Switching from Student Visa to Dependent Visa

student to skilled worker switching


Switching from a student visa to a dependant visa allows individuals who have been studying in the UK to stay with close family members who are already living in the country with a valid visa.

The process of switching means you do not have to leave the UK to apply, provided you make the application before your current visa expires.

As well as timing considerations, you will also need to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements to qualify as a dependant, and that you evidence this adequately in your application.

In this guide, we explain the criteria and steps involved in making the switch from student to dependant visa holder to give you the best chance of making a successful application.


Section A: Eligibility Criteria


Switching from a student visa to a dependent visa in the UK involves meeting specific eligibility requirements, as set by the UK Home Office.


1. General Eligibility Requirements

The general eligibility criteria are used to ensure that the category switch is justified and that, as a dependant, you can be adequately supported by your UK-based family member without recourse to public funds. These requirements include:


a. Current Visa Status

To be eligible, you must hold a valid student visa at the time of your application. This is to ensure that you are legally residing in the UK and have followed the correct procedures for your initial entry and stay in the country.


b. Relationship to the Main Visa Holder

Dependant visas are issued to individuals who have a legitimate and substantial relationship with the primary visa holder. You must be a close family member of the main visa holder who holds a valid UK visa. The definition of close family members typically includes spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, and children.


c. Proof of Relationship

Evidence of your relationship to the main visa holder will need to be provided. For spouses and civil partners, this would include marriage or civil partnership certificates. For unmarried partners, you need to provide documents that prove a long-term relationship, such as cohabitation documents or joint financial commitments. Children must provide birth certificates or adoption papers.


d. Financial Requirements

You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself without needing public funds, such as proof of savings, income, or financial support from the main visa holder.


e. Intent to Live Together

You must show an intention to live with the main visa holder in the UK, such as through rental agreements, joint bank accounts, or other documents that indicate shared responsibilities and living arrangements.


2. Specific Conditions for Dependants


Switching from a student visa to a dependent visa involves meeting particular conditions tailored to different types of dependants:


a. Spouses and Civil Partners

Both parties must be over 18 years old at the time of application. This criterion ensures that both individuals are legally adults capable of entering into a binding relationship under UK law.

Your marriage or civil partnership must be legally recognised in the UK, which may involve verifying foreign marriage certificates through the appropriate authorities.

You must also demonstrate that you are in a genuine and subsisting relationship by providing a marriage or civil partnership certificate and evidence of living together. This proof can include joint utility bills, shared rental agreements, and other documents showing cohabitation.


b. Unmarried Partners

Unmarried partners must provide evidence of living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years. This evidence can include shared bills, joint tenancy agreements, joint bank accounts, and other documentation that proves a shared life.

Demonstrating the authenticity of the relationship may involve personal statements, photographs, travel itineraries, and other supporting documents that show a committed relationship. The UK Home Office may require detailed evidence to confirm the relationship’s genuineness.


c. Children

Dependent children must be under 18 years old at the time of application.
You will need to provide a birth certificate or adoption certificate to prove your relationship with the child.

Both parents must be present in the UK, or you must have sole responsibility for the child if applying alone to ensure that the child’s welfare is adequately managed and that there is a clear custodial arrangement.

You must also demonstrate that you can financially support the child without recourse to public funds, such as providing evidence of income or savings sufficient to cover living expenses.


3. Additional Considerations


When switching from a student visa to a dependant visa, several additional considerations must be taken into account to ensure a successful application.


a. Immigration Healthcare Surcharge

One of the key additional costs involved in the visa application process is the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Paying the IHS grants you access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). This is a mandatory fee for most visa applicants and ensures that you can receive healthcare services during your stay in the UK without any extra charges at the point of use. The IHS fee is calculated based on the length of your visa and is paid upfront as part of the application process.


b. English Language Requirement

Depending on your specific circumstances and the status of the main visa holder, you may need to meet an English language requirement. This requirement is used to verify that you can communicate effectively in English.

The requirement typically involves passing an approved English language test or having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by Ecctis as equivalent to a UK degree, unless an exemption applies.


c. Criminal Record Check

If you are applying from outside the UK, you might need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country you have lived in for more than 12 months in the past 10 years. This requirement is particularly stringent for adult applicants and aims to ensure the safety and security of residents in the UK. The criminal record check is used by the UK Home Office to assess your suitability for a dependant visa by verifying that you do not have a serious criminal history.


Section B: Required Documents


While the specific documents will vary by application, below is a general list of documentation you should expect to compile and submit with your application:


a. Passport: A valid passport or other travel document and copies of any previous passports, if applicable.


b. Current Visa: A copy of your current student visa.


c. Proof of Relationship: Depending on the nature of your relationship to the main visa holder, this could include your marriage or civil partnership certificate, evidence of living together for at least two years, such as joint bank statements, utility bills, and rental agreements, or birth certificate or adoption certificate showing the relationship to the main visa holder.


d. Financial Evidence: Bank statements, savings account statements, or other financial documents showing sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents without recourse to public funds, as well as proof of income, such as payslips or an employment contract for the main visa holder.


e. Accommodation Details: Evidence of accommodation in the UK, such as a rental agreement or mortgage statement, demonstrating that you have a place to live with the main visa holder.


f. Intent to Live Together: Documents showing shared responsibilities and living arrangements, such as joint tenancy agreements, joint bank accounts, and utility bills addressed to both parties.


g. English Language Requirement (if applicable): Evidence of meeting the English language requirement, such as an English language test certificate from an approved provider or a degree taught in English.


h. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): Proof of payment for the Immigration Health Surcharge.


i. Criminal Record Certificate: A criminal record certificate from any country you have lived in for more than 12 months in the past 10 years (if required).


j. Tuberculosis Test Results (if applicable): A tuberculosis test certificate if you are from a country where this is required.


Section C: Application Process


The Dependant visa application process is designed to allow you to prove that you meet the relevant criteria and are eligible to stay in the UK as a dependant.


1. Dependant Visa Application Process


You first need to ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria for switching from a student visa to a dependent visa. Verify that you have the required relationship to the main visa holder and that you can provide the necessary documentation, such as marriage certificates for spouses or civil partners and cohabitation evidence for unmarried partners.

Collect all required documents, including proof of relationship, financial evidence, accommodation details, and other relevant paperwork. Ensure all documents are up-to-date and translated into English if necessary. This thorough preparation is essential for demonstrating your eligibility and supporting your application.

Visit the UK government’s IHS payment website to calculate the amount you need to pay based on the length of your visa. Complete the payment and keep the IHS payment reference number and confirmation receipt, as you will need these for your application.

To begin, visit the official UK government’s visa and immigration website. This is the primary portal for all visa applications and provides comprehensive guidance on the process.

If you are a new user, you will need to create an account by providing basic information such as your email address and password. If you already have an account, simply log in using your existing credentials. Having an account allows you to save your progress and return to the application if needed.

Once logged in, navigate to the section for visa applications and select the form specifically for switching to a dependent visa. The website is designed to guide you through the options, ensuring you choose the correct form based on your current visa status and relationship to the main visa holder.

The form will ask for various details, including personal information, your current visa status, and specifics about your relationship with the main visa holder. Be prepared to provide detailed answers and avoid any discrepancies that could delay your application.

Once the form is completed, you will need to schedule an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre to provide your fingerprints and photograph (biometrics). Attend the appointment with your passport and other required documents. This step is mandatory for verifying your identity.

Pay the visa application fee online through the UK government’s website. Ensure you keep the payment confirmation receipt as proof of payment.

Upload scanned copies of your supporting documents through your online account.

