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Bringing your family

Family walking in the grounds of Cardiff Castle, Wales

I am studying in the UK. Can I bring my family with me?

Some international students on a study visa are eligible to bring their dependants with them to the UK when they study.

According to the UK Home Office definition, ‘dependant’ refers to:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner;
  • your unmarried or same-sex partner;
  • your child if they are under 18 years old.

If you are considering bringing your dependants with you, check that your immigration status allows this.

'Your family members (dependants) might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

You can apply to bring a dependant to the UK if you’re:

  • sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at NQF level 7 or above (NQF level 7 means master's, doctorates and other postgraduate courses  see here for details) that lasts 1 year or more
  • a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts 6 months or longer
  • a Doctorate Extension Scheme student.

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK. Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them – this is in addition to the money you must have to support yourself.'

Please visit the UK Visas and Immigration website for full information.

Can my children go to school in the UK?

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. Find out more on the UKCISA website.

For a general overview of UK schools, and to find out about independent and boarding schools, have a look at our section Education for students aged 16 and under.

What about childcare?

For childcare, some of the bigger universities and colleges have nursery facilities on site, which are often competitively priced. Alternatively, your international student office may be able to help you find local childcare facilities.

Find out more

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) can provide you with guidance on bringing your family. Phone +44 (0)20 7107 9922 or visit the UKCISA website.