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International Students

 

Some Tier 4 students are eligilble to bring family to the UK as a visa dependant. The following provides guidance on which students are eligible to bring dependants, who can come as a dependant and how to apply for the visa.

Am I eligible to bring Tier 4 dependants?

The Home Office only permits a student applying for a Tier 4 visa from overseas to bring dependant family members if their course is at postgraduate level and at least 12 months long OR they are a new government sponsored student on a course that is 6 months or longer.

If you do not fulfil these requirements, your family could visit you in the UK under the standard visitor route. A visitor can normally stay in the UK for up to 6 months. The Home Office provides further information on what you can and can't do as a visitor to the UK. Nationals from certain countries, i.e. a visa national, are required to apply for, and obtain a standard visitor visa before travelling to the UK. If you are not a visa national, you may request entry as a visitor at immigration control on arrival in the UK.

Family members already in the UK as Tier 4 dependants will usually be able to extend their visa in the UK.

 

Who can come to the UK as a Tier 4 dependant?

A dependant for Tier 4 purposes is:

  • A husband, wife or civil partner.
  • An unmarried partner if you have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for a period of at least 2 years.
  • A child under 18 years old.

If your partner is not coming to the UK with you, but you wish to bring your child/children as your dependants, the Home Office only allows this in exceptional circumstances. In the dependant visa application you will have to evidence the 'serious and compelling' reasons why the child should be with you in the UK and that you have made suitable arrangements for the child's care. Examples of 'serious and compelling' reasons include having sole custody of the child. It is recommended that you contact the International Student Office if this is relevant to your circumstances.

Applying from overseas as a Tier 4 dependant

What are the requirements?

To be eligible to apply for a dependant visa of a Tier 4 student, the following requirements must be met:

  • The student's course must be at postgraduate level and at least 12 months long OR they are a new government sponsored student on a course that is 6 months or longer.
  • You must intend to live together throughout your stay in the UK.
  • The relationship must be subsisting at the time of the application.

When to apply

A dependant can apply at the same time as the Tier 4 student or after the student has received their visa.

How much does it cost?

The application fees is £348 in local currency for each dependant application. Dependants are also required to pay the immigration health surcharge which is charged at £150 per year for the duration the visa will be valid.

Where to apply

Similar to a Tier 4 student, dependants should apply in their country of nationality or a country where they have immigration permission other than as a tourist. The application is made online. A separate application needs to be completed for each dependant.

In most countries, as part of the online application an appointment is booked to attend the visa application centre to enrol biometrics (have your fingerprints and facial image taken) and submit supporting documents.

Applicants in the USA and New Zealand attend a biometrics appointment and, following this, must send their supporting documents to UKVI within 5 days.

Financial requirements

As part of the visa application dependants must be able to prove sufficient funds to cover living costs in the UK. This is £680 for each month the visa will be valid, up to a maximum of 9 months. This is a total of £6120 per dependant if the visa will be granted for 9 months or more (9 x £680).

A bank statement or bank letter can be used to fulfil this requirement and the funds can be held in the student's name or the spouse / partner's name. The financial documentation must show that  the required level of funds have been held for a minimum consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance), ending no more than 31 days before the date of application.

If the student has official financial sponsorship which covers the living costs of any dependants, a letter from the sponsor confirming this can be submitted to fulfil the financial requirements. The letter would need to confirm the amount they are providing to cover the living costs for any dependants. If it does not cover the full amount required, additional financial docuemtnation would need to be provided.

Nationals of the following countries may be subject to differentiation arrangements if they apply in their country of nationlity:

Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong*, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan**, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, British National Overseas*

* Where the applicant is a rightful holder of a passport which has been issued by the relevant competent authority and where the applicant is applying for entry clearance in the territory related to that passport

**Those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan

Differentation arrangements only apply to dependants where they hold the same nationality as the student and they are applying for the visa at the same time. If this applies, financial documents will not need to be submitted with the visa application. However the Home Office is entitled to request these documents during the consideration process and failure to provide them within a specified timeframe could result in the application being refused. It is therefore advisable to ensure funds are held in the manner required under Tier 4 at the point of making the visa application.

As the University of Cambridge is participating in a Tier 4 visa pilot scheme, all dependants applying for a visa at the same time as a student who is undertaking a Masters course of 13 months or less are also subject to differentiation arrangements. This means dependants in these circumstances will not need to provide financial evidence with their visa application. They are required to hold the funds in the manner specified and could be asked to provide evidence of this during the visa application process.

Other supporting documents

The following documents also need to be provided in support of a dependant application:

  • Passport
  • TB test certificate if applicable - check on the gov.uk website
  • Evidence of relationship to main applicant:
    • If you are married or in a civil partnership, you would provide the marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate. If you have been recently married or been married for some time but not living together, it may be advisable to provide additional evidence of a subsisting relationship. In these circumstances, contact the International Student Office for further guidance.  
    • If you are not married, you will need to provide evidence that you have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage for at least two years. Documents will only be considered where they are from official sources. They will need to cover the minimum two year period in full. Documents you may use to evidence this could include bank statements, utility bills, tenancy agreements and medical registration certificates.
    • For dependant children, a birth certificate should be used to demonstrate the relationship.
  • A copy of the student's visa if applying separately.

