Family members

In most cases, your family members should be able to join you when you come to the UK.

Immigration and entry into the UK is managed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and is dependent on individual circumstances. Regulations are subject to change at short notice and you should check the UKVI website for the most up-to-date information.

The guidance below aims to give you a brief overview of how the dependant visa and EEA permit systems work and what’s required of you and your family members.

Our Human Resources teams can offer information on visa applications for those employed by and visiting the University. Please note though that we’re not immigration advisors, so we can’t legally advise you on the specifics of your visa application.


Dependant visa

If you have a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa you can apply to bring your family to the UK with you as your dependants. For applications under the Points-Based System (PBS), the Immigration Rules define ‘dependants’ as your husband/wife, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner, and your child(ren) aged under 18 at the time of application.

Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK, unless they have a Standard Visitor visa in which case they’ll need to leave and apply from outside the UK.

There are a number of requirements that your dependant must meet to be eligible for a dependant visa:

Spouse or civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner:

  • Either, needs to be present in the UK and hold valid leave as a relevant PBS migrant; or
  • Is, at the same time, applying for leave, either inside or outside the UK, as a relevant points-based system migrant.

Note that unmarried and same-sex partners must be able to prove that they’ve “been living in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for a period of at least 2 years”.


  • The whole family needs to apply for visas at the same time, and if applying from abroad will enter the UK at the same time; or
  • Both parents are already in the UK with the children applying to join them from abroad; or
  • One parent’s already in the UK and the other parent’s applying for a visa from abroad at the same time as the children.

If you’re a single parent, you’ll need to be able to prove that you:

  • are the sole surviving parent of the child(ren); or
  • hold sole responsibility for the upbringing of the child(ren); or
  • have “serious or compelling family or other considerations”.

If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply for permission for them to stay. If you intend to travel with them, you’ll need to do this before you leave the UK.

Maintenance requirements:

UKVI requires you to be able to financially support your family members for the duration of their stay in the UK without needing help from public funds.

If you’re being sponsored by the University under Tier 2 or Tier 5 and your Certificate of Sponsorship says “Tick to certify maintenance for migrant (and dependants, if applicable): Y”, or if you have a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent/Promise) visa, then your dependants won’t need to meet the maintenance requirement.

Conditions of leave:

If granted a PBS dependant visa, your family member:

  • won’t be able to access public funds (state benefits);
  • depending on their nationality, may need to register with the UK police; and
  • can’t be employed as a professional sportsperson/coach or as a Doctor or Dentist in Training.

Dependent visas, once issued, are normally valid for the same length of time as the main visa holder’s, and allow multiple entries into and exit from the UK.

The above information is only a short summary – please check UKVI’s guidance for dependants of PBS migrants for full details of requirements and restrictions.


EEA family permits

If your family member’s from the EEA or Switzerland, they can come to the UK to live, work and study without needing to apply for permission.

If you’re an EEA/Swiss national, but your family member isn’t, they’ll need to apply for an EEA family permit to be able to join you in the UK. Family members are husband/wife, civil partner, partner, children, grandchildren,  parents and grandparents.

There are two types of family permit:

  • EU Settlement Scheme family permit for close family members (spouse, civil partner, dependent child or dependent parent) of an EEA/Swiss national who already has ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status under the EU Settlement Scheme; or
  • EEA family permit for close family members of an EEA national without ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status, and extended family members (brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew or niece).

Applications can be made online, and the permit will be valid for 6 months.

Once you’ve arrived in the UK, you and your dependants can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for ‘pre-settled’ status then, after 5 years continuous residence, you’ll be able to apply to switch to ‘settled status’.

The UK government has confirmed that “there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.”

If you’re a British citizen living in the UK and you’d like a non-EEA/Swiss family member to join you, they’ll need to apply for a ‘family of a settled person’ visa. These visas are normally granted for 2 and a half years, or 6 months if your family member is your fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner.