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PBS Dependant Guidance

A PBS dependant visa gives permission to enter and remain in the UK to 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 a Tier 1, 2 or 5, Skilled Worker or ICT PBS migrant or a Start-Up, Innovator or Global Talent Appendix W Worker. This includes Health and Care Visa applicants.

To apply as a Skilled Worker dependant, ICT dependant or any other kind of PBS visa dependant, you will need to meet certain visa requirements.


What is a PBS dependant?

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

  • A direct relation to the main applicant holding or applying to hold one of the qualifying visa routes (as above).
  • 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.


What is leave to enter or remain as a PBS dependant?

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
  • Study full-time or part-time
  • 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, doctor or dentist, work as a dependent of a Tier 4 General Student or study without an ATAS if aged 18 or turning 18 within the visa period.


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.


Maintenance funds as a PBS dependant

In addition, unless the main applicant or visa holder is a Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or Global Talent migrant, either you or your partner must show that you have sufficient funds to support you for the entire duration of your stay in the UK, as you will not have access to public funds such as benefits.

The level of funds will vary depending on which visa your partner is applying for or holding.


Main applicant visa category  Level of maintenance funds 
Family members of  Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants If the Tier 1 migrant is outside the UK or has been present in the UK for less than 12 months, you must show that you, the Tier 1 migrant, or (for children) your other parent have at least £1890 to support you; this is in addition to any funds the Tier 1 migrant needs to prove they have enough money to support themselves.

If the Tier 1 migrant has been in the UK for 12 months or more, you must have £630 to support yourself.

A Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) cannot rely on the same funds used to meet the attributes requirement for maintenance requirements to satisfy the PBS dependant maintenance funds.

Family members of Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or Global Talent migrants No maintenance requirement applies.
Family members of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrants If the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) is outside the UK or has been present in the UK for less than 12 months, you must have £1260 to support yourself.

If the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) has been in the UK for 12 months or more, you must have £630 to support yourself.

This requirement can be met by either having savings of £1260 or £630 where the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) has been in the UK for 12 months or more, which must have been held for at least a 90 consecutive day period prior to the date of application; or providing an endorsement letter from the Department for International Trade confirming that it has awarded funding that is at least sufficient to cover the required maintenance funds for the main applicant, you and any other PBS Dependants.

Family member of a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker Migrant You must have £630 to support yourself.

This can be from savings that have been held for a minimum of 3 months prior to application, or a written undertaking that the main applicant’s A’rated sponsoring employer (where eligible) will provide the funds if necessary.

Family member of a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Family members of Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) migrants must have £630 to support themselves.

This may be met through having savings at this level held for at least 3 months prior to application or written undertaking from the main applicant’s A’rated sponsor that they will provide the funds if necessary.

Family member of an Innovator or Start-up Worker in Appendix W You must have £630 to support yourself.

This 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 being a Start-up or Innovator whose endorsement letter confirms the applicant has enough funds for themselves and their dependants do not need to demonstrate maintenance separately.



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.


PBS dependant visa 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, such as if applying for entry clearance as a spouse or partner of a Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Tier 1 Investor, Tier 2 General role in health, education or social care sector
  • 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.


How long can PBS dependants stay in the UK?

Partners 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

A PBS dependant visa application costs £610 and should be made online from your country of origin, unless you are applying to extend a visa that you currently hold within the UK. You will need to include your biometric information which may be obtained from a visa application centre.

An application to extend or switch visa inside the UK will cost £704 per person online. To use a premium service centre the fee would be £1,314 per person. Your biometric information can be obtained from participating post offices for a fee of £19.20.

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.

Unless the main applicant or visa holder is a Tier 1 or Global Talent migrant, 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.



Can I work in the UK on a dependant visa?

PBS dependants are allowed to work in the UK, with a few exceptions.

You may not work as a professional sportsperson, including coaching, or a doctor or dentist in training unless you have obtained a primary degree within the UK.


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.


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?

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 will need to re-submit your biometric data and need to provide your certificate of sponsorship. You will 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.


Can a PBS dependant apply for ILR?

Tier 2 dependant spouses and partners can apply for UK indefinite leave to remain where they meet the qualifying criteria.

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).

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.

Family members of a Tier 2 and Tier 5 PBS migrant applying in the UK may apply online or by using the equivalent paper application form.


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: 28 December 2020

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