Find out who qualifies as a dependant, how you can make a dependant application in the UK or abroad and what documents you'll need to provide.
Only some types of students can bring family to the UK as dependants, and only some types of family member count as dependants.
Who qualifies as a dependant?
The following categories of people qualify as a dependant:
- Your husband or wife.
- Your civil partner – civil partners are same sex couples who have registered their partnership to gain formal legal recognition of their relationship.
- Your unmarried or same-sex partner (to be unmarried or same sex partners, you will need to have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for a period of at least two years; you will be expected to provide evidence of this).
- Your child or children aged under 18 (if applying overseas).
- Your child or children aged over 18 only if applying within the UK and only if they are already your dependant under your visa.
If your husband, wife or partner is applying as your dependant you must both be at least 18 years old when your partner receives their visa; or when they arrive in the UK, if they have not yet come to the UK.
You can only bring your child / children with you to the UK if your partner is also coming with you to the UK. The exceptions 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
Which Students are allowed to have dependants?
The following Students are allowed to have dependants with them in the UK:
- Students who have financial sponsorship from a government to study a course lasting 6 months or longer. The government sponsorship must be from a central government department covering all fees and living costs for the student.
- Students studying a postgraduate level course at the University of Leeds lasting 9 months or longer. If the course start date is on or after 1 January 2024, the course must also be one of the following:
- a PhD or other doctoral qualification, or
- a research-based higher degree (such as MRes or MPhil)
- Students who have permission, or had permission within the last 3 months to study on a full-time course of 6 months or longer, and who are now applying for permission to study a full-time course of 6 months or longer where either:
- the partner or child applying has been the student’s dependant in that period
- the child applying was born since the last grant of permission to the Student and they are applying at the same time as the student or the dependant partner
If you apply for your visa for a course that starts after the 1 January 2024 then your dependants can only join you in the UK if you are studying a PhD or other doctoral qualifications/research-based higher degree. Government sponsored students can still continue to bring their dependants to the UK if their course is longer than 6 months. Dependants already in the UK can continue to extend their visas.
Dependants who do not currently hold a Points Based System visa must apply for entry clearance from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) in their home country before they come to the UK. Each dependant must complete a separate application form, and pay a fee which is the equivalent of £490 in local currency. You can find out how to apply for a visa for your dependants on the UKCISA website.
Dependants who hold a visa in a Points Based System category such as Student or Skilled Worker can apply to become a dependant in the UK without having to return home to do so. You must include evidence to prove your relationship to the applicant.
- Marriage or civil partnership certificates
- Bank statements in joint names
- Council tax/utility bills in joint names
- Full birth certificate showing both parents names
If you are a child dependant over the age of 16 you will also need to include two of the following documents:
- Bank statements; and/or
- Credit card bills; and/or
- Driving licence; and/or
- NHS Registration document; and/or
- Letter from your current school, college or university confirming your address. This must be on official headed paper bearing the official stamp of that organisation. It must have been issued by an authorised official of that organisation.
If your child has recently been born in the UK please see further guidance regarding the eligibility for your child's entitlement to free NHS treatment.
Applying in the UK
Your dependant must complete the appropriate application form online at the UKVI website:
Your dependant will need to provide your application reference number when they apply.
If you would like the Student Visa Advice team to check the application before it is submitted, you should stop completing the form at the 'Declaration' stage to ensure that any amendments needed can be made after it is checked by the Student Visa Advice team.
The standard cost of applying for a dependant visa in the UK is £490. The process for submitting your documents following payment for the online application is detailed at Steps 6 and 7 of our webpage about extending your visa in the UK.
Applying outside the UK
All dependant applications should be made online. The fee for this application is £490.
What documents do I need to provide?
If your family members are applying from overseas to join you as your dependants, you will need to provide the following documents to support their applications:
- A letter inviting your family to live with you as your dependants.
- Your University Registration Certificate – available to request from the link available here: https://students.leeds.ac.uk/registrationcertificate
- A copy of your tenancy agreement/accommodation contract.
- A copy of your current visa – either in your passport or your Biometric Residence Permit.
- Evidence of funds to maintain your dependants financially – this will be your original bank statement and/or sponsor letter. You will need to show that you have a minimum of £680 per month per dependant for the duration of your course up to a maximum of 9 months.
- If you are self funded and applying to extend your visa with your dependants in the UK, you will need to show that you have a minimum of £680 per month per dependant, up to a maximum of 9 months.
- If using a bank statement, the required funds need to be held for 28 consecutive days, with the bank statement used being no more than 31 days old on the date of application.
- Evidence of your relationship to your dependants – marriage/birth certificate.
Length of leave granted
Your dependant partner's visa will expire at the same time as your visa. Your dependant child's visa will expire on the same date as whichever of their parents’ visas ends first. Should you need to apply for more time as a student in the UK, your dependant will be able to make an application to extend their leave at the same time as you. If your child is aged 18 or over, they are permitted to make an application to extend their leave in the UK provided that they have previously been granted a visa as your dependant.
If you're studying a course of six months or less, your family members cannot apply to come to the UK as Student visa dependants. However, they would be permitted to apply for a Standard Visitor visa, in which case they would be granted a visa for a maximum of six months and must return home again before the visa expires. It is not permitted to switch from a Standard Visitor visa to any other kind of visa in the UK.
Dependants with a Standard Visitor visa must return home in order to apply for a different type of visa. Please refer to our family and friends visits page for further guidance to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.
Check your understanding by looking at the UKCISA Dependants webpage to help you find out if you can bring your family to the UK.