If requested, attend an interview at a UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) or the Home Office. Bring any additional documents requested in the interview invitation. This step is part of the verification process and may be necessary to clarify any details of your application.

Wait for a decision from the Home Office. Processing times can vary, so check the average processing times on the UK government’s website. Be prepared to respond to any requests for additional information or documents during this period.

If your application is approved, you will receive your new dependent visa, allowing you to stay in the UK as a dependent of the main visa holder. If your application is denied, you will receive a refusal notice explaining the reasons and your options for appeal or reapplication.


2. Common Application Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them


As UK visa application specialists, we see a number of common application errors:


a. Incomplete or Incorrect Forms: Double-check all information before submitting, and use the guidance notes provided with the application form.


b. Missing Documents: Create a checklist of required documents and ensure you have everything before submitting. Use a secure and reliable method to send your documents.


c. Insufficient Financial Evidence: Ensure your financial documents meet the requirements and cover the specified period. Provide additional supporting documents if there are any discrepancies.


d. Incorrect IHS Payment: Double-check the IHS payment amount before making the payment. Keep the payment confirmation receipt and reference number.


e. Delays in Biometrics Submission: Schedule your biometrics appointment as soon as possible after submitting your application. Attend the appointment on time and bring all required documents.


f. Failure to Respond to Additional Information Requests: Regularly check your email and online account for any communication from the Home Office. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information or documents.


Section D: Timeline and Processing


When switching visa categories, timings will be critical as you have to apply before your current visa expires.


1. Typical Processing Times for Visa Switching


The following breakdown sets out the various stages of the application and expected timescales for each:


a. Preparation and Document Gathering

The first stage, preparation and document gathering, typically takes about 1-2 weeks. During this period, you will need to collect all necessary documents, fill out the application form, and make any required payments, such as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Ensuring that all your documents are accurate and up-to-date is crucial to prevent delays later in the process.


b. Application Submission

Once your documents are ready, you can proceed with the application submission. This can be done immediately upon completing your preparation. You have the option to either complete the application online or mail a paper application along with your supporting documents. Submitting the application promptly and accurately is essential for a smooth process.


c. Biometrics Appointment

After submitting your application, the next step is to attend a biometrics appointment, which typically needs to be scheduled 1-2 weeks from booking. You will need to schedule and attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre to provide your fingerprints and a photograph. It is important to book and attend this appointment as soon as possible after submitting your application, as delays here can extend the overall processing time.


d. Processing by the Home Office

The processing time by the Home Office varies depending on the service level you select. Standard processing can take up to 8 weeks. If you are eligible and choose priority processing, the timeframe is reduced to 5 working days. For those eligible for super priority processing, the decision can be made by the next working day. During this stage, the Home Office will review your application, check all documents, and make a decision. The efficiency and accuracy of your submitted information play a significant role in expediting this process.


e. Decision and Notification

The final stage involves the decision and notification process, which is included in the overall processing time. Once the Home Office has reviewed your application, you will receive an email or letter with the decision. If your application is approved, you will receive a biometric residence permit (BRP) by post, which serves as your new visa documentation.


2. Factors That Can Influence Processing Time


When applying to switch from a student visa to a dependent visa, several factors can influence the processing time.


a. Completeness and Accuracy of the Application
Applications that are complete and accurate are processed more quickly by the Home Office. Double-check all information and documents before submission to avoid delays. Ensure all required fields are filled out correctly and that you have included all necessary supporting documents.


b. Biometrics Submission
Delays in scheduling or attending the biometrics appointment can extend the overall processing time. Book and attend your biometrics appointment as soon as possible after submitting your application. Promptly completing this step is crucial as the application process cannot proceed without it.


c. Application Volume
During peak times, such as the beginning of academic terms, the Home Office may experience higher volumes of applications, leading to longer processing times. Submit your application well in advance of any deadlines or peak periods. Planning ahead can help you avoid delays caused by high application volumes.


