PBS Dependant Visa Guidance

pbs dependant visa


A PBS dependant visa, or Family Member of a PBS Migrant visa as it is also known, gives permission to enter and remain in the UK to certain family members of individuals who have or are applying for a UK visa under the points-based system (PBS).

The ‘main applicant’ or ‘visa holder’ must be, or be in the process of applying to become, a PBS migrant under points-based visas such as the Skilled Worker Visa, Health and Care Visa and Student Visa.

In this guide, we explain what the PBS dependant visa is, as well as the rules and requirements to make a PBS dependant visa application.


What is PBS in UK immigration?

PBS stands for points based system. It refers to the UK’s system for assessing immigration applications using points based on applicants meeting the relevant visa category eligibitility criteria.


What is a PBS dependant?

For UK visa purposes, a PBS dependant is classed as:

  • The spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or same sex partner of the main applicant holding or applying to hold one of the qualifying visa routes.
  • An individual who does not yet qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain but is married to or in a relationship with an individual with UK Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship who last held leave under one of the qualifying visa routes.
  • A minor child of a person with UK ILR or British citizenship who last held leave in one of the qualifying routes and the other parent does not qualify for indefinite leave to remain but last held leave as a PBS dependant granted on or after 9 July 2012. Further rules apply to dependant children, please see below.


Sponsored migrant family members cannot apply for a PBS dependant visa in the UK if they were last granted entry clearance or leave as a visitor, or were last granted leave as a short-term student, parent of, or child of a short-term student.


Which visas can be accompanied by dependants?

PBS dependant visas are for qualifying family members of ‘lead applicants’ or ‘primary visa holders’; these terms refer to the individual applying for, or with, valid permission under one of the following routes:

  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Health and Care Worker Visa
  • GBM Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
  • GBM Graduate Trainee Visa
  • GBM Service Supplier Visa
  • GBM UK Expansion Worker Visa
  • GBM Graduate Trainee Visa
  • Global Talent
  • High Potential Individual
  • Innovator
  • Start-up
  • Scale-up
  • Temporary Work routes including:
    • Creative Worker
    • Religious Worker
    • Charity Worker
    • Government Authorised Exchange
    • International Agreement
  • International Sportsperson Visa
  • Graduate Visa
  • Minister of Religion Visa
  • Start-up visa
  • Entrepreneur Visa (Tier 1)
  • UK Ancestry Visa
  • Investor Visa
  • Turkish Worker Visa
  • British National (Overseas) Visa
  • Turkish Businessperson Visa


Note that following a change in the rules announced in July 2023, student visa holders with courses starting after 1 January 2024 cannot be accompanied by dependants, unless they are studying a postgraduate research programme.


What are PBS dependants allowed to do in the UK?

With leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK as a PBS dependant, you will be permitted to:

  • Work full-time or part-time, including employment, self-employment and voluntary work, with one exception (see below)
  • Study full-time or part-time, subject to meeting the ATAS condition prohibiting study of certain disciplines under Appendix ATAS of the Immigration Rules, unless you have obtained an ATAS certificate prior to starting the course.
  • Leave and re-enter the UK while your visa is valid.
  • Apply to extend your visa
  • Apply for UK indefinite leave to remain one you have met the residency requirement, with the exception of Tier 4 General Student PBS dependants.


You will not, however, be allowed to:

  • Claim public benefits
  • Work as a professional sportsperson, unless the main applicant has leave under a UK Ancestry visa. 


What are the PBS dependant requirements?

Primarily, you need to show you qualify as one of the following relations to a PBS main applicant or visa holder (ie your ‘sponsor’):

  • Spouse, in a legally recognised marriage and where you are both 18 years of age or over.
  • Unmarried partner who has been cohabiting for at least 2 continuous years with the PBS visa holder. 
  • Child who is unmarried and under the age of 18 when making the initial visa application.


Financial requirement

Dependant applicants may have to show minimum funds to support their application, unless the route requires evidence of adequate maintenance and accommodation or unless applying for permission to stay and you have been living in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of application.

