Dependants and the Tier 4 Stud

Dependants and the Tier 4 Student Visa

One of the biggest concerns for some persons obtaining a Tier 4 Student visa is whether their partner/spouse and children will be able to join them in the UK, and whether these dependants will be allowed to work, whilst in the UK.

Dependants and the Tier 4 Stud

Fortunately, the UK immigration rules do make provision for dependants in the form of the Points Based (PBS) Dependant category.

Who qualifies as dependants?

  • The spouse of the main applicant, i.e. the husband or wife in a subsisting marriage, or the unmarried partner of the main applicant, i.e. a person that has been living together in a relationship akin to marriage with the main applicant, in a homosexual or heterosexual relationship, which has subsisted for 2 years or more.
  • Civil partner.
  • Children under the age of 18 may also accompany the parents to the UK as dependants, provided that they are not living an independent life. It is also sometimes possible for a child to accompany one parent to the UK, but special rules apply and you are advised to contact BIC in this regard.

Who can apply as a dependant of a Tier 4 Student Visa holder?

Whether or not a dependant qualify under PBS Dependant immigration category, will depend on the type of course that the Tier 4 Student Visa holder is studying, or will be studying.

The general rule of thumb is that immediate family members will be allowed to join or accompany the student, but only if the student is studying a course of twelve months or more at postgraduate level (above degree level); or a student on the doctorate extension scheme, or a government sponsored student who is undertaking a course of study for longer than six months.

Unfortunately, Tier 4 General Students who will be studying in the UK for six months or less cannot bring their partners/ and or children with them.

There are very strict rules in this regards, so please contact us for further advice and clarification regarding your situation.

Am I allowed to work whilst in the UK as dependant of a Tier 4 Student Visa holder?

The general rule of thumb is that the dependant will be allowed to work, provided that the course study is for longer than 12 months and the course of study is above degree level. There are of course exceptions to this rule, and other conditions of stay, so please contact your BIC consultant for advice in your unique circumstances.

Maintenance Requirement

In order to apply as a family member of a Tier 4 General Student you will also have to fulfill a maintenance requirement, which will differ, depending on the following circumstances; the length of the course; where the main applicant will be studying in the United Kingdom; and whether the main applicant already has an established presence studying in the UK.

What if the relationship breaks down?

A PBS dependant visa is issued on the basis of the relationship with the main permit or visa holder. If the marriage or partnership breaks down, the dependant will have to switch to a permit or visa that will allow him/her to stay in the UK in his/her own right.

If the dependant is not successful in obtaining such a permit or visa, he/she will have to return to South Africa.

For more information please contact BIC at info@bic-immigration.comor visit our website at