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

Last updated: 13 October 2021

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

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When it comes to business visas and work visas it is vital to understand that entrepreneurs, business owners and prospective employees come with families who don’t want to be left overseas whilst their loved one sets up a new business or takes up employment in the UK. In this article we look at dependant visas and whether you can bring your family to the UK if you secure a business or work visa. 

Jump to:

  1. What is a dependant visa? 
  2. What is classed as a business or work visa?
  3. Who qualifies as the dependant of a business visa or work visa applicant?
  4. What type of partner counts as a dependant of a work visa or business visa applicant?
  5. What are the Immigration Rules on dependant child visa applicants?
  6. What is the maintenance requirement for dependant visa applicants?
  7. How much does a dependant visa cost?
  8. Can a dependant work on a dependant visa?
  9. Can a dependant child receive state education in the UK?
  10. Can a dependant access UK public resources?
  11. What documents are needed for a dependant visa application?  
  12. How long does a dependant visa last for?
  13. Can you settle in the UK on a dependant visa?

What is a dependant visa? 

A dependant visa enables the family member of the business or work visa applicant to apply to enter the UK at the same time, or at a later date, to the business or work visa applicant. A dependant visa 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.  

What is classed as a business or work visa?

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

If the main visa applicant has secured or is applying for one of the above work visa or business visas their dependant is referred to as a points-based system dependant. That is because both applications are determined under the new UK points-based immigration system.      

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

The immigration rules define a dependant on a work visa or a business visa as: 

  • A husband, wife, spouse, civil partner or partner 
  • Your child if they are under the age of eighteen 
  • Your child if they are over the age of eighteen but 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.   

What type of partner counts as a dependant of a work visa or business visa applicant?

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’ thus including 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 two 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?

When it comes to dependant child visa applications the Immigration Rules are quite complex if you are a single parent. The Immigration Rules say that if a dependant child applies for a dependant visa then:

  • 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 three scenarios applies to the family situation.

The three scenarios are:

  • The work visa or business visa applicant is the child applicant’s sole surviving parent or
  • The business or work visa applicant is the parent that has and has had sole responsibility for the dependant child’s upbringing or
  • 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 dependant visa applicants must meet the maintenance requirement and be able to evidence it. The maintenance requirement is meant to demonstrate that the dependant will be able to support themselves during their stay in the UK without needing help from 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. 

Information on the maintenance requirement for some of the different types of work and business visa are set out below: 

Type of business or work visa applied for by the main visa applicant Amount of maintenance requirement funds required by each dependant applying for a dependant visa. 
Investor visa No maintenance requirement for the dependant visa applicant. 
Global talent visa No maintenance requirement for the dependant visa applicant. 
Tier 2 work visa – intra company transfer visa or skilled worker visa  Each dependant must have £630 to support themselves. The requirement can be met by having savings of £630 which must have been held for at least three months prior to the date of application, or if the sponsoring employer has an A-rated Home Office sponsor licence the employer can provide a written undertaking that, should it become necessary, they will maintain and accommodate the family member for a month.   
 
The undertaking may be limited provided the limit is at least £630 per family member. The sponsoring employer can provide the undertaking by endorsing the certification on the certificate of sponsorship or providing the certification in a letter from the sponsor including the company name and details of any limit.   
 
A Tier 2 visa applicant has to show that they meet their own maintenance requirement (currently £945) plus the extra £630 for their spouse or partner and an additional £630 for each dependant child. For a family of four that equates to a maintenance requirement of £2,835 in total available funds. 
Innovator visa An innovator visa applicant has to show that they meet their own maintenance requirement (currently £945) plus an extra £630 for their spouse or partner and an additional £630 for each dependant child.   
 
The funds can be evidenced by proof that funds have been held for at least three months or by the Endorsing Body confirming that the innovator visa applicant has sufficient maintenance funds for themselves and their dependents. 
Start-up visa A start-up visa applicant has to demonstrate that they meet their own maintenance requirement (currently £945) plus an additional £630 for their partner and an additional £630 for each dependant child.   
 
The funds can be evidenced by proof that monies have been held by the visa applicant for at least three months or by the Endorsing Body confirming that the start-up visa applicant has sufficient maintenance funds for themselves and their dependents. 

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 dependant visa application fee other costs may be incurred such as: 

  • 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 that a dependant visa holder can work on a dependant visa. A dependant is not restricted to getting a job with a Home Office approved sponsored employer. 

Can a dependant child receive state education in the UK?

If a child secures a dependant visa, then this means that they 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 can’t 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 your 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 ninety days prior to the application. 
  • If the main applicant is a sponsored employee the main applicant’s certificate of sponsorship will be required.     

How long does a dependant visa last for?

If a husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner secures a dependant visa then the visa will be 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 two) the first parent’s visa expires.  

Can you 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. 

If you are contemplating making a business or work visa application and need advice on dependant visas for your family or if you’re a UK employer wanting to promote overseas recruitment through the availability of dependant visas our business immigration law solicitors can help. 

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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 enquiries@hjsolicitors.co.uk  or fill out the short form below with your enquiry.

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