Important Update 4th December 2023

A statement made this evening by James Cleverley, the UK Home Secretary, will have a massive impact on Graduate Visas in 2024 and beyond. In the statement, a series of amendments to the UK immigration system were announced. Amongst these changes was a review of Graduate Visas.

While there have not been any specific details provided to date, it’s likely that the review will focus on so-called ‘abuse’ of the system. Given historical precedents and the direction of the government immigration policy, it’s likely that this review will restrict Graduate Visa holders from bringing dependant partners or children with them. This would be consistent with the recent changes to student visas that revoke the privilege of international students to bring their dependants unless enrolled in postgraduate research programs. The other potential changes could be to their definition of acceptable qualifications, approved universities, and possible changes to the duration of the visa.

We appreciate these changes are concerning developments and may have far-reaching implications for many students and their families. If you plan on applying for a Graduate Visa or Graduate Dependant Visa in the next 12 months, we recommend contacting us at your earliest convenience to discuss your circumstances and how you should proceed.

21st December Update

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will commence a review of Graduate Visas in January 2024. The review will focus on “the visa route to ensure that it is operating in the best interests and priorities of the UK, and ensuring the integrity and quality of the UK higher education system is maintained.”  The review is expected to run for most of 2024, so it’s not anticipated there will be any immediate changes in the short to medium term.

What is a UK Graduate Dependant Visa?

A UK Graduate Dependant visa is a type of visa that allows dependants to remain in the UK alongside the main applicant on the Graduate visa. The Graduate visa is only available to applicants who have completed an acceptable qualification and are currently inside the UK on a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student visa, so the application must be made from inside the UK. This also means the Graduate Dependant visa application must be made at the same time as the main applicant. If the application is successful, the dependants will be issued a visa for 2 or 3 years, depending on the academic qualification obtained. The visa gives dependants the flexibility to work, study, and live in the UK, although they won’t be able to access any public funds or benefits.

UK Graduate Dependant Visa Eligibility

You must only meet the relationship requirement to qualify for a UK Graduate Dependant visa. This means you must be the spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, or dependent child of the main applicant applying for the UK Graduate visa. As you will have been in the UK for over 12 months, there isn’t any financial requirement, and there is no English language requirement for dependants. However, you should be aware that for subsequent applications related to residency and citizenship, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency.

 

Relationship Requirement

Partners

To be eligible for a Graduate Dependant visa, your partner must have been a dependant on your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa. Additionally, you need to demonstrate that you’re still in a relationship.

You must be able to demonstrate one of the following:

  • You are in a civil partnership or marriage
  • You have been living together in a relationship for a minimum of 2 years at the time of application

 

Children Under 18 Years Old

Any children are typically required to have been a dependant on your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa to be eligible for a Graduate Dependant visa. However, there are exceptions to this requirement if both of the following conditions are met:

  • Your child was born while you were in the UK on your current Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • Your child was born in the UK.

In such cases, your child doesn’t need to have been a dependant on your visa. However, you will still need to provide evidence to establish that they are your child.

 

Children Over 18 Years Old

The eligibility criteria for a dependent child over 18 years old are as follows:

  • They must have been a dependant on your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • They must live with you unless they are enrolled in full-time education at a boarding school, college, or university.
  • They must not be married, in a civil partnership, or have any children.
  • You must financially support them.

If your child lives with you, you must provide evidence of their address, including documents such as a bank statement, credit card bills, driving licence, NHS registration document, or an official letter from their university or college.

Documents Required for a UK Graduate Dependant Visa

The following documents are required when making an application. The exact requirements will vary based on your circumstances:

  • Valid passport: A valid passport should be submitted for each dependant family member applying for the visa. The passport should have at least six months of validity remaining.
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP): If any dependants were issued a biometric residence permit (BRP) when they applied to be a dependant on the Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa, it should be provided as part of this application.
  • Proof of relationship: To establish the relationship between the main applicant and each dependant, it is necessary to provide suitable documentation. This may include marriage certificates, civil partnership certificates, or evidence of cohabitation for at least 2 years in the case of unmarried partners. The cohabitation documents should cover the period of the past two years and should come from various sources. For dependant children, birth certificates or adoption certificates will be required. Additionally, proof of address must be provided for children aged 18 years or older to demonstrate that they reside with the main applicant.
  • Financial documentation: If your partner or child had their living costs covered by a scholarship or sponsorship provider in the past 12 months, they will require a letter from the provider endorsing their Graduate visa application.

Rights and Permissions Under a UK Graduate Dependant Visa

The Graduate Dependant visa provides several benefits to its holders, granting them rights related to work, study, and general freedoms.

Visa holders have the ability to:

  • Engage in full-time or part-time employment with any employer without requiring sponsorship.
  • Pursue education on a full-time or part-time basis at recognized schools, colleges, or universities in the UK.
  • Enjoy the freedom to enter and exit the UK at their discretion.
  • Apply for visa extensions to extend their stay in the UK.

It’s important to note that there are certain limitations to the visa, particularly regarding access to public funds:

  • Graduate dependant visa holders generally do not have access to most UK public funds, including welfare benefits and social housing.
  • However, there are exceptions, such as access to healthcare services provided by the National Health Service (NHS).

UK Graduate Dependant Visa Fees

The fees for a Graduate Dependant Visa are the same as for the main applicant, meaning each dependant must pay an application fee of £822.

Apart from the application fees, there are also other additional fees associated with the application process:

  • Biometric appointment fee: You can schedule biometric appointments online without charge if you book them well in advance. However, if you need to arrange a last-minute appointment, there may be a fee of up to £250.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): Dependant Skilled Worker Visa holders must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The current fees are £624 per year for each adult and £470 per year for each child under 18 years old.

Graduate Dependant Visa Processing Time

The processing time for an application begins once it is submitted online and your biometric information is provided at the scheduled appointment. In most cases, applications are assessed and processed within 8 weeks from this point. It may be possible to pay an additional fee to expedite your application and get a decision within 1 or 5 days.