Visas for your family
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Visas for your family

This page is about eligibility to bring family members to the UK as your dependants while you study. 

Following a rule change made on 17 July 2023, if your course starts on or after 1 January 2024, family members will only be able to join you as student dependants if you have a government scholarship or sponsorship for study or your course is a DPhil or a Masters by research. This means if your course is a taught masters starting in 2024 or later, family members can't apply as your dependants unless you are government funded or have recently finished a previous course for which they had student dependant visas. 

1. Who are your dependants?

The following family members can apply as your dependants:

Your partner, meaning: 

  • a person with whom you are married or in a civil partnership, or
  • a person with whom who you have been in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years (for applications made before 25 July 2023 unmarried partners had to show you had been living together for two years, this is no longer required)

a child:

  • who must be under 18 years old to apply, unless their most recent visa is as your dependant
  • who must not be living an independent life, which means they live with their parents unless they are living away for full time education at school, college or university, and they don't have a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • a child of your partner can apply if your partner is applying as your dependant

Your partner will need evidence that their relationship to you is 'genuine and subsisting' for the application. Where relevant, they need to provide a marriage or civil partnership certificate. 

If your unmarried partner is applying, they will need evidence that you have been in a relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership for the past two years.

For information about the evidence of relationship to provide for a partner application, check the Home Office caseworker guidance.

For child dependants, both parents must either be applying for, or already have, permission to be in the UK and that permission must not be just as a visitor. If the child's other parent is not applying, the child can only come as a dependant if:

  • you are, or your partner is, their sole surviving parent, or
  • you (or your partner) have sole responsibility for the child's upbringing, or
  • you can show UKVI that there are serious and compelling reasons for the child to be in the UK with you or your partner.

If the child's other parent is not going to be in the UK their application may be complex and you may need to seek advice before starting it. For information on how UKVI assess such applications, read their caseworker guidance on assessing child dependant applications.

Family members who are not able to come to the UK as your dependants, but who still wish to visit you can apply as visitors.

2. Course requirements for bringing family members

Family members can only apply as your dependants if

  • your course is at least 9 months, full time and at postgraduate level, BUT
  • if your course will start on or after 1 January 2024 it must be a DPhil or research-based Masters, as confirmed on your CAS.  Note that the MPhil in Law and MPhil in Socio-Legal research are research-based Masters, but all other Oxford MPhil courses are taught Masters. OR
  • you are receiving a government scholarship or sponsorship and your course is full time, at any level and at least six months long

If your study does not or will not meet one of these requirements, but your family member already has, or has recently had visa permission as your student dependant which ended less than three months ago, they may be able to get further permission as a dependant if you need to extend your student visa or get a student visa for a new course.  For example if you start a masters course in Michaelmas 2023 and your partner or child gets a student dependant visa, and you are going onto a further masters in 2024, they will be able to get another student dependant visa as long as their previous visa has not expired or is their most recent visa and it expired less than three months before their new application. For more information in these circumstances, see UKCISA's student dependant page

You may also be able to apply for a visa for a child born during your most recent student visa permission or shortly after it - see 7 below. 

Family members who are not able to come to the UK as your dependants, but who still wish to visit you during your course could apply as visitors.

3. Financial requirement:

The Home Office expects there to be £680 a month available to support each dependant applicant, but only up to a maximum of £6120 (9 months) for each applicant. The number of months is calculated from the length of visa you have been or will be granted, including the extra time after course completion date added into your visa. If your dependants are applying after the start of your course the start date for the calculation will depend on the date they plan to arrive in the UK, if applying from their home country, or the date of the day after their current visa expiry, if they are applying from within the UK. 

If you and your dependants are applying at the same time, the funding for your dependants must be additional to the amount of money you need to have available for yourself. If your dependants apply after you already have your visa, then according to UKVI's webpage on student dependants only money for them needs to be demonstrated. Please check that webpage before you apply to make sure that advice has not been changed. 

If your dependant is applying in the UK and has already been here on a valid visa for at least 12 months, they do not have to show they have any funding available.

If you and your dependant are a national of a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ and you’re applying at the same time and in the same place, they do not need to provide financial evidence with their visa application but they must make sure they have the evidence available as the Home Office reserve the right to ask for it for a spot-check. If they need to provide the evidence the Home Office will contact them after they’ve submitted their application.

If your dependants do need to submit financial evidence, or might need to, check carefully that they are able to meet the requirements for the evidence by reading UKCISA's page on financial requirements for student dependants.

If your dependant has been studying, funded in full by a government or an international scholarship agency, in the 12 months before they apply, they will need written funder permission for the dependant visa application. 

