PBS Dependants: What are the rules for family members of points-based system migrants?

A PBS dependant is a family member of a person who has a valid UK visa under the points-based system (PBS) under Tiers 1, 2 ,4 or 5 and who wishes to apply for permission to enter and remain in the UK for a limited period.

Specific rules are in force as to how PBS dependants can apply to enter and remain in the UK.

Do you qualify for limited leave to remain as a PBS dependant?

For UK visa purposes, a dependant is classed as:

  • A direct relation to an individual holding or applying to hold either a Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 visa under the UK points-based system, or
  • 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 in Tier 1, 2, or 5 of the PBS, or
  • A minor child of a person with UK ILR or British citizenship who last held leave in Tier 1, 2, or 5 of the PBS 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, including the requirement for both parents to be lawfully present in the UK, not as visitors, or be seeking entry clearance or leave to remain at the same time as the dependant child, or one parent must be lawfully present in the UK while the other is applying for leave to remain or entry clearance at the same time as the applicant.

Tier 1,2, or 5 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.

A Tier 4 (General) family member may be able to apply within the UK for a PBS dependant visa, but this will be determined by the current leave status  and the type of course being undertaken on the visa.

What maintenance funds are required to qualify as a PBS dependant?

Family members of PBS migrants must be able to support themselves for the duration of their stay in the UK, without help from public funds such as benefits.

Tier 1 (General), (Entrepreneur) and (Post Study Work) migrants will need to have at least £1890 to support each PBS dependant, in addition to the amount required to prove they can support themselves according to their visa conditions.

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.

Dependants of Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrants do not need to satisfy a maintenance requirement.

A family member of a Tier 2 migrant must be able to they have £630 to support themselves. This can be from savings that have been held for a minimum of 3 months prior to application, or a written undertaking that the Tier 2 visa holder’s sponsoring employer (where eligible) will provide the funds if necessary.

The Tier 4 (General) Student family member maintenance requirements will depend on the length of the visa holder’s leave where they are studying and if they are on or applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme. A dependant of a Tier 4 student on a Doctorate Extension Scheme will need to demonstrate they have maintenance funds for a period of 2 months.

The course-based dependant will need £845 a month if in London or £680 a month if outside of London to support themselves. You will need to provide evidence that you have this funding for the period you would be granted leave.

Family members of Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) migrants must have £630 to support themselves. This may be through having savings at this level that have been held for at least 3 months prior to application or from the visa holder’s sponsoring employer (where eligible).

How long can PBS dependants stay in the UK?

Partners of the main PBS visa holder (ie your ‘sponsor’) 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. You may apply to extend your visa to reach the qualifying period of 5 years to apply for indefinite leave to remain yourself.

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.

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.

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.

A Tier 4 family member will not be able to work in the UK if the period of study for the Tier 4 (General) student is less than 9 months, or if the Tier 4 migrant is on a course studying below a degree level.

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 my sponsor’s visa?

If your sponsor 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.

Can I apply to extend my leave as a PBS dependant?

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 Tier 2 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.

Tier 4 family members may only apply online, but Tier 1 PBS migrant family members applying in the UK must make their PBS dependant application using the paper form.

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

A dependant chid 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 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 Points Based System 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.