If you’re considering the UK as a destination to study, one of the considerations may be whether student visa holders can bring their dependants with them.

In the UK, it is possible for certain family members to join international students under the student dependent visa, provided certain requirements are met by both the student visa holder and their dependants.

In this guide we summarise the key criteria to meet if you want to be accompanied in the UK by family members while you study.

Who is eligible for a student dependent visa?

The student dependants visa is only open to qualifying family members of student visa holders. Students studying in the UK for less than six months are not permitted to bring dependants, nor are students who are minors.

To be eligible, each of the family members must meet the dependency requirements.

Relationship requirement

The following relationship criteria apply for a student’s dependent partner:

  • The applicant must be either a student’s partner or the partner of a person applying at the same time as a student.
  • The applicant and their student partner must both be at least 18 years old at the time of student.
  • The applicant and their partner must have been married or in a civil partnership for at least the last 2 years.
  • Any previous relationship must have permanently broken down.

The following is the relationship criteria for a student’s dependent child:

  • The applicant must be the child of a parent who already has permission or is being granted permission as either a student or partner of a student at the same time.
  • The applicant’s parents must each be applying at the same time as the applicant or have permission to be in the UK, unless the parent is the sole surviving parent, has sole responsibility for the applicant’s upbringing, or there are serious and compelling reasons to grant the applicant permission to be with or stay with the parent.
  • If the applicant is a child born in the UK to a student visa holder or student partner, they must provide a full UK birth certificate showing the names of both parents.

Study requirement

In order to be eligible for the student course, the applicant must be the partner or child of:

  • A government-sponsored student who has been granted or is seeking permission to study in the UK for at least 6 months on a full-time basis.
  • A full-time student who has received or is requesting permission to pursue a 9-month or longer postgraduate course at a higher education institution with a proven track record of compliance.
  • A student who has been granted permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
  • A student who has, or has had, permission to study on a full-time course in the UK for at least 6 months in the UK and is wanting permission to study on a full-time course of at least 6 months, where either the partner or child already has, or has had, permission as a dependent partner or child, or the child has been born since the student’s last grant of permission when applying at the same time.

If the applicant is a child who does not fit into one of these categories, they must instead meet one of the following criteria:

  • They must have been born during the student’s current period of leave to attend a full-time course for at least 6 months, and they must be applying within that time, or
  • They must have been born during the student’s original grant of leave or during the period provided for re-sitting examinations or repeating a module if the student obtains permission to re-sit exams or repeat a module of a full-time programme of at least 6 months.

They must have been born within 3 months of the student’s most recent grant of leave expiring, and they must apply for entrance clearance within 6 months of their parent’s current visa expiring.

Financial requirement

Under the financial requirement as a student dependant partner or child, the applicant or their partner/parent must evidence a minimum amount of funds to cover either a maximum term of 9 months or the period of leave being applied for, whichever is shorter.

The required funds for a student studying in London are £845 per month. The funds necessary are £680 per month if the student is studying outside of London. When applying for the dependant visa at the same time as the main student visa, these funds must be in addition to the money required for the student to meet their separate financial requirement.

Unless the applicant has government sponsorship or financial aid from an international scholarship agency that covers both the applicant and the student’s living expenses, they must demonstrate that they have held the required amount of funds for a period of 28 days.

If a student’s dependent partner or dependant child is applying for permission to stay in the UK and has lived in the UK with permission for at least 12 months, they will be exempt from the financial criteria and will not be required to prove finances.

Age & care requirement

A child must be under the age of 18 to meet the age and care requirements for student dependent visa children, unless they were previously granted permission as a dependent child of a student or a student’s partner. This means that if a dependent child over the age of 18 is already in the UK as a dependant, they can apply for an extension.

If the dependent child is 16 or 17, they must not be living on their own. If they are under the age of 18, sufficient arrangements for their care and accommodation in the UK must also be made.

How to apply for a student dependant visa

To apply for a student dependant visa, whether for entry clearance or permission to stay, the applicant must fill out an online application, provide supporting documents, and pay the application fee.

To acquire a biometric residence permit, applicants submit their fingerprints and photograph at an overseas visa application centre if applying from overseas, or a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point if applying from within the UK.

From within the UK, a student’s partner or child can apply if they haven’t been in the country on a visiting visa, a short-term student visa, a parent of a child student visa, a seasonal worker visa, or a domestic worker in a private household visa.

They must also not have been refused a visa on any of the general reasons for refusal, for example if they have been in the UK in violation of the Immigration Rules, such as if they have overstayed.

Student dependent visa supporting documents

The partner or child applying for a student dependent visa will need a variety of documents to support their application, including:

  • Valid passport or other travel document proving their identity and nationality (if applicable).
  • Proof of sufficient funds to maintain oneself throughout their stay.
  • Birth certificate, marriage or civil partnership certificate, or confirmation of their relationship with the principal student visa holder.
  • If you live in a nation where a tuberculosis (TB) test is required, you must have a valid tuberculosis (TB) test certificate.

If the applicant is from a nation that is exempt from the ‘differential proof requirement’ and is applying at the same time as the student, the applicant will not be required to show that they have the funds to sustain themselves. However, depending on the circumstances, the applicant may require additional documents, such as proof of a genuine and ongoing relationship with their student partner or proof of dependency for children aged 16 or older.

Any documents required for the application can be scanned at a visa application centre or a UKVCAS appointment, or submitted through the online service.

Student dependant visa application cost

Applying for a student dependant visa from outside the UK costs £363, and applying from within the UK costs £490.

It costs £19.20 to enrol your biometric information.

In order to access the NHS during their stay in the UK, the applicant must additionally pay the immigration healthcare surcharge as part of their application.

Student dependant visa application processing times

Processing timescales are, however, subject to caseload volume and other factors impacting service, such as COVID-related backlogs. Applicants are advised to check the Home Office’s stated processing times when making their application.

When applying for entry clearance as a student’s dependent partner or dependent child, a decision is normally made in 3 weeks. A decision on switching to this category of visa from within the UK normally takes roughly 8 weeks. However, in some situations, the applicant may be able to pay for a priority service to receive a faster decision.

If the dependent partner’s application for a student dependent visa is approved, they will be granted permission that will expire on the same date as their student partner’s permission. A dependent child’s visa will be valid until either of their parents’ permissions expires first, or until that parent’s permission expires if only one parent is present in the UK.

Student dependant visa FAQs

Can student take dependent to UK?

UK student visa holders may be able to bring certain family members with them, provided they meet the dependent visa requirements.

What are the requirements for dependent visa in UK?

To be eligible for a student dependent visa, you would need to meet the student course requirement, relationship requirement, financial requirement, and age and care requirement for dependent children.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

As Editor of Lawble, Gill helps business and individuals become better informed about their legal rights. Gill is a content specialist in the fields of law, tax and human resources.