4. How to apply

If your dependants are applying from outside the UK

Your dependants will need to apply for a visa before they come to the UK as your dependant.  For information about the online application procedure, go to the Home Office website. Each dependant needs to make a separate visa application. 

Your dependants will need your course details and visa application reference number. They will not need a CAS from Oxford. The standard application fee for each dependant applying is the equivalent of £490 paid in local currency. They will need to book and attend an appointment to give biometrics or if they are EEA or Swiss nationals they might be able to confirm their identity using an app instead. 

Depending on where they are living when they apply, they might need to arrange screening for tuberculosis

If your dependants are already in the UK

Family members in the UK may be able to apply as your dependants if they are here with visa permission which is not only as a visitor or short term student. For example they can apply in the UK if they already have visa permission as your Tier 4 or Student route dependant, and you all need to extend your visas, or if they have another visa type such as work visa but want to switch to being your Dependant. For further information see the Home Office website. The application fee is £490 and your dependants will need to book and attend a biometrics appointment unless they are EEA or Swiss nationals. 

Your dependants will be given visa permission with the same end date as your own. They  If your family members are EEA or Swiss nationals their status proof will be electronic and they will not be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit. 

Paying the Immigration Health Surcharge

Each dependant will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge in full when they apply to cover the duration of the visa to be granted at a rate of £776 per year or £388 for a part year period i.e. 0-6 months. You can use the UKVI IHS calculator to find out how much your dependant will need to pay in total.  

5. When the application is granted

Dependants will be given visa permission that ends on the same date as yours. If they applied outside the UK, they will be given a travel sticker in their passport valid for a 90 days to travel to the UK where they will then need to collect their Biometric Permit (BRP) within 10 days of arrival. 

If they applied in the UK the BRP will be delivered to your home address by courier. 

If your dependant is an EEA or Swiss national their status will be granted electronically and they will not receive a travel sticker in their passport or a BRP after arrival.

6. While your dependants are in the UK

Permission to work

Under their student dependant visa permission, your dependant will be allowed to work, including in self-employment, without restriction except:

  • they are not allowed to work as a professional sportsperson or professional sports coach
  • a partner who was given a visa under previous Tier 4 student visa rules which was decided before 5 October 2020 is not usually allowed to work as a doctor or dentist in training although there are some exceptions to this rule. 

Going to school and childcare

Children aged between 5 and 16 who are here as your dependants can attend UK state schools for free.

For information on the UK school system and local schools, and for information on childcare, see the University of Oxford Welcome Service.

Eligibility for welfare benefits and National Health Service treatment

Your dependants' immigration permission will be granted subject to a 'no access to public funds' condition. They will not normally be eligible for, and should not try to claim, any of a list of welfare benefits.

Your dependants granted visas for more than six months will be eligible to use the National Health Service as they will have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their visa application. If the visa is for up to a maximum of six months only they will not have been charged IHS and will not be eligible for NHS treatment so must arrange private medical insurance instead. Family members coming as visitors will not be eligible to use the NHS except for limited emergency treatment and should make sure they have adequate travel or health insurance. 

7. Children born in the UK

The nationality of a baby born in the UK will depend on the nationality and immigration situation of the baby's parents. If at least one of the baby's parents is a British citizen, or has Settled Status (Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK at the time of the baby's birth, then the baby will have British citizenship and could apply for a UK passport. If neither parent is a British citizen or 'settled', the baby will not be born with British citizenship. 

It is legal for the baby to remain in the UK without a visa. However, once your child leaves the UK they would need to have visa permission to re-enter, and you will need to decide whether to apply for this in the UK before you travel or to apply in your home country for your baby as your dependent family member before their return to the UK. 

For a baby more than three months old to remain eligible for NHS treatment in the UK, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) needs to be paid as part of a visa application, for this reason it is advisable to make a visa application for your baby as soon as possible. For your baby to apply they will need a UK birth certificate naming both parents. It is possible for them to apply before they hold a passport if they are not able to get a passport quickly. The application form requires a passport number but if you need to apply for your baby's visa before they have a passport, you can enter a row of zeros, and upload a note explaining the situation with the other documents. 

8. Your dependants and the Graduate route

If you are interested in applying to stay in the UK under the Graduate route following completion of your studies, note that family members can only apply as your Graduate route dependants if they already hold a visa as your student dependant, or they are a baby born in the UK during the validity period of your last student visa.  This means that if your family members are outside the UK they will need to apply and join you as Student dependants before they can become your Graduate route dependants. For full information, read our page and FAQs on the Graduate route.

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