This page has been created to help clarify a unique opportunity for couples. Not many realize this but immediate family dependents of Tier 4 (General) student visa are granted limited settlement rights. That is the right to live and work in the UK, whilst their partner studies full time.

This creates an exciting opportunity for couples.


Theoretically, when it comes to couples, the one partner can apply as the main applicant of the Tier 4 (General) student visa. The main applicant is then committed to full time studies in the UK. There is provision for the main applicant to work a maximum of 20 hours per week (part time work) as long as it is incidental to their studies.

During this time, the married like partner (known as a “family dependent”) will be granted permission to be in the UK with their partner. That permission to join their partner grants working rights.

Theoretically, this means that the one partner can study full time whilst the other partner works (and covers living expenses).

Its quite a unique way to work the UK visa system in ones favour.

The complications in this approach:

    • The couple (main applicant and married like partner) need to be able to evidence a legally recognized relationship equivalent to marriage. We have created a Married Like Relationships page to help address this aspect.
    • The main applicant will be paying international student fees. That means they are going to require a minimum of R300k to gain entry for their first year of studies.
    • At the end of their visa, there is no easy way to remain in the UK. This means that extending their stay (once they get into a routine in first world country) carries a high risk of not being granted.

There is some provision for these cases but for now, just know that that it is not easy. If you would like to find out more, please be encouraged to contact us.

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