The amount required will depend on the route of the main applicant. For example, under the Skilled Worker route, dependants will need to show they have the following to be able to support themselves while in the UK:

  • £285 as a partner
  • £315 per child
  • £200 for each additional child


The funds must have been available for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of you or them applying for this visa.

Family members of people who have settled or have been granted British citizenship cannot have maintenance certified by a sponsor and must always show cash funds.


Issues with proving financial funds

When making your application, ensure you avoid these common issues when evidencing the financial requirement:


Insufficient funds demonstrated

If the evidence provided does not prove sufficient funds to support the whole family unit, all applications will be refused.


Funds not shown by sponsor

If applying as dependants under the Temporary Worker routes, the Global Business Mobility routes, the T2 Minister of Religion route, the International Sportsperson route, the Scale-up route and the Skilled Worker, it is possible to rely on the primary visa holder’s sponsor to meet the financial requirement on the applicants’ behalf, but there must be sufficient evidence of this within the application.


Attempt to use funds more than once

It is against the rules to rely on the same funds for multiple visa applications being made at the same time.


Funds not held for 28 days

The funds being relied on must have been held for at least 28 days prior to submitting the application.


Failure to maintain and accommodate

Both the Representative of an Overseas Business route and the UK Ancestry route require applicants to show that the family unit can maintain and accommodate themselves without availing of government benefits, or the applications can be refused.


What is ‘certifying maintenance’?

Certifying maintenance is where a sponsor/employer is pledging to maintain and accommodate the worker up to the end of their first month of employment in the UK. The amount can be set by the employer, but must be no less than £1270. Where an employer certifies maintenance, the visa applicant does not have to provide any further evidence of their finances.

The main visa holder/applicant’s employer may agree to ‘certify’ that the applicant meets the financial requirement. This is done by ticking the maintenance box on the sponsored worker’s Certificate of Sponsorship. Where there are also dependants, the sponsor can decide whether or not to extend this to the worker’s dependants. If the sponsor is not certifying for the dependants, the sponsor is required to add a Sponsor Note after assigning the CoS to the worker.

Dependants of those who have settled or have been granted British citizenship are not allowed to have their maintenance certified by a sponsor, but instead always have to show cash funds.


Police registration

You may also be required to register with the police. Part 10 of the Immigration Rules specifies that ‘relevant foreign nationals’ who must register with the Police include those who are:

  • 16 years or over
  • A national of a country listed in Appendix 2
  • Stateless person
  • Holding a non-national travel document


Criminal record certificate requirement

If the main applicant or worker under the Skilled Worker route is working in any of the occupations below, their PBS dependant partner is required to submit a criminal record certificate from the appropriate authority in any countries where they have been present for 12 months or more – in total or continuously within the 10 years preceding the date of application, and while they were aged 18 or over.


Occupational code

Job role

1181 Health services and public health managers and directors
1184 Social services managers and directors
1241 Health care practice managers
1242 Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
2211 Medical practitioners
2212 Psychologists
2213 Pharmacists
2214 Ophthalmic opticians
2215 Dental practitioners
2217 Medical radiographers
2218 Podiatrists
2219 Health professionals not elsewhere classified
2221 Physiotherapists
2222 Occupational therapists
2223 Speech and language therapists
2229 Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified
2231 Nurses
2232 Midwives
2312 Further education teaching professionals
2314 Secondary education teaching professionals
2315 Primary and nursery education teaching professionals
2316 Special needs education teaching professionals
2317 Senior professionals of educational establishments
2318 Education advisers and school inspectors
2319 Teaching and other educational professionals not elsewhere classified
2442 Social workers
2443 Probation officers
2449 Welfare professionals not elsewhere classified
3213 Paramedics
3216 Dispensing opticians
3217 Pharmaceutical technicians
3218 Medical and dental technicians
3219 Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
3231 Youth and community workers
3234 Housing officers
3235 Counsellors
3239 Welfare and housing associate professionals not elsewhere classified
3443 Fitness instructors
3562 Human resources and industrial relations officers
6121 Nursery nurses and assistants
6122 Childminders and related occupations
6123 Playworkers
6125 Teaching assistants
6126 Educational support assistants
6141 Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
6143 Dental nurses
6144 Houseparents and residential wardens
6146 Senior care workers



