International students with families

Some international students can bring family members to the UK. If you're planning to bring dependants with you to Plymouth (children and your partner), have a look at the useful information below.

Can I bring family to the UK?

Some international students can bring family members to the UK. You can have dependants with you in the UK if:

1. You are in receipt of an award from a Government and your course is full-time and at least six months; OR
2. You are doing a postgraduate level full-time course of 9 months or longer at a 'higher education provider' with a 'track record of compliance' (see 'Definitions'). This is abbreviated in the 'status' column of Register of Student Sponsors to "track record". The type of sponsor may be "HEI", "publicly-funded college", "independent school", "embedded college offering pathway courses" or "private provider" - there is no reference to "HEP" OR
3. Your current or most recent immigration permission was as a Student on a full-time course lasting at least six months and all four bullet points below apply:

  • your permission is current or expired no more than three months before this immigration application
  • your new immigration application is for a full-time course that is at least six months
  • your dependant:
    - already has student dependant immigration permission (or it is the most recent immigration permission that they had, and it expired no more than three months before this application) OR
    - is your child who was born since you were last granted permission
  • you apply for immigration permission at the same time as your dependant

There are additional provisions for children born to Students - see Children born while Student in the UK.

If you plan to bring your spouse/family with you, please bear in mind that the cost of living will increase accordingly.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) consider dependants to be:

  • a partner (spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner) OR
  • child (children over 18 are not eligible unless they are currently in the UK as your dependant)

Visas for dependants

As a Student/Tier 4 visa holder or applicant, you may be able to apply for visas for your family by applying for a Dependant(s) 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 a fee which is the equivalent of £348 in local currency.

They need to apply online (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 especially the Student and Child guidance

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. This is confirmed in paragraph 34.2 in the Immigration Rules Appendix Student. Without demonstrating one parent has "sole responsibility" for your child(ren) or that there are "serious and compelling" reasons, it will not be possible for them to apply.

The International Student Advice team is not regulated to advise on what would be considered "serious or compelling" reasons. We would encourage students to contact qualified UK immigration solicitors for advice.

More information:

Education and childcare for your children

How to apply for a school place

In order 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.

Important: be aware that there is no guarantee of a school place for your child/children. You do not apply to a school itself and they do not have the ability to allocate you a place. Please do not attempt to go onto a school site in the hope you can apply there or influence the Schools Admissions team's decision.

If your children are aged between 5 and 16, they can attend government primary and secondary 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.

Some useful online information can be found here:

Types of school – an explanation of the various options

Schools admissions - a general guide from the UK government aimed at all UK residents

Find and compare schools in England – check on performance based on exam results and Ofsted reports

Nursery childcare

The best way for caring for children under the age of five is for you and your spouse to organise your study and free time to ensure that you personally meet the needs of your children. Childcare for children under five is expensive and places are limited. You should expect to pay upwards of £650 per month for full time childcare for pre-school aged children.

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 here instead on the Plymouth Online Directory:

Choosing and finding childcare

Please note that you will not be eligible for any free funded sessions.

Please ensure you make adequate provision 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.


This UKCISA webpage provides further information.

Accommodation for families

You will be responsible for finding your own accommodation. Unfortunately, there is no support available from the University.

It may be easier for you to come to the UK alone and stay in temporary, single housing while you look for a family home. Your family can travel to the UK once you have found longer-term housing for yourself and your family. Please be aware that there is currently a shortage of private accommodation suitable for couples and families. 

It is a requirement that you live within commutable distance from the University of Plymouth so choose a place to stay that is close by. We may have to stop sponsoring you if you cannot attend face to face sessions as required. Fully online study in the UK is not permitted.

If you do decide to travel to the UK with your family, it is very important that you make sure you have enough money to cover the high costs of temporary family housing (such as a hotel or holiday lettings).

Internet searches, housing agencies and local newspapers are useful when you are looking for somewhere to live.

Council Tax for families

Council Tax is set by local authorities to pay for local services that they provide, such as rubbish 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. husband, wife, partner) who are not students, you may be charged.

In the private sector, your landlord will tell you how much the Council Tax charge will be. Normally you pay it in 10 monthly instalments, followed by two months of not making any payments.

It could range from £130 per month to £200 per month but, as a full time student, you should attract a discount.

It is 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 advice@su.plymouth.ac.uk or complete a Student Union enquiry form.

For more information on Council Tax, please look at the Citizens Advice webpage and the University Council tax policy.

How to contact the International Student Advice team

Email: studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk
Call: +44 1752 587676
Talk to one of the ISA team via Zoom: chat with us live 09:30–10:30, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
We are also available for in-person sessions at the Student Hub in the Charles Seale-Hayne library on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 09:30–10:30 (no need to book).

student discussion