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Your partner and children ('dependants') may be able to apply to come to the UK or stay longer in the UK.
You must be one of the following:
If your postgraduate level course starts on or after 1 January 2024, it must be either:
  • a PhD or other doctorate (RQF level 8)
  • a research-based higher degree
Note: Students whose child was born in a timeframe set out in Appendix Student ST 31.2 are allowed to have that child as a dependant with them in the UK.
In order to be eligible to bring dependants on a sponsorship/scholarship, it must be:
  • a government-funded scholarship
  • from a central government department
  • covering all fees and living costs for the student
For further information, please read the UK Home Office Student and Child guidance document, page 95 and 96.

When bringing your dependants to the UK is right for you

  • You have arranged suitable housing for your dependants from the day you will arrive (e.g., an apartment where more than one person is allowed to live)
  • You have someone who can reliably care for your child while you are studying (e.g., a partner or hired child carer)
  • You are comfortable being on campus without your child and partner (e.g., when attending lectures and using the library and other facilities)
  • You can support your dependants financially – or they are able and permitted to support themselves – throughout your studies
  • You have read all of the UK Government's information on how to apply and meet the required criteria
  • You have read the below information on immigration permission for family and supporting your dependants in the UK and made the required arrangements.
Parent and young child holding hands to attend school

Answers to common questions about dependants

What is a research-based higher degree?
A research-based higher degree means 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. 

Will students on professional doctorates be able to bring dependants?
Students who hold permission for a course of study which the provider has confirmed is a PhD, other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree will be able to bring dependants. 

What about two-year integrated programmes with an integrated premaster and research master programme?
These students will still be able to bring dependants. The course level on the CAS must reflect the exit qualification. 

Can dependants of students who have started their course in autumn 2023 come into the UK after January 2024?
The changes will affect students who are starting their courses from 1 January 2024 onwards. These changes will not affect dependants of overseas students where the student is already in the UK on their course of study. Those starting a taught postgraduate course in the autumn will still be able to have dependants join them after January 2024 (where the other requirements of the rules are met). 

Can dependants extend their permission to stay in the UK if the student needs more time to complete their course, but the course no is no longer eligible for dependants? 
Dependants who are already in the UK can extend their immigration permission if the main applicant is granted further leave to remain under the student route.

What about children of Student visa holders born in the UK after the rules changes?
In line with current rules, students are able to regularise the status of their child as their dependant where the child is born in the UK during the last/current grant of permission, and this has not changed. 

Will there be a concession for disabled students to be able to bring carers?
There are currently no concessions for disabled students to bring carers and this will continue to be the case.

Is the graduate route impacted by these changes?
There is no change to the graduate route. Dependants already in the UK as a student dependant may apply as a dependant of a graduate at the same time as the applicant.

Immigration permission for family

Bringing children to the UK

If you, the main Student visa applicant, plan on bringing your child(ren) to the UK, both parents must also be coming to the UK, unless you have sole responsibility for your child(ren) or there are serious and compelling reasons for you to be their only carer. This is confirmed in paragraph 34.2 in the Immigration Rules Appendix Student
The University is not regulated to advise on what would be considered serious or compelling reasons. We encourage students to contact qualified UK immigration solicitors for advice.
If you bring your dependants with you, please be aware that the cost of living will increase accordingly.
More information:

Children born in the UK 

If a child is born in the UK, they do not automatically become a British citizen. While children born in the UK to parents who are not citizens do not need to apply for a visa, they will require immigration permission if they exit and intend to re-enter the UK. 
If you are applying at the same time as your baby, The application form will ask if you want to add a dependant child (your baby) to the application.
If you have a Student visa and your child is born after you arrive in the UK, your child can apply for leave to remain in the UK while you complete your studies: Dependant visa for children applying later than the parent.

Visas for dependants 

The child(ren) or partner of a Student/Tier 4 visa holder or applicant may be able to apply for a Dependant visa.
Your dependants must apply for entry clearance from the British authorities in the country in which they are legally residing before they travel to the UK.
Each dependant must complete a separate application form and pay the corresponding fee. 
They need to apply for a Dependant visa (unless they are applying in North Korea, in which case they need to print off and fill in application form VAF10).
They will need to know your course details and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number in order to complete the application form.
Before starting the application, your dependant should read information for family members on the Home Office website and the Student and Child guidance.

Supporting your dependants in the UK

Education and childcare for your children 

How to apply for a school place
To make a valid application for a school place, you need to have secured your permanent accommodation in the UK (i.e., where you are going to live for all or the majority of your course). The Plymouth Council Schools Admissions team will then be able to allocate you the correct school if there is space. 
There is no guarantee of a school place for your child(ren). You do not apply directly to a school and the school staff do not have the ability to allocate you a place. 
If your children are aged between 5 and 16, they can attend primary and secondary state schools in the UK as long as they are here as your dependants. You will not have to pay for this. However, schools may sometimes refuse places to children if they consider their stay in the UK will be too short, or if the schools have no free places.
More information:
Nursery childcare
The best way of caring for children under the age of five is for you and your partner to organise your study and free time to ensure that you personally meet the needs of your child(ren). Childcare for children under five is expensive and places are limited. 
There is a children’s nursery on campus: Freshlings Nursery provides a nurturing and enjoyable environment for children primarily for the staff and students of the University.
If there is no availability, you can start looking on the Plymouth Online Directory: Choosing and finding childcare.
Please ensure you make adequate provisions for childcare so that you can engage fully in your studies. Unfortunately, the Home Office will not accept childcare problems as a reason for non-engagement.

Accommodation for families 

You are responsible for finding your accommodation. 
The easiest option for finding a place to live may be to come to the UK alone and stay in temporary accommodation while you look for more suitable long-term housing.
Please be aware that there is currently a shortage of private accommodation suitable for couples and families.  
You are required to live within commutable distance of the University of Plymouth so should choose a place to stay that is close by. We may have to stop sponsoring you if you cannot attend face-to-face sessions. 
If you decide to travel to the UK with your dependants, you must have enough money to cover the high costs of temporary housing (such as a hotel). 

Council Tax for families 

Council Tax is set by local authorities to pay for local services that they provide, such as waste collection, the police and the fire brigade.
Usually, as a full-time student, you will be exempt from paying Council Tax. However, if you live with adults (e.g., your partner) who are not students, you may be charged.
In the private sector, you or your landlord will receive a bill for your Council Tax for the year. Normally, you will pay this in 10 monthly instalments, followed by two months of no payments.
It is for the local council, not the University, to decide whether a student is eligible for council tax exemption. However, if you receive a bill and think it is wrong, please contact Student Union Advice or complete a Student Union enquiry form.
For more information on Council Tax, please refer to Citizens Advice and the University's council tax policy.
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