Exceptional dependant applications

The Rules allow for In cases where the applicant does not meet the PBS dependant requirements, it may be possible to make an application for Leave Outside the Immigration Rules. This will require the applicant to show ‘exceptional, compelling and compassionate’ circumstances.


Applying for the PBS dependant visa

To qualify as a dependant of a PBS visa holder, you will need to make an application online for leave to enter if you are outside the UK, or leave to remain if you are already in the UK with lawful status. The application has to evidence your eligibility as a dependant and your suitability.

You will need to include your biometric information which may be submitted at a visa application centre.


PBS dependant visa supporting documents list

Your visa application will require you to submit supporting documentation. The exact list will depend on your circumstances and the basis of your eligibility, but in general, you should provide:

  • Evidence of qualifying relationship with the PBS visa holder, for example, spouses could provide:
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificates
  • Joint bank statements in both names
  • Shared council tax bills in both names
  • Shared utility bills in both names
  • Personal bank or building society statements covering the 90 day period immediately before the application
  • Criminal Record Certificate in certain circumstances (see below)
  • Proof of sufficient maintenance funds
  • The PBS worker’s Certificate of Sponsorship (if applicable)


How long is PBS dependant visa processing?

In general, you can expect to wait as follows for visa processing, however, pandemic restrictions may affect visa processing and applicants are advised to check leadtimes when making their application.

  • PBS dependant applications made outside the UK can take around 3 months, although this will depend on the specific processing centre handling the application.
  • Switching to the PBS dependant visa from within the UK, or applying to extend an existing PBS dependent visa can take up to 8 weeks under the standard service, up to 10 days under the paid-for priority service or the same day you apply with the premium service at a fee.
  • ILR applications from PBS dependants can take around six months.


Can PBS dependants work?

Yes, PBS dependants are allowed to work while in the UK, without restriction on the type of work they can undertake.


Can PBS dependants study in the UK?

A PBS dependent who is 18 or over and wishes to undertake study while in the UK will need to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate.


Can PBS dependants apply for ILR?

The primary visa holder and their dependants can become eligible to apply for UK indefinite leave to remain after five years of continuous residence in the UK, although some routes such as the investor visa offer shorter qualifying residency periods for ILR.


PBS dependants’ rights

Dependents, including minor children, will be permitted to join the primary applicant in residing in the UK, without any limitations, they are free to live and work in the UK. They will be given leave in accordance with the PBS migrant’s (or primary applicant’s) leave’s expiration date.


How long can PBS dependants stay in the UK?

Dependants of the main PBS visa holder will be granted leave in line with the expiry date of the PBS migrant’s leave, unless the main applicant has been granted indefinite leave to remain, in which case you would be granted a period of three years leave initially, after which you can apply to extend your visa to reach the qualifying period of 5 years to apply for indefinite leave to remain yourself.

Child of UK visa holders can stay during the visa period of the parent whose visa expires first. If the parents have an ILR or British citizenship, you are granted 3 years of the visa period.



PBS dependant visa fees

The PBS dependant visa application fee depends on the visa category the main applicant is applying under or currently holds.

Fees are subject to change and you are advised to check on the latest rates.


What are the child PBS dependant visa rules?

A PBS dependant child can include your own child, or your partner’s child. To qualify for entry clearance or leave to remain, the PBS dependant child must meet the following requirements:

  • Be under the age of 18 on the date of application. If aged 18 or over, they must have previously been granted leave as the family member of a PBS migrant, or someone applying at the same time for leave as a PBS migrant.
  • Both parents must be lawfully present in the UK, other than as visitors, or being granted entry clearance or leave to remain at the same time as the applicant.
  • Alternatively, one parent must be lawfully present in the UK where the other is being granted entry clearance or leave to remain at the same time as the applicant, unless:
    • You are the applicant’s sole surviving parent, or
    • You have, and have had, sole responsibility for the applicant’s upbringing, or
    • There are serious or compelling family or other considerations that would make it desirable not to refuse the application, and suitable arrangements have been made in the UK for the applicant’s care.


