend your visa then they will also need to extend theirs.
  • Adult dependants may be required to register with the Police.
  • They can only work if you have been granted a student visa for 12 months or longer.
  • They will be prohibited from working if you applied for your student visa on or after 3rd March 2010 and your course is below degree level (except for foundation degrees).
  • Dependants over 16 will be able to study but will not be able to switch to student status within the UK.
  • Children of compulsory school age (5-16) are eligible to attend state funded schools.
  • They will not be able to access public funds including Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Additional rules for child dependants

Both parents must usually be in the UK

The Tier 4 rules state that you can only bring your child/children with you to the UK if both parents are going to be in the UK. This means that if your partner is going to stay outside the UK, your child /children cannot join you.

The exception to this is if you are:

  • the only parent or
  • you have 'sole responsibility' for your child/children or
  • there are serious compelling reasons which mean you and your partner cannot come to live together in the UK

The rules also state that to qualify as a 'child' they must 'not be living an independent life'.  Read the PBS dependant's guidance for further details.

If you are in a position where both parents are not going to be in the UK, please contact ISS for further advice.

Rules for child dependants over the age of 16

If your child is over 16 years old when they apply, they will have to provide particular documents to demonstrate that they meet this requirement. The documents required are described in paragraphs 111-114 of the Home Office's Points Based System (Dependant) Policy Guidance.

Babies born in the UK

If you (or your partner) is pregnant or you have had a baby which was born in the UK, we strongly advise you seek advice from ISS about the implications for your immigration status. 

If a baby is born in the UK, you do not need to apply for immigration permission (a visa) for the baby unless your baby needs to re-enter the UK after travelling abroad. 

If you are in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student, you can apply inside the UK for your baby if you meet the following requirements:

  • you are sponsored by your government to study on a programme longer than six months
  • you are studying on a programme at postgraduate level and for twelve months or more

A baby can apply for entry clearance outside the UK 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.

Where can I get further information and advice?

UKCISA (the UK Council for International Student Affairs) have a useful section on their website offering good advice to students wanting to bring dependents to the UK. 

If you have further queries after reading both this leaflet and the UKCISA guidance referred to above, then you can discuss your situation with an International Student Adviser. To arrange an appointment please email or telephone 02920 874844.


Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions.

Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within

The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis, so it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.