Visa Applications

Which visa categories prevent dependants from applying to come to the UK?

By Amer Zaman

on March 24, 2024

Read Time: 7 Minutes

You might have heard a fair amount in recent months about dependants of UK visa holders, and the Government’s moves to bar migrants from bringing dependants with them when they secure a visa to the UK.

This ties in with the Sunak Government’s drive to bring down the record-high net migration levels that have been seen over the last few years, amid concerns about what the migration and border minister, Tom Pursglove, recently described as a risk of “unsustainable pressure on public services and housing.”

In accordance with these goals, Home Secretary James Cleverly announced, in early December 2023, a five-point plan that is meant to help significantly decrease net migration, while also tackling “abuse” of the UK immigration system.

The Home Office’s announcement of the package of measures made clear that one of the intended effects of the changes was an end to the “high numbers of dependants coming to the UK.” So, which visa routes are affected, and what implications could these changes have for you?

Is the UK banning dependant visas?

Firstly, let’s be clear about what the latest plans are not: they do not amount to an all-out ban on all dependants relocating to the UK.

If, however, you are a prospective applicant for a UK visa, and you intend to bring dependants with you to the UK, you should familiarise yourself with the latest rules. It might still be possible to bring a dependant with you on your chosen visa route, but if this is the case, you should make sure you will be able to meet the eligibility requirements for this.

In summary, below are the changes the UK Government is making to dependant visas:

The dependant-related change for the Student visa took effect from 1st January 2024, while the restrictions on senior care workers and care workers bringing their family members with them to the UK were implemented from 11th March 2024.

Are there any exemptions or loopholes allowing me to still bring dependants to the UK?

When it comes to immigration law – in the UK and elsewhere – it is fair to say that “the devil is in the detail”. So, if you are seeking to move to the UK on either of the aforementioned visas, or you are already here on such a visa, you should inform yourself of the specifics of the latest rules.  

If, for example, you were already employed as a care worker or senior care worker in the UK as a holder of the Health and Care Worker visa prior to 11th March 2024, and one of the following is true, it may still be possible for your partner and children to join you or stay in the UK as your dependants:

  • You currently still hold a Health and Care Worker visa
  • You’re extending your Health and Care Worker visa with your current employer
  • You’re switching to a new job within the same occupation code, while continuing to be on a Health and Care Worker visa

As for the Student visa category, if you are only applying now for this visa – for a course of studies commencing well after the 1st January 2024 date when the rules changed – you will only be able to have dependants with you in the UK if you are one of the following:

  • A government-sponsored student starting a course that lasts longer than six months
  • A full-time student on a postgraduate-level course (RQF level 7 or above) that lasts nine months or longer

The term “government-sponsored” refers to a situation in which the given foreign national is receiving a funding award for their studies from the UK Government or an overseas government. This would need to be a scholarship from a central government department covering full fees and living costs. The dependant doesn’t need to be in receipt of an award from the government, but they must nonetheless satisfy the financial requirements for the visa.

In the case of a postgraduate-level course that starts on or after 1st January 2024, it must be one of the following for the migrant student to be able to bring dependants with them to the UK:

  • A PhD or other doctorate (RQF level 8)
  • A research-based higher degree

The UK Immigration Rules define a “research-based higher degree” 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.”

Are there other UK visas that would allow dependants to join me?

Putting aside the latest changes to the Student and Health and Care Worker categories, it is important to bear in mind that a range of UK visa routes could give you the right to bring dependants with you to the UK. This, of course, would be subject to you meeting the eligibility criteria for your chosen type of visa.

Consider, for instance, the Skilled Worker visa, which is a popular route used by many foreign nationals to relocate to the UK. Approximately 69,000 of these visas were granted to main applicants in the 12 months ending June 2023.

If you are an applicant for, or holder of the Skilled Worker visa, it may be possible for your partner and children to join you or stay in the UK as your “dependants”. If this is the case, they will need to prepare and submit their own separate applications for the visa. Presuming their applications are successful, their visa will usually end on the same date as yours.

In order for your partner or child to join you in the UK as a dependant via the Skilled Worker visa category, they will need to satisfy the Home Office’s definition of a “dependant”. This means they will need to be one of the following:

  • Your husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner
  • Your child under the age of 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay
  • Your child under the age of 18, if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant

There are certain other requirements under the Skilled Worker visa that you and/or your dependants will need to fulfil. These will include providing evidence of your relationship to your dependant at the time of your application, as well as making sure your partner and children will have a certain amount of money available to them to support themselves during their time in the UK.

At the time of typing, this financial requirement is:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child.

Here at Cranbrook Legal, our experts in UK immigration law recognise that it can be a confusing process trying to determine whether your situation would enable you to bring dependants with you to the UK on your chosen visa route.

So, if you are uncertain as to the rules that apply to you, please feel free to arrange a free consultation with us, using our online contact form. You are also welcome to call us on 0208 215 0053.  

What is the new rule for the UK spouse visa?

Amid the recent rapid changes affecting UK visa routes, you might have missed some of the recent news concerning spouse visas. The UK spouse visa is a subcategory of the family visa, and provides a means by which a foreign national can join their partner in the UK.

In its news story setting out its five-point immigration plan on 4th December 2023, the Home Office confirmed that the Government would “increase the minimum income required for British citizens and those settled in the UK who want their family members to join them.”

Further details have since emerged, providing greater clarity on what is changing, and when.

At the time of typing in March 2024, a spouse visa applicant and their partner must have a combined income of a minimum of £18,600 a year. This is the case if someone is applying for a UK family visa as a spouse, and wishes to settle in the UK (otherwise known as obtaining “indefinite leave to remain” status) within five years.

This minimum income requirement, however, will go up to £29,000 on 11th April 2024, before increasing again to approximately £34,500 at a currently unspecified time later in 2024, and finally to around £38,700 “by early 2025”. Such steep rises in a relatively short space of time may have major implications for when you decide to submit a spousal visa application, if this is a UK immigration route that interests you.

Our award-winning specialists can project-manage your application for a UK visa

Based in central London, our professional and friendly experts in UK immigration law here at Cranbrook Legal would be pleased to take on your case if you are looking to apply for a UK visa. We have an excellent track record of helping our clients to get approved for a visa to the UK, including in cases where they apply to bring dependants with them.

Furthermore, we operate on a pre-agreed fixed-fee basis for most of our immigration services. This could help make it easier for you to budget, as you look to secure the visa that will enable you to begin – or continue – an exciting and rewarding life in the UK. To learn more about our services and expertise, please call our award-winning team on 0208 215 0053 today, or fill in and submit our online form to ask for a free consultation.

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