d. Eligibility for Priority or Super Priority Processing
Opting for priority or super priority processing can significantly reduce the processing time. Check if you are eligible for these faster processing options and consider using them if you need a quicker decision. These services typically come at an additional cost but can be worthwhile for urgent cases.


e. Additional Information or Document Requests
If the Home Office requires additional information or documents, this can delay the processing time. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information or documentation. Providing the requested information quickly can help prevent further delays.


f. Complexity of the Case
More complex cases, such as those involving dependents with unique circumstances or incomplete initial applications, may take longer to process. Provide thorough and clear explanations for any complexities in your application. Detailed and well-organised submissions can help the caseworker understand your situation better and expedite the decision-making process.


g. Holidays and Weekends
Processing times may be affected by public holidays and weekends when the Home Office is not operating. Take into account holidays and weekends when estimating your processing timeline. Submit your application with enough time to accommodate these non-working days.


h. Changes in Immigration Policies
Changes in immigration laws or policies can affect processing times. Stay informed about current immigration policies and any changes that might impact your application. Regularly check the UK Home Office website or consult with an immigration advisor to stay updated on policy changes.


Section E: Fees and Costs


Applicants must ensure they pay all necessary fees to avoid delays in application processing or potential application rejection.

The Home Office fee to switch to a Dependant visa is £1,048 per person for standard processing. This covers the basic application review and processing by the Home Office.

For those seeking a quicker decision, there are additional services available. The Priority Service, which ensures a decision within 5 working days, costs an extra £500 per person. For the fastest processing, the Super Priority Service, which provides a decision by the end of the next working day, requires an additional £1000 per person. These expedited services can be particularly beneficial for applicants needing urgent confirmation of their visa status.

In addition to the main application fee, applicants must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This mandatory fee grants access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The IHS costs £1035 per year per adult and £776 per year for children under 18 years old. To calculate the total IHS cost, you must multiply the annual rate by the number of years the visa is valid, which is typically 2.5 years for dependents.

There is also a biometric enrolment fee of £19.20 per person. This fee covers the cost of providing biometric information, including fingerprints and a photograph, which is a mandatory part of the application process.


2. Additional Costs to Consider

Additional costs beyond the primary application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge may also apply when switching to a dependant visa. These costs can vary depending on individual circumstances and specific requirements.

If any of your supporting documents are not in English, you will need to have them translated by a certified translator. The cost for this service typically ranges from £20 to £50 per page, depending on the complexity and length of the document.

Hiring an immigration lawyer or consultant to assist with your application can also be a significant expense. The cost for legal advice and assistance varies widely, usually ranging from £500 to £2,000. This fee depends on the complexity of your case and the specific services provided by the legal professional.

Travel costs for attending biometric enrolment appointments or interviews can add up, especially if you live far from the nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre. The amount varies based on distance and mode of transportation.

If you choose to send your application and supporting documents by courier, document courier fees will apply. These fees typically range from £10 to £50, depending on the courier service and delivery speed you select.

Applicants from certain countries may also need to undergo a Tuberculosis (TB) test if they are applying from a location where TB testing is mandatory. The cost of the TB test varies by country but generally ranges from £50 to £150.

If you have lived in any country for more than 12 months in the past 10 years, you may be required to obtain a criminal record certificate from those countries. The cost for obtaining this certificate typically ranges from £25 to £75, depending on the country.

Finally, there may be additional documentation costs for obtaining any other required documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or proof of accommodation. The fees for these documents vary depending on the document type and the issuing authority.


Section F: Common Switching Challenges


Switching visas in the UK can present various challenges, requiring solutions to avoid issues with the application.


1. Incomplete or Incorrect Application Forms

One of the most frequent challenges is submitting incomplete or incorrect application forms. Mistakes or omissions can lead to significant delays or outright rejections. To avoid this, it is essential to double-check all sections of the application form before submission. Utilising the guidance notes provided with the form can help ensure you understand each question. Additionally, seeking assistance from an immigration advisor or lawyer to review your application can provide an extra layer of assurance.