You must show sufficient funds to support the PBS dependant child during their stay in the UK.

A PBS dependant will not be considered a child family member where they fall into any one of the following categories:

  • They are married or in a civil partnership.
  • They have formed an independent family unit, for example, living with their partner or have children of their own.
  • They are living an independent life, for example, in full-time employment, financially independent or living away from home, unless this relates to schooling.


PBS dependent children will be granted leave to stay for the same period of time as the parent whose leave expires first. If both parents have the same amount of time granted, indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship, the applicant will be granted an initial stay of 3 years. Again, this brings the option to extend providing all conditions are still being met and you apply before your current visa expires.


Children from past relationships

Under the following visas, any dependnt children must either be jointly (with the dependant partner) or solely the responsibility of the lead applicant:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Innovator
  • Creative Worker
  • Religious Worker
  • Charity Worker

The following allow the partner to have sole responsibility:

  • Graduate
  • T2 Minister of Religion
  • Overseas Business Representative
  • UK Ancestry
  • Global Talent
  • Start up
  • International Sportsperson
  • International Agreement
  • Government Authorised Exchange
  • Global Business Mobility
  • High Potential Individual
  • Scale up


Under the Immigration Rules, “parent” is defined as:

  • the stepfather of a child whose father is dead, and reference to stepfather includes a relationship arising through civil partnership; and
  • the stepmother of a child whose mother is dead, and reference to stepmother includes a relationship arising through civil partnership; and
  • the father, as well as the mother, of an illegitimate child where the person is proved to be the father; and
  • an adoptive parent, where a child was adopted in accordance with a decision taken by the competent administrative authority or court in a country whose adoption orders are recognised by the UK or where a child is the subject of a de facto adoption in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 309A (except that an adopted child or a child who is the subject of a de facto adoption may not make an application for leave to enter or remain in order to accompany, join or remain with an adoptive parent under paragraphs 297 to 303); and
  • in the case of a child born in the UK who is not a British citizen, a person to whom there has been a genuine transfer of parental responsibility on the ground of the original parents’ inability to care for the child.


The Home Office caseworker guidance directs that, when assessing applications, consideration should be given to the welfare issues and the best interests of the child, including the following (albeit non-exhaustive list):

  • What is in the best interests of the child?
  • Are they normally living with the lead applicant and their biological parent who is the partner?
  • Do they have consent from the other natural parent to apply?


The guidance also states that where a child has already been granted a dependant visa of the primary applicant, only in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ should further permission not be given when determining the parental relationship.


What if there are changes to the sponsor’s visa?

If the main visa holder changes employer or educational institution while in the UK, they will be issued with a new certificate of sponsorship and will have to apply for a new visa. As a dependant, you do not need to apply with them and may remain in the UK until the validity period of your existing PBS dependant leave expires.

You may apply for leave to remain to bring your leave in line with the PBS migrant no more than 28 days before your current leave expires but you must apply before the current PBS dependant visa expires.

If the main visa holder’s permission to stay in the UK is revoked, or they decide to immigrate to a different country, this will affect the leave granted to the PBS dependant and they may also be required to leave. Take advice on your circumstances as you may need to switch categories by applying for new status to remain in the UK lawfully.


Can I apply for a PBS dependant visa extension?

PBS dependants should apply to extend their visa prior to its expiry to maintain lawful status.  Applications can be made at the same time as the main PBS visa holder or in advance of their own visa expiring.

You should be able to extend your PBS dependent visa providing that the conditions of the original visa are still being met by you and your sponsor. You must also be in the UK at the time you make your application.

