Find out about studying at Sussex with children or a partner and how to get visas for visitors.

Visa options

If you’re applying to or studying at Sussex and want to have your family (spouse, partner or children) with you, there are two options:

  • a dependant visa
  • a standard visitor visa.

Applying for a dependant visa

If you’re applying for or have received a Student visa, your family may be able to apply for a dependant visa to join you in the UK for the duration of your course.

For them to qualify you must be:

  • studying a postgraduate course at RQF 7 or above which lasts nine months or more, with the course starting before 1 January 2024 or
  • studying an MPhil (RQF 7 Research) or PhD (RQF 8 Research) course or
  • receiving a government funded scholarship or sponsorship from a national government department to study a full-time course lasting 6 months or longer (the scholarship or sponsorship is not required to cover the full fees and living costs of the student in order to permit them to sponsor dependants).

If you have family members applying for dependant visas and your course started on or after 1 January 2024, it is important that you check the course level on your CAS to make sure it states “RQF 7 – Research” or “RQF 8 Research”. This is how UKVI will determine that the course you are studying is at the required level to bring dependants.

For Masters (RQF 7) students who started a course before 1 January 2024 and are applying for a new Student visa for that course after taking a break from or extending their studies, the course will still meet the eligibility criteria to bring dependants as the original course start date was before 1 January 2024. Any new CAS issued for this course will contain the original course start date.

See the UKCISA website for full details of the requirements for a dependant visa.

To bring children with you as visa dependants, both parents must be living in the UK. There are only a few exceptions to this, such as if one parent has died or if you have sole responsibility for your children.

If you do not meet any of the above requirements and are already in the UK, contact us.

Graduates with dependants

Find out about options for dependants if you are applying for the Graduate Route visa.

Standard Visitor visas

If your family cannot apply for dependant visas, they may be able to apply for a Standard Visitor visa instead.

This allows a family member to travel to the UK for up to six months. However, they will not be able to:

  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • access free healthcare in the UK (apart from accident and emergency)
  • study for longer than 30 days
  • work.

A standard visitor visa is only suitable for a short-term visit.

If you’re not sure, check visas for visitors on the UK government website.


Your visitor must provide some documents to get a Standard Visitor visa.

They will also need proof of your enrolment at Sussex.

You can get this from:

  • your school office, if you’re an undergraduate student
  • the Student Systems and Records Office, if you’re a Masters student
  • the Research Student Administration Office, if you’re doing a PhD.

See the UK government guide to supporting documents.


If your visitor is coming to the UK to attend your graduation ceremony, they can get a guest invitation letter from Sussex including the date of the ceremony.

Having finances to support your family

You will need to prove you have enough money to support you and your family when applying for visas.

Getting benefits

Welfare benefits are provided by the UK government to help people with low incomes.

However, most international students and their dependants are usually not eligible to claim welfare benefits. This includes those from the European Union and European Economic Area.

The main reason for this is because benefits are regarded as ‘public funds’.

If you think you are entitled to support, see advice on benefits for international students.

Paying rent for accommodation

You will need to provide evidence to any landlord or letting agent that you can afford the rent for the entire period of your tenancy.

Some landlords require the full 12-months’ rent in advance, or a portion of the rent for the entire contracted term, to secure a property. For example, if you enter a 12-month tenancy and are required to pay six months’ rent in advance, this rent may cover months seven-12 and you will be expected to pay rent monthly during months one to six of the tenancy.

Sending your children to school

Children aged between five and 16 must go to school by law.

Your children are entitled to free education if they’re on a dependant visa. They don’t get free education if they’re in the UK on a Standard Visitor visa.

Schools are generally divided into:

  • primary schools, for children aged between four and 11
  • secondary schools, for children between the ages of 11 and 16.

Find out about primary schools and secondary schools in Brighton and Hove. Some types of school have a different system.

The law is different for young people aged over 16. See more about the school leaving age and UK law on school attendance.

More about UK schooling

See government advice about schools and education.

Babies born in the UK

Babies born in the UK are not automatically British citizens. They can remain here without a visa but if you leave the country with them and return they will need a dependant visa.

Contact us if you need more advice.

The NHS has general information on having a baby in the UK.

Babies born in the UK cannot get secondary NHS services for free once they are over three months old. If you’re on a student visa, you will need to make a dependant visa application for your baby and receive a successful outcome before they are three months old.

Alternatively, make sure you have private healthcare insurance for your baby.

Housing for you and your family 

We are unable to provide University-managed housing (on or off campus) to students who have dependants. If you are coming to study at Sussex and have dependants, you will need to find accommodation for your family outside of the University by renting privately. 

We recommend that you do not bring dependants to the UK with you until permanent accommodation is secured. This advice is in line with the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). You can stay in temporary accommodation alone while you search for a permanent residence.

Find out more about private sector advice for families

See more from Applying for a student visa