Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Bringing Family to the UK

If you are coming to study in the UK as a student on a student visa you may wish to bring family with you. Certain students are permitted to bring family members to the UK as dependants. This page gives information that you will need before you apply, and information on family members visiting you.

Who Can Be a Dependant? 

The definition of a ‘partner’ has been expanded for those permitted to bring dependent partners to the UK. A ‘partner’ now includes a fiancé, or proposed civil partner, which is a new development.

Under the  immigration rules your 'dependants' are:

  • Husband or wife
  • Civil partner (same sex relationship only)
  • Unmarried or same sex partner (you must evidence that you have been living in a relationship for two years)
  • Children under the age of 18 (upon arrival in the UK)
IMPORTANT: When bringing dependent children BOTH living parents must normally be coming to the UK or extending their leave in this capacity. If only one parent is applying to come to the UK, please speak to an International Student Adviser at the College because there are very limited exceptions to this requirement.

Who Can Bring Dependants?

You can bring your dependant to the UK if:

  • you are studying a postgraduate level course, lasting 9 months or more, or
  • you are fully sponsored by your government for a programme of study lasting more than six months
  • you are applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

Detailed information for dependants is available on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website, including information about:

  • financial requirements
  • how to apply for a dependant visa
  • working as a dependant
  • babies born in the UK
  • family members visiting you
  • schooling for your children

No Recourse to Public Funds 

A person with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) cannot access benefits, homelessness assistance from the council or allocation of social housing through the council's register. Only these publicly​ funded services are classed as 'public funds' for immigration purposes – see the full list here.  

Healthcare and Childcare

Healthcare for babies born in the UK

We advise that students who have babies born in the UK seek to make an immigration application for them as soon as possible after their birth to avoid potential liability for NHS charges in any period between three months after they are born (when free treatment is automatically allowed).

Childcare and schooling

You must bring adequate funds to the UK to cover any childcare costs. The UK Government or the RCA have no provision to help with childcare costs. If your children are here as your dependants, they will be eligible for a free school place from the age of five. However, you will still have to pay for any before or after school care that you need for your child. 

You may also qualify for a part-time early learning place for three-to-four year olds for 15 hours per week in school term time. Rarely, some two year olds may also be eligible if they have significant special needs. You can find out more about places through your Local Authority’s early years provision.

Children aged two

This means that most two-year-old children in No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) families will not be able to receive free childcare as eligibility is generally linked to the parent being in receipt of certain welfare benefits, all of which are public funds​, and cannot be claimed by people with NRPF.​

Children aged three and four: 15 hours free childcare

In England, all children aged three and four are entitled to 570 hours of free childcare or early education each year, which must be taken over at least 38 weeks, for example, 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. This can be provided to children in NRPF households.

Children aged three and four: 30 hours free childcare

From September 2017, parents who are working and earning on average at least £120 per week will be able to apply for an additional 570 hours of free childcare each year. Children may also be eligible if a parent is on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or unable to work due to a disability or caring responsibilities. 

A parent who has leave to remain with the NRPF condition cannot apply for this additional childcare. However if they have a partner who is entitled to apply who does have recourse to public funds then they may make the application instead.

Children under 12 (or disabled children under 17): tax free childcare

Parents who are working, and earning on average at least £120 per week, may be able to benefit from the government's tax-free childcare scheme. This scheme is available nationally.

A parent who has leave to remain with the NRPF condition cannot apply for this additional childcare. However if they have a partner who is entitled to apply who does have recourse to public funds then they may make the application instead. ​

For more information about what is a public fund see

Family Members Visiting You

Your family members (including those not eligible for a dependant visa) can visit you for a short period of time while you’re in the UK. They would need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa online.

Standard visitor visa

Guide to supporting documents

Invitation letter for family