One of the advantages of the Tier 2 visa route is that it allows family members to join the main visa holder in the UK with a Tier 2 Dependent visa.
We look at the requirements for the Tier 2, Skilled Worker and Health & Care Worker visa dependents, including who is eligible, what it allows the holder to do and how to apply.
Tier 2 dependent guidance
The qualifying criteria for the dependant visa are as follows:
Main visa applicant
Eligibility for a dependent visa is limited to immediate family members of individuals who have, or are applying for, leave to remain in the UK under one of the following categories:
- Tier 2 (General), now Skilled Worker visa, including the Health & Care Worker visa
- Tier 2 Minister of religion
- Tier 2 Sportsperson
- Tier 2 Intracompany Transfer
Immediate family members
Immediate family members are limited to:
- The main visa holder’s spouse or civil partner
- Unmarried partners of at least 2 continual years
- Children aged under 18 at the time of application, including those born in the UK during the visa stay
- Children over 18, if currently in the UK as the main visa holder’s dependant
All relationships must be evidenced in the application.
The relationship between spouses and partners must be genuine, and proof will be required that the main applicant and dependant have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years at the time of applications. Marriage and civil partnerships must be legally recognised in the UK.
There must also be an intention to live together for the entire period of stay in the UK.
For children over the age of 16, evidence will be required that they are financially dependent on the main applicant, are not married or have any of their own children and that they live with the main visa applicant, unless they are living away from home as part of their education,
If the child does reside with the main applicant, proof will be required to support this, such as a bank statement or official letter from their university or college.
Skilled worker and Tier 2 dependents have no recourse to public funds in the UK, which means they cannot claim state benefits.
As such, the dependant visa application will need to provide evidence that the individual (or the main applicant) has access to sufficient financial means for the duration of the dependant’s leave in the UK.
The following maintenance thresholds must be met:
- £285 for a partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
This is in addition to the maintenance requirement for the main applicant, e.g. £1,270 for most skilled workers.
In most cases, original form bank statements should be provided as proof that the required level of funds have been available to the applicants for at least 28 consecutive days. Importantly, day 28 must be within 31 days of the dependant visa application being made.
Proof won’t be required if all applicants (both main and dependants) have all been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months, or the main visa applicant’s employer can cover their family’s costs during their first month in the UK, which has to be confirmed on the visa holder’s certificate of sponsorship.
If the dependants are applying after the main applicant, evidence of maintenance funds will only be required if they have been in the UK for under 12 months,
Both the main applicant and dependent must be at least 18 on the date of arrival into the UK.
General grounds for admission
You must not be a previous holder of a UK visitor visa, short-term study visa on or after April 2015 or been granted leave as a parent of a Tier 4 (child) student on or after April 2015.
You will in addition have to pass the general grounds from admission. You have to have a clear immigration history with no period of overstaying etc. You must not intend to remain in the UK when your partner or relative’s visa expires.
Tier 2 child dependants
Children born in the UK to a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa holder do not automatically British citizenship. A dependant visa will be needed for each child to travel in and out of the UK.
The rules for Tier 2 dependent children are complex, and depend largely on the relationship of their parents.
To qualify as a dependent child, one of the following must apply:
- The family as a whole is in the process of applying to the Home Office i.e. one parent under the Skilled Worker and the rest as dependents, OR
- Both parents are to be in the UK (one of them or both under the Tier 2 Visa), while the underage child is applying to join them from abroad as a dependent, OR
- One parent is in the UK, while the other is applying together with the child to join as a dependent from abroad.
Exempt from the above conditions are the following scenarios:
- Where only one parent is alive
- Where one parent holds the sole responsibility for the child
- Where there are serious or compelling considerations which must be taken into account
Dependant visa application process
A separate application will be needed, and fee payable, for each dependant applicant, including children.
Dependent visa applications can be made either at the same time or at a later time to the main visa application.
Regardless of when the applications are made, successful applications will be granted leave in line with the main visa applicant’s period of leave.
The application process will vary depending on where the dependent visa application is being made.
Applications from within the UK
Dependents already in the UK with valid leave to remain under a different visa may be able to apply to switch to the dependent visa without having to leave the UK. This must be before their current visa expires.
Switching is not permitted if the dependant is already in the UK under one of the following:
- on a visit visa
- on a short-term student visa
- on a Parent of a Child Student visa
- on a seasonal worker visa
- on a domestic worker in a private household visa
- on immigration bail
- because they were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds
The application is made online using the main applicant’s application reference number, the Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN).
To prove their identity, the dependants will need to either attend a UKVCAS centre to submit their biometric information, or submit their identity document using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.
Dependants switching into this category cannot leave the UK while their application is being processed, or it will be withdrawn.
Applications can take around 8 weeks to process, depending on current caseloads and pandemic restrictions on operations.
Applications from outside the UK
Applications are made online.
The application will need to include the main applicant’s application number, called the Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN).
To prove their identify, biometric information must be provided for each applicant, either at a visa application centre or by using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document.
If a visa centre appointment is required, they may retain the dependants’ identity documents while the application is being processed.
Applicants can take around 3 weeks to process, but this will depend on the caseload of the local application centre, and any operational disruption due for example to local pandemic restrictions.
What does the Tier 2 dependant visa allow?
Dependant visa holders are permitted to work in the UK, with limited restrictions. They cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach.
Dependent visa holders can:
- Remain in the UK for the same period of leave as the main tier 2 visa holder
- Work, with limited exceptions
- Study or take a postgraduate course, under certain conditions
- Become eligible to apply for UK ILR if in the UK for 5 continuous years, provided the main visa holder qualifies for a settlement permit, or has already been settled permanently.
- Apply to extend the visa in line with the main applicant’s leave, provided they continue to meet the requirements under the route and the main visa applicant remains in the UK
DavidsonMorris specialise in UK visa applications, including Tier 2 dependent visas. We can guide you through the application process, including advising on eligibility and support with compiling documentation.
Contact us for advice on your visa application.
Dependant visa FAQs
What is classed as a Dependant child UK?
To qualify as a dependent child for a UK visa, specific criteria must be met, including being financially dependent on the main visa applicant.
Do Tier 2 dependents need Ielts?
No, dependent visa applicants do not need to pass an English language test.
What is a Tier 2 dependent visa?
Tier 2 and Skilled Worker Dependent Visas are for the spouse, unmarried partner or children of the main visa holder to come to the UK for the same period as the main visa holder.
Last updated: 3 February 2021