Multiple adult students working in a UK library

Changes to the UK Student Visa Rules For Dependants

Published 12 April 2024

Since announcing the removal of “the right for international students to bring dependents to the UK unless on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes” (May 23rd 2023), the government is continuing its focus on reducing net migration whilst still supporting the development of students in higher education across the UK.

This means that from January 2024, international students in the UK will no longer be able to bring dependents on their Student Visa unless they meet certain criteria.

Which international students can still bring dependents to the UK?

If you’re a student who started studies on or after 1st January 2023, you’ll only be able to bring dependents if you fit the following criteria:

  1. You’re a government-sponsored student studying a course that lasts more than 6 months; or,
  2. You’re a full-time student on a postgraduate-level course that lasts 9 months or longer. The sponsoring institution must have a ‘track record of compliance’, which is shown on the register of sponsors”, and your postgraduate level course must be classed as one of the following:
    • a PhD or doctorate degree (RFQ Level 8); or,
    • a research-based higher degree.

What about Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees?

If you’re studying for a non-research Master’s degree, you’ll no longer be able to bring dependents under the Student Visa route.

Any students applying after 1st January 2024 will have to show that your course is ‘research-based’.

If you’re studying for a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll only be able to bring dependents to the UK if you’re on a government-sponsored programme of at least 6 months.

What’s a government-sponsored student?

Government-sponsored students’ fees are covered by a scholarship, including any maintenance costs.

Your scholarship must be:

  • a government-funded scholarship;
  • from a central government department; and
  • cover all student fees and living costs.

What’s a research-based higher degree?

A ‘research-based degree’ is defined as a “postgraduate programme comprising a research component (including a requirement to produce original work) that is larger than any accompanying taught component when measured by student effort.” (gov.uk)

In short, this means that your course should consist of a higher amount of research-driven work than taught studies.

Who are a student’s dependents?

As an international student in the UK, your dependents can be either a partner or a child:

  • your husband, wife or civil-partner;
  • your unmarried partner;
  • your child under 18 years old.

To prove your relationship to your dependent(s), you’ll need to provide evident when apply, such as:

  • a marriage or civil partnership certificate for your partner
  • your child’s birth certificate

If you have questions or concerns regarding these new rules and regulations regarding Student Visa routes, please speak to Five Star.

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