UK Student Dependent Visa New Rules

UK Student Dependent Visa New Rules 2024

Starting January 2024, the UK Home Office has enforced new rules for student visas, impacting students’ ability to bring family members to the UK as dependents. Announced in July 2023, these changes aim to limit the number of dependants accompanying international students.

This move is part of the UK government’s effort to manage its immigration system more effectively while focusing on the primary purpose of international students’ arrival: education. Understanding these new rules is crucial for students planning to study in the UK, as they significantly affect how students can plan their stay and studies in the country. 

Overview of the Changes

Previously, a wider range of UK student visa holders had the option to bring dependants like spouses and children to them. Starting January 1, 2024, the UK has introduced stricter criteria for international students wishing to bring their families along on student visas. 

Specifically, students participating in PhD or postgraduate research programs are allowed to bring dependents to the UK. This adjustment follows a July 17, 2023, update to student visa regulations, which also tightened the requirements for transitioning from a student to a work visa. 

Under the new rules, students must complete their studies and secure a job with a start date after graduation to switch to a work visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa. Furthermore, PhD students must finish at least 24 months of their program before they can apply for the transition.

Also Read: Can You Study on a Fiancé Visa in the UK?

Will the New Rules Affect Old Students?

There’s relief for students and their dependants who were in the UK before the new rules took effect on January 1, 2024, as these changes won’t apply retroactively. Dependants of students who started their courses before this date can still apply for visa extensions provided the student’s visa remains valid.

Which Students Can Still Bring Dependants?

Those who can still be able to bring their family members to the UK include:

  1. Government-Sponsored Students: If you’re coming to the UK on a scholarship covering your course fees and living costs, and your course lasts more than 6 months, you can bring dependents. This scholarship must be funded by a central government department.
  2. Postgraduate Students with Research-Based Degrees: Students enrolled in full-time postgraduate courses (RQF level 7 or above) that last 9 months or longer can bring dependents, provided their program is either:
    • A PhD or doctorate degree (RQF Level 8), or
    • A research-based higher degree.

A research-based degree primarily involves a significant amount of student research compared to taught study. This includes programs where creating original work or a substantial research component exceeds taught elements.

When applying for your student visa for a research-based degree, you’ll need a ‘Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies’ (CAS) from your university. This document confirms your place at the university and indicates if your course qualifies as ‘research-based.’

Can I Extend My Student Dependent Visa After the Changes?

Yes, extending your student dependant visa after the recent changes is possible, but it depends on several factors. Here’s a brief overview of the different scenarios:

Dependents Granted Permission Before January 1, 2024:

  • If the student started their course before January 2024 and the dependent was already granted permission, they can apply for a visa extension to stay in the UK.
  • The original rules continue to apply for these extensions without the need to meet the new criteria.

Dependents Granted Permission After January 1, 2024:

  • If the student qualifies under the new rules and their dependant has been granted a visa, their dependants can also apply for an extension.

Extending Stay When Switching to a Graduate Visa:

  • Dependants can extend their stay if they switch to a Graduate visa, regardless of when the course started, provided they were initially granted leave as student dependents.
  • The original student must be given clearance to remain as a graduate before the dependant extends their stay.
  • Bringing New dependents is generally not allowed on the Graduate route, except in cases where dependent children are born in the UK during their parent’s tenure on a Student or Graduate visa.

Can the Student Dependant Visa Be Changed to a Work Visa?

If you’re currently in the UK with a student-dependant visa, you may be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa application, provided you meet the necessary visa rules. 

Switching to a work visa allows you to stay in the UK freely, depending on your abilities and employment offer, rather than a spouse’s student visa. However, there is one crucial exception: parents of children on student visas cannot convert to a Skilled Worker visa.

To successfully transition from a Student Dependant visa to a Skilled Worker visa, you need to:

  • Secure a job offer from an employer who holds a UK sponsor licence.
  • Ensure that the job offer meets the minimum salary requirement, which, as of December 2023, stands at £26,200 per year, £10.75 per hour, or the applicable ‘going rate’ for your occupation.
  • Satisfy the English language requirements, demonstrating the ability to speak English at a B1 level on the CEFR framework.

Meeting these requirements is crucial for obtaining the work visa and continuing your stay in the UK independently of your family member’s student visa.

Also Read: What Are the New UK Fiancé Visa Requirements in 2024?

Let Spouse Visa Lawyers Help You

Understanding the new rules for student-dependant visas can be confusing, especially with recent changes coming into effect. Our specialised team of Spouse Visa Lawyers is here to give effective counsel based on your specific scenario.

With our comprehensive understanding of UK immigration laws and dedicated support, we aim to simplify the process and offer clear advice on the most effective route to securing your stay in the UK.

Don’t let the complexities of immigration rules overwhelm you. Contact us for a consultation, and let us help you pave the way to a successful outcome.

You Ask, We Answer


As of January 1, 2024, only certain students, such as those in PhD programs or particular postgraduate research courses, can bring dependents to the UK. Unfortunately, if your program does not fall under these categories, you will not be eligible to bring family members as dependents under the new rules.

Suppose you’re in the UK on a dependent visa tied to a student visa holder. In that case, you may have the option to extend your stay, switch to a different visa category if you meet the eligibility criteria, or stay as a dependent if the student transitions to a Graduate visa.

Under the new regulations, parents who are in the UK as dependents of a student visa holder are not allowed to switch to a Skilled Worker visa. This rule is intended to maintain the focus on the student’s education and ensure the integrity of the visa system.

To fulfil the financial requirements for bringing dependants to the UK on a student visa, the main visa holder must show they can financially support their family members. Specifically, you must have either:

  • £845 per month for up to 9 months for courses in London, or
  • For courses outside of London, a monthly fee of £680 for a maximum of nine months.

These amounts are designed to cover living expenses, accommodation, and healthcare for the stay, ensuring dependents are adequately supported while in the UK.

Whether a course is classified as ‘research-based’ is determined by its content, which focuses on a significant research component compared to taught elements. You can confirm this classification through your university’s Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) document, which will indicate whether your course meets the criteria.

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The information provided in our articles is intended solely for guidance and should not be considered legal advice. We do not assume responsibility for any liabilities arising from the information in written articles and recommend that all readers seek professional advice before taking any action. For those wishing to discuss their case with a professional, please feel free to contact us directly.

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