2. Missing or Insufficient Documentation

Failing to provide all necessary documents or submitting insufficient evidence can result in application refusal. To mitigate this risk, create a checklist of required documents based on the Home Office guidelines. Gather all documents well in advance of your application deadline. If a document is missing, provide a written explanation along with any alternative evidence that may support your case. This proactive approach can help ensure your application is as robust as possible.


3. Financial Requirements

Meeting financial requirements is a critical aspect of the application process. Not adhering to these requirements can lead to rejection. Ensure you understand the specific financial thresholds you need to meet. Collect and prepare financial documents such as bank statements and payslips covering the required period. If you are relying on a sponsor, ensure their financial evidence is also robust and compliant with the requirements. This thorough preparation can prevent financial issues from derailing your application.


4. Delays in Biometrics Appointment

Delays in scheduling or attending the biometrics appointment can extend the overall processing time. To avoid this, book your biometrics appointment as soon as you submit your application. Keep track of your appointment date and ensure you attend on time with all necessary documents. Prompt attendance at your biometrics appointment can keep your application on track.


5. Lack of Understanding of Eligibility Criteria

Misunderstanding eligibility criteria can lead to applying without meeting the necessary conditions. Thoroughly read and understand the eligibility requirements on the UK government website. If you are unsure about any aspect of eligibility, seek advice from a qualified immigration advisor. Their expertise can help clarify any uncertainties and ensure you meet all necessary criteria.


6. Communication Issues

Failing to respond promptly to Home Office requests for additional information can delay processing. Regularly check your email and any online account associated with your application for updates. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information or documentation. Clear and timely communication with the Home Office is crucial for avoiding unnecessary delays.


7. Legal and Policy Changes

Changes in immigration laws or policies can affect the application process and requirements. Stay informed about any changes to UK immigration laws and policies. Consulting with an immigration advisor who is up-to-date with current laws can provide accurate guidance and help you navigate any new regulations.


8. Proving Genuine Relationships

Demonstrating the authenticity of relationships, especially for unmarried partners, can be challenging. Collect comprehensive evidence of your relationship, such as photos, joint bank statements, and correspondence. Provide a detailed personal statement explaining the history and nature of your relationship. Including statements from friends and family who can attest to the authenticity of your relationship can further support your application.


9. Health Surcharge Payment Issues

Errors in paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) can lead to application problems. Double-check the IHS amount and payment details before submitting. Keep the payment confirmation receipt and reference number for your records to avoid any issues with your application.


10. Language Barrier

Language barriers can make understanding and completing the application difficult. Use translation services if needed to fully understand the application requirements. Seek help from an immigration advisor or community organisations that offer assistance to non-native speakers. Overcoming language barriers can ensure your application is accurate and complete.


Section G: Case Studies


The following case studies illustrate some of the complexities and challenges that can arise when making a Dependant visa application:


Case Study 1: John and Maria

John was in the UK on a student visa, and Maria, his wife, was living in their home country. They decided to switch John’s visa status to a dependent visa, so Maria could join him in the UK.

John and Maria faced several significant challenges. Gathering all the required documents was particularly difficult, especially those needed to prove the authenticity of their relationship. The financial requirements also posed a substantial hurdle. As a student, John’s income was limited, adding stress to the process of meeting the financial criteria necessary for the visa application.

To address these challenges, John and Maria adopted a meticulous approach to their documentation. They assembled a comprehensive set of documents, including their marriage certificate, joint bank statements, photographs, and letters from family and friends attesting to their relationship. This detailed documentation provided robust evidence of their genuine and subsisting relationship.

Financial planning played a crucial role in their strategy. John and Maria saved meticulously and supplemented their application with additional evidence of financial support. This included savings and support from family members, which helped to demonstrate that they met the financial requirements for the visa.