You will also need to pay the health surcharge to cover medical care while you are in the UK.

You may need to provide evidence of your relationship with the PBS migrant again. You will need to provide evidence of employment, income and where you are living. This could be through bank statements, wage slips, PAYE statements, utility bills etc.

Note that if the primary visa holder has attained settlement through long residence and then naturalised as a British citizen, their partner must switch into the partner of a settled person category, and will not be allowed to extend their leave or apply for ILR as a PBS dependant.


Can a PBS dependant apply for ILR?

Dependant spouses and partners can apply for UK indefinite leave to remain under certain routes and where they meet the qualifying criteria.

Eligible routes for settlement

The following main and dependant visa holders can become eligible to apply for ILR:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Scale Up
  • Global Talent
  • Innovator
  • Ancestry
  • T2 Minister of Religion
  • Representative of Overseas Business
  • International Agreement – Private Servant


First, your sponsoring spouse, civil partner, or unmarried or same-sex partner must either be:

  • A UK settled person, ie they either have indefinite leave to remain as a Relevant Points Based System Migrant or are applying for ILR at the same time as you, or
  • Naturalised as a British citizen, prior to which they held ILR as a Relevant Point Based System Migrant.


In addition, you and your sponsor must have been living in the UK as a couple for a minimum period of five years prior to submitting your application.

ILR eligibility also requires you to pass the knowledge of life in the UK test and the English language test.

If you are eligible for ILR, your application is to be made using form Set (O). You must pay the requisite fee and be in the UK on the date your ILR application is submitted.

If you are applying as a PBS dependant of a person who has gone on to attain indefinite leave to remain or British Citizenship, you will need to complete the sections of the form relating to their last PBS immigration category. For example, if your partner now has indefinite leave to remain, and was previously a Tier 2 visa holder, you will need to apply as a dependent of a Tier 2 migrant.


What are the rules for a PBS dependent child applying for ILR?

A dependant child will be eligible to apply for ILR at the same time as their PBS migrant parent, or if that parent has already been granted ILR.

To qualify for ILR, the child must have either been granted leave as a dependant of the PBS migrant or their partner or have been born in the UK.

They may not apply if they are now married, in a civil partnership or have formed an independent family unit that is separate from the original family applications.

Applicants who are 18 years or older at the time of application will also need to satisfy the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirements.


Do you have a question about PBS dependant visa?

The rules relating to PBS dependants are complex and often subject to change. With much at stake, being unable to join your partner in the UK on an indefinite basis, it is always best to seek legal advice prior to submitting any application. The smallest error or incorrect document sent can lead to your application being rejected. It is always advisable to consult an immigration lawyer to ensure you have completed all relevant sections of the form correctly and included all the required documentation.

UK PBS visa applications are notoriously lengthy and complex. Taking professional legal advice can ensure you meet the relevant eligibility criteria and satisfy the procedural requirements when completing forms and submitting documentation.

DavidsonMorris are specialist UK immigration advisers, supporting individuals with all types of Home Office applications including points-based and dependant visas and indefinite leave to remain. If you have a question about a PBS dependant visa or your UK immigration status, contact us.


PBS dependant visa FAQs

What is PBS Dependant?

A PBS dependant is someone related to a person who is in the UK on a Points-based (PBS) visa. PBS dependants can apply for a visa on the basis of their qualifying relationship, and will be subject to specific conditions during their stay, including becoming eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Can a PBS Dependant study?

If you have a PBS dependant visa, you will be permitted to study part-time or full-time while in the UK. You can also work under the conditions of the visa.

What does dependant leave to enter mean?

Dependant leave to enter is the permission granted to allow you to enter the UK and stay for up to a specified period as the relative of someone who has a UK points-based visa.

What are the requirements for dependent visa in UK?

To qualify for a dependant visa, you must be either the spouse, unmarried partner of a long-lasting relationship or child under the age of 18 when making the initial visa application of a UK points-based visa holder.

Last updated: 2 January 2024


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

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