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Understanding the New UK Student Visa Dependant Rules for 2024

Thursday May 9, 2024

Immigration Law

As of this year, significant changes have been made to the UK Student visa route, affecting international students and their ability to bring family members with them as dependants. If you are planning to apply for a UK Student visa, it’s crucial to understand these new regulations and how they may impact your plans. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the updated rules:

New Regulations on Student Visa Dependants

Effective Date: The new rules apply to anyone applying for a UK Student visa on or after January 1, 2024, so are integral for those applying to start university in September 2024.

General Restriction: Most international students will no longer be able to bring family members as dependents to the UK.

Purpose: According to the Home Office, these changes aim to reduce the number of family members accompanying student visa holders to the UK.

Who Do the New Rules Apply To?

Course Start Date: The restrictions apply to courses that commence on or after January 1, 2024, so will be key to those looking to start university in the UK in September for the new student year.


  • Government-Sponsored Students: Students sponsored by their government for courses longer than six months are exempt.
  • Postgraduate Research Students: Those enrolled in full-time postgraduate courses, including PhD (RQF level 8) or other research-based higher degrees, can still bring dependants.

Existing Student Dependants

Current Visa Holders: The new rules do not affect those already in the UK with valid leave as student visa dependants. These individuals can apply to extend their dependant visas, as long as the main student visa holder’s course started before January 1, 2024, and their visa is still valid.

Switching Visa Categories: Existing dependants may consider switching to another visa category, such as the Health & Care Worker or Skilled Worker visa, if eligible. However, it’s important to note that parents of student visa holders are not eligible to switch to a Skilled Worker visa from a dependant visa.

Deferred Courses

Students Deferring to September 2024: If you were offered a place on a course starting in September 2023 but deferred until September 2024, the new rules will apply to your dependents.

Graduate Route

Switching to the Graduate Route: Student visa holders transitioning to the Graduate route can have their family members apply to stay in the UK as dependants, provided they have been living in the UK with the main student visa holder during their studies. If the dependants did not reside with the student during their course, they are not eligible to apply as dependants under the Graduate route.

Skilled Worker Route

Switching to the Skilled Worker Route: Family members of students who switch to the Skilled Worker route must apply from overseas to join the main visa holder in the UK, adhering to the current rules for Skilled Worker dependants.

Need Assistance?

Navigating these new regulations can be complex. If you need assistance or guidance on how to join a family member in the UK under these new rules, please contact our immigration solicitors for personalised advice and support.

Understanding these updates is essential for planning your study and family arrangements in the UK. Stay informed and prepared to ensure a smooth transition under the new guidelines.

As of this year, significant changes have been made to the UK Student visa route, affecting international students and their ability to bring family members with them.