Their thorough preparation paid off. John successfully switched to a dependent visa, and Maria was able to join him in the UK. The success of their application underscored the importance of preparing a detailed and thorough application. Being clear and honest about their financial situation and gathering comprehensive evidence helped them overcome the hurdles they faced.

Reflecting on their experience, John shared, “The process was daunting at first, but taking the time to gather every piece of evidence and planning our finances carefully made all the difference. Seeing Maria arrive in the UK was the best moment ever!”


Case Study 2: Ahmed

Ahmed was a student in the UK, while his wife, Fatima, remained in their home country. To reunite with his wife, Ahmed needed to switch his student visa to a dependent visa, enabling Fatima to join him in the UK. This case study outlines the challenges he faced and the strategies he employed to overcome them.

One of the primary challenges Ahmed encountered was scheduling a biometrics appointment. The delay in securing this appointment significantly slowed down the application process. Additionally, Ahmed struggled with communication issues, as he found some of the application requirements difficult to understand due to language barriers.
To tackle these challenges, Ahmed made a strategic decision to book the biometrics appointment as soon as he submitted his application. This proactive approach helped mitigate further delays in the processing of his visa. Recognising the importance of clear communication and understanding, Ahmed sought assistance from an immigration advisor who spoke his native language. This advisor was able to explain the application process in detail, ensuring Ahmed fully understood each requirement.

As a result of these strategies, Ahmed successfully switched his visa status, allowing Fatima to join him in the UK. This outcome underscored the effectiveness of seeking professional help and the importance of not delaying critical steps like booking biometrics appointments.

Reflecting on his experience, Ahmed said, “Getting professional help was the best decision I made. They explained everything in my language, which made the whole process much easier and less stressful.”


Case Study 3: Emma and Sophie’s Story

Emma, holding a student visa, and her partner Sophie, who was in their home country, faced significant challenges in proving their relationship as unmarried partners. Without a marriage certificate, demonstrating a genuine and subsisting relationship was particularly difficult for them. Additionally, they were uncertain about the legal requirements for unmarried partners.

To address these challenges, Emma and Sophie compiled a detailed range of evidence to substantiate their relationship. This evidence included shared rental agreements, photos, travel itineraries, and personal statements detailing their relationship. This comprehensive documentation was crucial in demonstrating the authenticity of their partnership.

Recognising the complexities of their situation, they sought legal consultation from an immigration lawyer who specialised in LGBTQ+ cases. The lawyer provided tailored advice and support, guiding them through the legal intricacies and helping them prepare a robust application.

As a result of these efforts, Emma successfully switched to a dependent visa, enabling Sophie to move to the UK. This success underscored the importance of providing comprehensive evidence and seeking specialist legal advice when navigating the visa application process for unmarried partners.

Reflecting on their experience, Sophie shared, “We were so worried about proving our relationship, but our lawyer helped us compile a strong case. It was worth every penny for the peace of mind and eventual success.”


Section H: Debunking Common Myths About Switching from a Student Visa to a Dependent Visa


Switching from a student visa to a dependent visa can be surrounded by various misconceptions. Here, we debunk some of the most common myths to provide clarity and accurate information.


Myth 1: Switching Visas Is Not Possible from Within the UK

Many believe that switching from a student visa to a dependent visa can only be done from outside the UK. This is not true. You can switch your visa status from within the UK, provided you meet all the necessary criteria and follow the correct procedures.


Myth 2: You Must Leave the UK Immediately if Your Visa Expires During the Process

If you have submitted your application to switch visas before your current visa expires, you are allowed to stay in the UK until a decision is made on your new visa. This period is known as “Section 3C leave.”


Myth 3: You Cannot Work While Your Visa Switch Is Being Processed

If you have valid leave to remain in the UK and you have applied to switch visas before your current visa expires, you are generally allowed to continue working under the conditions of your existing visa until a decision is made on your new visa application.


