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International Students

Am I eligible to bring Tier 4 dependants?

Only the following non EEA students can bring their family members to the UK as a Tier 4 dependant:

  • Studying at NQF level 7 or above and your course is longer than 12 months
  • A new government sponsored student on a course that is 6 months or longer
  • On the Doctorate Extension Scheme

If you are from within the EEA or Switzerland then you may be able to bring your family by obtaining an EEA family permit.

If you do not fit into any of these categories, then your family must look to obtain their own visas. It may be that your family members qualify for their one of the visas listed here due to their employment status or nationality.

Alternatively your family would need to apply for visitor visas. Please note that a visitor visa only allows an individual to be here for a maximum of 6 months and should not be a means by which to live in the UK. Further details can be found here

Who can come to the UK as a Tier 4 dependant

A dependant is either:

  • Your husband, wife or civil partner (you must submit a marriage certificate or civil partnership document) If you are newly married it is recommended that your dependant submits additional official documentation to prove that you have been in a subsisting relationship
  • Your unmarried or same-sex partner (you must be able to submit official documentation such as rent agreements or joint bills  to prove to the UKVI that you have lived together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for a period of at least 2 years)
  • Your child under 18 years old. (you must provide a birth certificate which includes the names of both parents)

If your partner is not coming to the UK with you, but you wish to bring your child/children as your dependants, the Government 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 due to divorce or the death of your partner. It is recommended that you contact the International Student Team if you are considering this option

When and how to apply for a Tier 4 dependant visa

This depends on whether your family member already has immigration permission that allows them to switch into a dependant visa from inside the UK. Family members in the UK as visitors cannot switch into Tier 4 from inside the country and will need to go overseas in order to obtain a Tier 4 visa. Babies born in the UK are able to apply for entry clearance from within the UK

The process of applying for Tier 4 dependant leave and the requirements depends on where the family member is applying from.

For applications made from outside of the UK please read our dependant entry clearance guidance

For applications made from inside the UK please read our dependant leave to remain guidance

After you have applied for a Tier 4 dependant visa

If you apply for your visa from overseas and assuming that your application is successful, a 30 day permit will be issued in your passport which will enable you to travel to the UK.

You will then be required to collect your actual visa, in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), within 10 days of arriving in the UK. You can collect your BRP from the University or Post Office. If you want your family member who is starting a course at Cambridge to collect your BRP on your behalf, they will need to bring your passport with them.

Information on how to collect your BRP from the University can be found here

Already here as a Tier 4 dependant?

If you are in the UK as a dependant of another person with immigration permission, then your right to be here remains whilst that person's permission holds.

If that person's circumstances change, for example their permission expires or they permanently leave the UK or your relationship ends, this will affect your permission to remain in the UK. You may wish to contact the International Student Team if you are concerned about your immigration status

EEA family members

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national but you are a family member of an EEA or Swiss national, then you may wish to consider obtaining an EEA family permit to allow you to come to the UK. The permit is similar to a visa.

Family visiting you during your studies

If your family wish to visit you in the UK for a short visit (that is less than six months), which may include attending graduation, then they will require a visitor visa. Your family is responsible for determining and obtaining the correct visa. The University will not normally provide a letter, you can do this or you may wish to submit evidence of your student status.

Sources of further information

Please refer to our Entry Clearance Guidance for Dependants

Please refer to our Leave to Remain Guidance for Dependants


Home Office

Contact us

The University's International Student Team 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.