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Bringing your family to the UK as your dependants

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 live with me in the UK during my studies?

Only your spouse (husband or wife), civil partner, unmarried partner and children under the age of 18 can apply to join you as your dependent 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.

Your dependants can only join you in the UK if:

  • 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 a English Pre-Sessional Course and then a Postgraduate course of 12 months or longer, and you have been given a single CAS family members can apply to join you even though your leave starts with the Pre-Sessional course.

How can they apply to come to the UK?

Dependents must apply online by completing an online application form at Visa4UK. They must make a application in the country where they live, or where they have nationality.

The main applicant (Student) can help family members (Dependents) complete an online application form by using an existing account in their name or by creating a new one. After logging in the main applicant should select ‘apply for someone else’.  

Family members can also create their own online account to apply for a dependent visa to join a main applicant in the UK. After registering an account and logging in select ‘apply for myself’.

Next Steps:

  • Fill in the application form in English - either ‘PBS Dependent Partner’ or ‘Child’ application form(s)  
  • Pay for the visa fee online
  • Print out the form and sign it
  • Book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre to enrol biometric information and submit the required supporting documentary evidence.

Check where your appointment will be before you apply - it may be in a different country. You can save your application form and finish it later once you’ve registered. 

If you are from Cuba and North Korea each dependent must complete application form VAF10– PBS Dependant and apply in person. 

What documents will be required?

  • Dependants’ passport (s);
  • One recent passport sized photograph that meets Home Office requirements.
  • The visa application fee for each dependent is paid separately online. The application fee is £310 (in local currency).
  • Evidence that your dependant can meet the maintenance requirement (see below);
  • Supporting documents relevant to their application. As a guide, your dependants should include:
    - Evidence of their relationship to you e.g. marriage or birth certificate;
    - A photocopy of your own passport details page and your UK visa, either in - the form of sticker in your passport or a Biometric Residence Permit;
    - A personal letter inviting your dependants to join you;
    - A student status letter (available on request from Registry)

    All the documents must be original. A photocopy of each document in addition to the original should be submitted.

What are the maintenance requirements for dependants?

Dependants of students living outside London must be able to show evidence that they have access to living costs of £460 per month for up to 9 months (£4,140) depending on the length of the student’s course. 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 statements must not be dated more than 1 calendar month before the application is submitted.

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 - Dependent 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.

Dependant 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.

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 iss@cardiff.ac.uk or telephone 02920 874844.