All documents submitted with a visa application should be originals. Any documents not in English must be accompanied by official certified translations.

Obtaining the visa and collecting the BRP

A 30 day permit is issued in the passport  which enables travel to the UK.The actual visa, in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), will need to be collected within 10 days of arriving in the UK. The BRP can be collected from the University or Post Office.

Applying from inside the UK as a Tier 4 dependant

If your family member is already in the UK as a Tier 4 dependant, or on another visa which allows them to switch to be a dependant, they will be able to apply for their visa in the UK. You cannot switch to be on a dependant visa if the family member is in the UK as a visitor or short-term student.

When to apply

The Home Office advises dependants to apply at the same time the student is extending, or switching into, their Tier 4 visa. A dependant application can be added to a Tier 4 student application.

How much does it cost?

The application fee is £477 for the standard service, which takes up to 8 weeks. There are prioirty and premium services available. Dependants are also required to pay the immigration health surcharge which is charged at £150 per year for the duration the visa will be valid.

Financial requirements

As part of the visa application dependants must be able to prove sufficient funds to cover living costs in the UK. This is £680 for each month the visa will be valid, up to a maximum of 9 months. 

The additional time granted on the end of the visa from the student's course end date is included in calculating the financial requirement for a dependant if the course length is less than 9 months. For example, PhD students will be granted an additional 4 months on the end of their visa from the course end date.   

A bank statement or bank letter can be used to fulfil this requirement and the funds can be held in the student's name or the spouse / partner's name. The financial documentation must show that  the required level of funds have been held for a minimum consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance), ending no more than 31 days before the date of application.

If the student has official financial sponsorship which covers the living costs of any dependants, a letter from the sponsor confirming this can be submitted to fulfil the financial requirements. The letter would need to confirm the amount they are providing to cover the living costs for any dependants. If it does not cover the full amount required, additional financial docuemtnation would need to be provided.

Nationals of the following countries may be subject to differentiation arrangements if they apply in their country of nationlity:

Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong*, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan**, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, British National Overseas*

* Where the applicant is a rightful holder of a passport which has been issued by the relevant competent authority and where the applicant is applying for entry clearance in the territory related to that passport

**Those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan

Differentation arrangements only apply to dependants where they hold the same nationality as the student and they are applying for the visa at the same time. If this applies, financial documents will not need to be submitted with the visa application. However the Home Office is entitled to request these documents during the consideration process and failure to provide them within a specified timeframe could result in the application being refused. It is therefore advisable to ensure funds are held in the manner required under Tier 4 at the point of making the visa application.

As the University of Cambridge is participating in a Tier 4 visa pilot scheme, all dependants applying for a visa at the same time as a student who is undertaking a Masters course of 13 months or less are also subject to differentiation arrangements. This means dependants in these circumstances will not need to provide financial evidence with their visa application. They are required to hold the funds in the manner specified and could be asked to provide evidence of this during the visa application process.

Other supporting documents

The following documents also need to be provided in support of a dependant application:

  • Passport
  • Two passport photographs
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if you have one for your current visa
  • Police registration certificate if required.
  • Evidence of relationship to main applicant:
    • If you are married or in a civil partnership, you would provide the marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate. If you have been recently married or been married for some time but not living together, it may be advisable to provide additional evidence of a subsisting relationship. In these circumstances, contact the International Student Office for further guidance.  
    • If you are not married, you will need to provide evidence that you have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage for at least two years. Documents will only be considered where they are from official sources. They will need to cover the minimum two year period in full. Documents you may use to evidence this could include bank statements, utility bills, tenancy agreements and medical registration certificates.
    • For dependant children, a birth certificate should be used to demonstrate the relationship.

All documents submitted with a visa application should be originals. Any documents not in English must be accompanied by official certified translations.

 

 

Working as a Tier 4 dependant

A Tier 4 dependant is able to work in the UK except:

  • they cannot work as a professional sportsperson, which includes a sports coach.
  • they cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training unless they have a degree in medicine or dentistry from a UK institution or have previously been granted a UK visa that did not restrict their employment as a doctor or dentist in training and were employed as such during that period.
Children born in the UK

It is not necessary to apply for a Tier 4 dependant visa for a child born in the UK. However, if you leave the UK with the child they will require immigration permission to re-enter. In addition, children born in the UK are able to use the NHS free of charge until they are 3 months old. After this, charges can apply for NHS treatment unless a Tier 4 dependant visa has been obtained for the child as the immigration health surcharge would be paid as part of this application.

When apply for a Tier 4 dependant visa for children born in the UK, both parents are required to be in the UK unless there are 'serious and compelling' reasons this is not possible.

Sources of further information

It is your responsibility to ensure you understand and meet the UK immigration requirements..

You are advised to read the information on the Home Office website and the PBS Dependant Guidance before applying for a Tier 4 dependant visa.

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides information on dependant visas.

Contact us

The University's International Student Office provides a visa advice service and can assist with queries in relation to Tier 4 dependant visa applications. However, it is the applicant's responsibility to make sure they understand and meet the UK immigration requirements.