Dependants of Tier 4 Students

Dependants of Tier 4 Students

 I have a student visa which was granted on or after 31 March 2009, can I invite a family member to continue to be or join me in the UK?

Only Tier 4 (General) Students are permitted to ask their dependants to join them in the UK. Tier 4 (Child) Students cannot bring their family members to the UK. As of 4 July 2011, your dependants can apply for immigration permission to join or remain with you only if:

  • You are government sponsored and your course is over six months long OR
  • You are doing a postgraduate level course of 12 months or longer* at a Higher Education Institution OR
  • You had Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4 student leave for your previous course where the course was over six months long AND
    • your permission is current or expired no more than three months before this immigration application AND
    • your new immigration application is for a course over six months long AND
    • your dependants already have Tier 4 dependant or ‘student’ dependant leave AND
    • you apply for immigration permission at the same time as your dependant

*Please note that the Immigration Rules were amended in July and a change to the wording made it seem that only students on courses of longer than 12 months could invite dependants to join them in the UK. The Home Office have confirmed that this was a mistake. All relevant Home Office staff have been alerted to this mistake and the applications of dependants of students on courses of exactly 12 months in length (i.e. Postgraduate Taught Masters courses) should not be refused for this reason.

Which family members can join me in the UK?

The only family members who can make applications as Tier 4 ‘dependants’ are the following which are described collectively as ‘partners’. They must both be at least 18 years old when they arrive in the UK, if they have not yet come to the UK:

  • 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)
  • unmarried partner*
  • same sex partner who is not a civil partner*


  • your child or children aged under 18**
  • child or children aged 18 or over** but only if they are already in the UK with immigration permission as a dependant child. If your current immigration permission is not permission granted under the Points Based System, you must be applying at the same time as your child for permission under the Points Based System.

*Tier 4 migrants may be able to invite their unmarried partners or same sex partners who are not in a civil partnership to join them in the UK. The Points Based System (Dependant) policy guidance does not specify how applicants should prove that they meet these requirements. However, those who cannot produce a marriage or civil partnership certificate need to submit some form of evidence that they meet the requirements for an unmarried or same sex partner. The main issue will be proving cohabitation for a period of at least two years, and that the relationship is ‘genuine’ and ‘subsisting’.

**The Immigration Rules state that both parents should be present in the UK, except in very exceptional circumstances as stated in the Immigration Rules – ‘Part 8 – Family Members’

Babies born in the UK

At present, it is not necessary for a baby born in the UK to regularise their immigration permission in the UK unless they intend to leave the UK and re-enter, in which case the baby must have valid immigration permission to re-enter the UK. Therefore, a successful visa application must be made either in the UK prior to leaving, or from the baby’s home country before returning to the UK. However, if you have recently given birth or are due to give birth to a baby in the UK, then please be aware that their access to secondary health care (specialised hospital treatment) in the UK has now changed (6th April 2015). From the date of the baby’s birth, they are entitled to three months free access to secondary NHS health care. After they are three months old, they must pay for any secondary health care they may need.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that a visa application is made for the baby as soon as possible. This is so that the NHS surcharge payment can be made at the time of application, entitling the baby to access any necessary NHS care that they may need after they are three months old. Please note that if you were not required to pay the NHS surcharge because you made your visa application before 6th April 2015, your baby will still need to make a visa application to be eligible for secondary health care if they were born on or after 6th April 2015. For further information about the NHS surcharge, please see the following:

NHS surcharge

For more information about making a visa application for your baby, please see the following:

PBS dependant application

If you would like help making a visa application for your baby, please make an appointment with ICS LEGAL

Is it mandatory for a dependant to apply for a visa through entry clearance from overseas?

Yes, if the dependant wishes to apply under the Points Based system as a Tier 4 dependant for the first time. Non visa nationals are permitted to attempt to enter the UK for up to 6 months under the visitor category without having obtained Entry Clearance. Please note that if a dependant enters the UK under the visitor category, it will not be possible to apply to switch to Tier 4 dependant or extend current leave from within the UK.

All visa nationals or anyone wishing to enter the UK for more than 6 months are required to apply for a visa through Entry Clearance.

Family members who want to come to the UK for six months or less, including family members other than those who can apply under these provisions, for example, unmarried partners, siblings, grandparents, can apply as GeneralVisitors, Child Visitors or Family Visitors.

Switching – can a dependant apply if they are currently in the uk under another visa category?

It is only possible to switch to the ‘Tier 4 Dependant’ category if you are currently in the UK under another dependant category under the Points Based System i.e. ‘Tier 1 Post Study Work Dependant’, or alternatively, ‘Student Dependant’ under the old rules.

Changes to the Immigration Rules on 1 October 2013

Points Based System dependants who apply for leave to remain in the UK on or after 1 October 2013 will be able to ‘switch’ into that category from other types of other immigration permission, though not from visitor leave, temporary admission or temporary release. This affects the dependants of Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants. It also affects the dependants of Tier 4 migrants who are:

  • government-sponsored and studying a course over six months long, OR
  • studying a postgraduate level course at least 12 months long and sponsored by a recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution.

It means, for example, that it will be possible to apply as a Tier 4 dependant after having been in the UK with Tier 4 or other types of leave, without having to leave the UK to apply for entry clearance. This is as a result of a judgment of the High Court.