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Dependant visas: can you bring your family on a UK business visa?

When it comes to business visas and work visas our business immigration solicitors understand that entrepreneurs and skilled migrant workers often have families who want to join the main visa applicant in the UK. In this article we look at dependant visas and whether business and work visa applicants can bring their families to the UK. 

What is a dependant visa? 

A dependant visa enables the family member of a business or work visa applicant to apply to enter the UK at the same time, or at a later date, as the main visa applicant. A dependant visa applicant is reliant on the main visa applicant securing their visa. For more information, see the Home Office guidance on dependant family members in work routes.  

Which visas are classed as business or work visas?

A business or work visa falls within one of the tiers of visas in the immigration rules and includes: 

A business or work visa falls includes the: 

Who qualifies as the dependant of a business visa or work visa applicant?

The immigration rules define a dependant for visa purposes as: 

  • A husband, wife, spouse, civil partner, or partner 
  • Your child if they are under the age of 18 
  • Your child if they are over the age of 18 but are currently in the UK as a dependant 

A dependant cannot apply for a dependant visa from within the UK if they entered the UK on a visitor visa.   

The definition of a partner for a dependant visa

It is often assumed that an unmarried partner or children from an unmarried relationship won’t be able to join the main business or work visa applicant in the UK because the couple are not married to one another. That isn’t the case as the immigration rules refer to dependants as ‘partners’. The rules include those in unmarried relationships, whether or not they have children together. 

The immigration rules say that unmarried partners have to be able to demonstrate that: 

  • They have been living in a relationship akin to a marriage 
  • The relationship has lasted at least 2 years 
  • The relationship is genuine and subsisting 

A dependant who is in a married relationship or in a civil partnership will also need to be able to demonstrate that their relationship is genuine and subsisting. 

What are the immigration rules on dependant child visa applicants?

If the business or work visa applicant is a single parent the immigration rules on dependant child visa applications are complicated because the rules say:

  • Both of the child applicant’s parents must either be lawfully present (other than as a visitor) in the UK or be granted entry clearance or leave to remain (other than as a visitor) at the same time as the child applicant or
  • One parent must be lawfully present (other than as a visitor) in the UK and the other parent is being granted entry clearance or leave to remain (other than as a visitor) at the same time as the child applicant unless one of 3 scenarios applies to the family situation

The 3 scenarios are:

  1. The work visa or business visa applicant is the child’s sole surviving parent or
  2. The business or work visa applicant is the parent that has and has had sole responsibility for the dependant child’s upbringing or
  3. There are serious or compelling family or other considerations which would make it desirable not to refuse the application for the child dependant visa and suitable arrangements have been made in the UK for the child’s care

An application for a child dependant visa by one parent will not be granted by the Home Office unless the child’s circumstances are clearly demonstrated. It is therefore important to consider the immigration rules and the information required in support of the dependant visa application if you are intending to make a sole parent application for a dependant visa for your child.

What is the maintenance requirement for dependant visa applicants?

To successfully apply for a dependant visa, most applicants must meet the maintenance requirement and be able to evidence it. The maintenance requirement is intended to demonstrate that the dependant will be able to support themselves during their stay in the UK without recourse to public funds.

The amount of the maintenance requirement depends on the type of visa application that the business or work visa applicant is submitting to the Home Office. 

How much does a dependant visa cost?

The cost of a dependant visa depends on the nature of the visa that the main visa applicant has obtained or is applying for. The fee schedule can be found on the government website. In addition to the visa application fee other costs may be incurred, such as: 

  • Biometric residence permit fees 
  • Immigration health surcharge 
  • Home Office premium service fees if you want a dependant visa application to be processed quickly 

Can a dependant work on a dependant visa?

The immigration rules say a dependant visa holder can work in the UK. They are not restricted to getting a job with an employer with a sponsor licence. 

Can a child on a UK dependant visa receive state education in the UK?

If a child secures a dependant visa, the child can be enrolled in state education in the UK. Alternatively, the child can be enrolled in private education of your choosing. 

Can a dependant access UK public resources?

The immigration rules say that those in the UK on dependant visas cannot access public resources or benefits but there are some exceptions. As part of the dependant visa application process, all dependant visa applicants have to pay an immigration health surcharge. Payment of this surcharge enables access to National Health Service treatment whilst the visa is valid. 

What documents are needed for a dependant visa application?  

A dependant visa application is submitted online but needs to be supported by: 

  • Evidence of the relationship with the main visa applicant – this could be a birth certificate or civil partnership or marriage certificate. If the relationship is a cohabiting relationship, it is best to take legal advice from an immigration solicitor on the best evidence to prove the relationship   
  • Criminal record certificate - if the dependant visa applicant is applying as the dependant of a main applicant who is required to produce a criminal record check certificate as part of their visa application 
  • Evidence that the maintenance requirement is met – bank statements covering 90 days prior to the application 
  • Certificate of sponsorship if the main applicant is a sponsored employee

How long does a dependant visa last?

If a husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner secures a dependant visa then the visa is granted for the same period as the main business or work applicant’s visa. If a child secures a dependant visa the visa will normally expire when (if there are 2) the first parent’s visa expires.  

Can a dependant settle in the UK on a dependant visa?

Arrival in the UK on a dependant visa can lead to eventual settlement in the UK through an application for indefinite leave to remain.  The success of the application is subject to the applicant meeting the general eligibility criteria for indefinite leave to remain and the residence requirement. 

About our expert

Fozia Iqbal

Fozia Iqbal

Senior Business Immigration Solicitor
Fozia has been practising in the field of immigration law for over 20 years, specialising in Business Immigration since 2015. Fozia has advised an array of businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, owner-managed businesses through to SMEs, as well as individuals looking for immigration solutions. With a range of experience across the board, it is unusual for her to come across an immigration issue that she cannot tackle. 

Areas of Expertise

What next?

For further advice on dependant visas and business work visas, rely on our team of business immigration solicitors. Call us on 0800 689 1700, email us at  or fill out the short form below with your enquiry.

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