Visas and Immigration for study in the UK

Applying with dependants

If you are considering bringing your family members to join you in the UK whilst you study, you should first read about the visa application they will need to make.

If you are applying for a Student Visa (or already hold one) and you have dependants, they may be able to apply for PBS dependant visa to join you in the UK. You may want them to apply for their visa(s) at the same time as you, or you may prefer them to apply for their visa at a later date.

For Student Visa holders, dependants are defined by UKVI as:

  • A husband or wife
  • A civil partner
  • An unmarried partner who has been in a relationship with you similar to marriage for at least two years
  • A child (children must be aged under 18 to apply for a dependant visa)

You can usually bring dependants to join you in the following circumstances:

  • If your course is a postgraduate course and it's at least 9 months long
  • If you are studying below postgraduate level, but you receive official financial sponsorship from a government for your study. Your course must be at least 6 months long

If your course starts on or after 1 January 2024, then you can only bring your dependants to live with you in the UK where you are:

  • You are studying a full time course which is a PhD, other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree OR
  • You are a government-sponsored student who is studying a full-time programme of more than six months in duration

Detailed information

We strongly recommend you or your dependant to read the information on student visa dependants.

The International Student Advice Service can advise you on dependant visa applications, if you need it.

Making the dependant visa application

If your dependant (or dependants) are applying for a visa outside of the UK, they will need to complete an online application form. Each dependant needs to complete a separate application form.  At the time of writing the application fee is £490 per dependant.

If your dependant/s are applying for a visa inside the UK, they will need to complete an online application form.  If they are making the application at the same time that you are making your Student Visa application, you should indicate in your answers that you have a dependant/s applying with you.  The application form will then generate extra sections for each dependant which you then fill in with their details.

At the time of writing, the PBS dependant application fee inside the UK is £490 for a standard application. There are also other services available such as the priority service. Once you pay your application fee, you will be taken to another screen to book your biometrics appointment.

Once the application form has been completed, your dependant(s) will be asked to provide their biometrics to support their application. If the application is being made outside the UK, this will be at a Visa Application Centre.

If the application is being made in the UK, you will be asked to attend a UK Visa and Centre Application Services or a Service Support Centre.

Children under 16 need to attend their appointment with a parent or legal guardian; children under 5-years-old at the point of application, do not need to provide any fingerprints.

Funds in the bank

For each dependant, there is a fixed amount of money that must be held in a bank account for a 28 day period. These funds can be held in a bank account belonging to the dependant, or to you.  See the information on student visa dependants for confirmation of the amounts that apply.

Conditions of the Dependant visa

If you have been issued a visa which is longer than 9 months and for postgraduate level study, your dependants should have the right to work in the UK. Their visa will confirm this. Check the wording on it carefully and seek advice if unsure. It is very important to be sure of the restrictions to working in the UK to avoid breaching any conditions.

These regulations are reasonably complex, so seek advice where necessary. The International Student Advice Service can advise you on dependant visas if you need it.

Visit visas

If your dependant/s wants to join you for a visit only, or they cannot apply for a dependant visa, they could apply for a visit visa instead. The visit visa is an option for family members other than partners and children and also for friends. See our information on inviting a visitor to the UK for more guidance on this.