Myth 4: Only Married Couples Can Apply for Dependent Visas

Unmarried partners can also apply for a dependent visa, provided they can demonstrate that they have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years.


Myth 5: The Dependent Visa Application Process Is Quick and Simple

The process can be complex and time-consuming, requiring meticulous preparation and submission of various documents. It’s essential to understand the requirements and prepare accordingly to avoid delays or rejections.


Myth 6: Financial Requirements Are Impossible to Meet

While meeting financial requirements can be challenging, it is not impossible. Understanding the specific financial thresholds and planning ahead can help you meet these criteria. You can use savings, income from employment, or financial support from family members to fulfil these requirements.


Myth 7: If Your Application Is Refused, You Have No Options

If your application to switch visas is refused, you have options such as appealing the decision, requesting an administrative review, or reapplying with additional or corrected information. Seeking legal advice in such cases can be very beneficial.


Myth 8: You Can Only Apply Online

While online applications are common and preferred, you may also be able to apply using a paper form, especially in specific or exceptional circumstances. It’s important to check the latest guidelines from the UK Home Office.


Myth 9: The Dependent Visa Is Only Valid for a Short Period

The duration of the dependent visa typically matches the main visa holder’s visa. If the main visa holder has a long-term visa, the dependent visa will usually be granted for the same period.


Myth 10: You Do Not Need to Prove Your Relationship Again if Switching

Every application is treated separately, and you will need to provide evidence of your relationship each time you apply or switch visas. Ensuring you have updated and thorough documentation is crucial.


Section I: Summary


Switching from a student visa to a dependent visa can open up new opportunities for you and your family. But it can also be a challenging process, particularly in complex cases, where issues such as previous visa refusals, criminal records, or complicated family situations arise.

DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. We have extensive experience in visa switching and Dependant visa applications, taking the pressure off applicants and giving the best chance of success.


Section J: FAQs


Can I switch from a student visa to a dependent visa while in the UK?
Yes, you can switch from a student visa to a dependent visa while you are in the UK, provided you meet the eligibility criteria and follow the correct application process.


What are the main eligibility criteria for switching to a dependent visa?
Eligibility criteria include proving your relationship to the main visa holder (spouse, partner, or child), meeting financial requirements, and providing necessary documentation such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, and proof of cohabitation.


What documents do I need to provide when applying for a dependant visa?
You will need to provide documents such as your current passport, proof of relationship (marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.), financial documents (bank statements, payslips), and any other relevant documentation as specified by the UK Home Office.


How do I apply for a dependant visa?
You can apply online through the UK Home Office website or submit a paper application. The process involves filling out the application form, submitting the required documents, paying the application fee, and attending a biometrics appointment.


How long does it take to process a dependent visa application?
Processing times can vary, but it typically takes several weeks to a few months. Factors such as the completeness of your application, the time of year, and the complexity of your case can influence processing times.


What are the costs involved in switching from a student visa to a dependent visa?
Costs include the application fee, Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), and any additional costs for legal advice or document translation. It’s important to check the latest fee information on the UK Home Office website.


Can I work while my dependent visa application is being processed?
If you have valid leave to remain in the UK and you apply to switch visas before your current visa expires, you can generally continue to work under the conditions of your existing visa until a decision is made.


What happens if my application is refused?
If your application is refused, you can appeal the decision, request an administrative review, or reapply with additional or corrected information. Seeking legal advice in such cases can be very helpful.


Do I need to prove my relationship again if I switch visas?
Yes, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship each time you apply or switch visas. Ensure your documentation is up-to-date and comprehensive.


Is it necessary to hire an immigration lawyer for this process?
While it’s not mandatory to hire an immigration lawyer, seeking professional advice can be beneficial, especially if your case is complex or if you have any doubts about the application process.


What should I do if I face delays in my biometrics appointment?
Book your biometrics appointment as soon as you submit your application to avoid delays. If there are delays, keep all your correspondence with the UK Home Office and inform them promptly if you cannot attend your scheduled appointment.


Can unmarried partners apply for a dependant visa?
Yes, unmarried partners can apply for a dependent visa if they can prove they have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years.


What financial evidence is required for the dependent visa application?
Financial evidence may include bank statements, payslips, savings account statements, and letters of financial support from family members. Ensure the documents cover the required period and meet the specified financial thresholds.


How can I stay updated on any changes in immigration laws and policies?
Regularly check the UK Home Office website for updates and consider subscribing to immigration newsletters or seeking advice from immigration professionals to stay informed about any changes that may affect your application.


Section K: Glossary


Biometrics Appointment: An appointment where an applicant provides their fingerprints and photographs as part of the visa application process. This is a mandatory step for most visa applications in the UK.

Dependant Visa: A visa that allows the dependants (spouse, partner, children) of a primary visa holder to join or remain with them in the UK. The dependants are typically given leave to remain under the same conditions as the primary visa holder.

Eligibility Criteria: The specific requirements that an applicant must meet to qualify for a particular visa. This may include factors such as relationship status, financial stability, and other personal circumstances.

Financial Requirements: The monetary thresholds an applicant must meet to demonstrate they can support themselves (and any dependents) without recourse to public funds. This typically includes showing proof of income, savings, or financial support.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): A fee paid by visa applicants to access the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The surcharge is paid upfront as part of the visa application process.

Leave to Remain: Permission granted by the UK Home Office that allows an individual to stay in the UK for a specified period under certain conditions. It can be temporary or indefinite (Indefinite Leave to Remain).

Primary Visa Holder: The individual who holds the main visa allowing them to live, work, or study in the UK. Dependants apply to join or remain with the primary visa holder.

Proof of Relationship: Documents and evidence that demonstrate the genuine and subsisting nature of a relationship between the visa applicant and the primary visa holder. This may include marriage certificates, birth certificates, photos, joint financial documents, and statements from family and friends.

Section 3C Leave: A provision that allows individuals to stay in the UK legally while their visa extension or change of visa application is being processed, provided they submitted the application before their current visa expired.

UK Home Office: The government department responsible for immigration, security, and law and order in the UK. It handles visa applications, asylum requests, and immigration enforcement.

Unmarried Partner: A person in a long-term relationship with a primary visa holder, living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years, who can apply for a dependent visa.

Visa Extension: An application process to extend the duration of an existing visa. This is often required when an individual’s initial visa period is about to expire, but they wish to remain in the UK longer.

Visa Switch: The process of changing from one type of visa to another while in the UK. For instance, switching from a student visa to a dependent visa involves applying for a new visa category based on changed circumstances.

Application Fee: The fee required to submit a visa application. This fee varies depending on the type of visa and the applicant’s circumstances.

Administrative Review: A process where an applicant can request a review of a visa decision they believe was made incorrectly based on factual errors in the original application.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): The immigration status granted to an individual allowing them to live in the UK indefinitely without any time restrictions. ILR holders can work, study, and access public services.

Joint Financial Documents: Documents that show joint financial responsibilities and arrangements between partners, such as joint bank accounts, joint tenancy agreements, or utility bills in both names.


Section L: Additional Resources


UK Government – Visas and Immigration
Comprehensive resource for all UK visa types and requirements.


UK Government – Apply to Extend Your Stay as a Dependent
Specific information on extending your stay in the UK as a dependent.


UK Government – Immigration Health Surcharge
Details about the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and how to pay it.


UK Government – Prove Your English Language Abilities
Information on meeting the English language requirement for UK visas.


UK Government – Visa Decision Waiting Times
Check current processing times for visa applications.


NHS – Healthcare for Overseas Visitors
Information about accessing NHS services as an overseas visitor in the UK.




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 500and 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

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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