Working in the UK

PBS DEPENDANT GUIDANCE

A PBS dependant visa permits to enter and remain in the UK to family members of individuals who have or are applying for a UK visa under the Points-Based System (PBS).

The ‘main applicant’ or ‘visa holder’ must be a Tier 1, 2 or 5, Skilled Worker or ICT PBS migrant or a Start-Up, Innovator or Global Talent Worker. This includes Health and Care Visa applicants.

You must meet specific visa requirements to apply as a Skilled Worker, ICT dependant or any other kind of PBS visa dependant.

PBS Dependant Guidance

Table of Contents

What is a PBS dependent?

For UK visa purposes, a PBS dependant is classed as:

  • A direct relation to the principal applicant holding or applying to hold one of the qualifying visa routes (as above).
  • 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 under one of the qualifying visa routes.
  • A minor child of a person with UK ILR or British citizenship who last held leave in one of the qualifying routes 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; please see below.

Sponsored 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.

What is left to enter or remain as a PBS dependent?

With leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK as a PBS dependant, you will be permitted to: 

  • Work full-time or part-time.
  • Study full-time or part-time.
  • Leave and re-enter the UK while your visa is valid. 
  • Apply to extend your visa.
  • Apply for UK indefinite leave to remain once you have met the residency requirement, except for Tier 4 General Student PBS dependants.

If you are 18 years old or will turn 18 during the validity of your visa, you can enjoy various privileges and opportunities. These include the eligibility to claim public benefits, pursue certain professions like being a sportsperson, doctor, or dentist, work as a dependant of a Tier 4 General Student, or engage in studies requiring an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearancea

What are the PBS Dependant requirements?

Primarily, it would help if you showed you qualify as one of the following relations to a PBS principal applicant or visa holder (i.e. your ‘sponsor’):

  • Spouse, in a legally recognised marriage where you are both 18 or over. 
  • An unmarried partner who has been cohabiting with the PBS visa holder for at least two straight years. 
  • A child who is available and under 18 when making the initial visa application.

Maintenance funds as a PBS dependant

In addition, unless the principal applicant or visa holder is a Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or Global Talent migrant, either you or your partner must show that you have sufficient funds to support you for the entire duration of your stay in the UK, as you will not have access to public funds such as benefits.

The funds will vary depending on which visa your partner is applying for or holding.

Main Applicant Visa Category Level of Maintenance Funds

Family members of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants

If the Tier 1 migrant is outside the UK or has been present in the UK for less than 12 months, you must show that you, the Tier 1 migrant, or (for children) your other parent have at least £1890 to support you; this is in addition to any funds the Tier 1 migrant needs to prove they have enough money to support themselves. If the Tier 1 migrant has been in the UK for 12 months or more, you must have £630 to support yourself. A Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) cannot rely on the same funds used to meet the attributes required for maintenance requirements to satisfy the PBS dependant maintenance funds.

Family members of Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or Global Talent migrants
No maintenance requirement applies
Family members of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrants

If the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) is outside the UK or has been present in the UK for less than 12 months, you must have £1260 to support yourself. If the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) has been in the UK for 12 months or more, you must have £630 to support yourself. This requirement can be met by either having savings of £1260 or £630 where the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) has been in the UK for 12 months or more, which must have been held for at least a 90 consecutive day period prior to the date of application; or providing an endorsement letter from the Department for International Trade confirming that it has awarded funding that is at least sufficient to cover the required maintenance funds for the main applicant, you and any other PBS Dependants.

Family member of Tier 2 or Skilled Worker Migrant

You must have £630 to support yourself. This can be from savings that have been held for a minimum of 3 months prior to application, or a written undertaking that the main applicant’s A’rated sponsoring employer (where eligible) will provide the funds if necessary.

Family member of Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)

Family members of Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) migrants must have £630 to support themselves. This may be met through having savings at this level held for at least 3 months prior to application or a written undertaking from the main applicant’s A’rated sponsor that they will provide the funds if necessary.

Family member of an Innovator or Start-up Worker

You must have £630 to support yourself. This requirement can be met by having savings of £630 which must have been held for at least three months prior to the date of application, or being a Start-up or Innovator whose endorsement letter confirms the applicant has enough funds for themselves and their dependants do not need to demonstrate maintenance separately.

Applying for the PBS Dependent Visa

To apply for a PBS-dependant visa, you must submit an online application for either “leave to enter” outside the UK or “leave to remain” if you are already in the UK with legal status. This application should include supporting evidence to demonstrate your eligibility as a dependant and your suitability for the visa.

PBS Dependant Visa Documents List

Your visa application will require you to submit supporting documentation. The same list will depend on your circumstances and the basis of your eligibility, but in general, you should provide the following: 

  • Evidence of qualifying relationship with the PBS visa holder, for example, spouses could provide: 
    • Marriage or civil partnership certificates
    • Joint bank statements in both names 
    • Shared council tax bills in both names
    • Shared utility bills in both names
  • Personal bank or building society statements covering 90-days immediately before the application
  • Criminal Record Certificates in certain circumstances, such as if applying for entry clearance as a spouse or partner of a Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Tier 1 Investor, Tier 2 General role in health, education or social care sector
  • Proof of sufficient maintenance funds
  • The PBS worker’s Certificate of Sponsorship (if applicable)

How long is PBS Dependant Visa Processing?

In general, you can expect to wait as follows for visa processing. However, pandemic restrictions may affect visa processing, and applicants are advised to check lead times when applying.

  • PBS dependant applications made outside the UK can take around three months, although this will depend on the specific processing centre handling the application. 
  • Switching to the PBS-dependant visa from within the UK or applying to extend an existing PBS-dependant visa can take up to 8 weeks under the standard service, up to 10 days under the paid-for priority service, or the same day you apply with the premium service on a fee.
  • ILR applications from PBS dependants can take around six months.

How long can PBS Dependants stay in the UK?

Partners of the primary PBS visa holder will be granted leave in line with the expiry date of the PBS migrant’s leave unless the principal applicant has been granted indefinite leave to remain, in which case you would be given three years of holiday initially after which you can apply to extend your visa to reach the qualifying period of 5 years to apply for indefinite leave to remain yourself.

Children of UK visa holders can stay during the visa period of the parent whose visa expires first. If the parents have an ILR or British citizenship, you are granted three years of the visa period.

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 must include your biometric information, which may be obtained from a visa application centre.

Applying to extend or switch visas inside the UK will cost £704 per person online. Using a premium service centre would cost £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 the latest rates.

The child PBS-Dependant Visa Rules?

A PBS dependant child can include your child or your partner’s child. To qualify for entry clearance or leave to remain, the PBS dependant child must meet the following requirements:

  • Be under the age of 18 on the date of application. If aged 18 or over, they must have previously been granted leave as the family member of a PBS migrant or someone applying at the same time for vacation as a PBS migrant.
  • Both parents must be lawfully present in the UK, other than as visitors, or be granted entry clearance or leave to remain the same time as the applicant.
  • Alternatively, one parent must be lawfully present in the UK where the other is being granted entry clearance or leave to remain at the same time as the applicant unless:
    • You are the applicant’s sole surviving parent, or
    • You have, and have had, sole responsibility for the applicant’s upbringing, or
    • There are profound or compelling family or other considerations that would make it desirable not to refuse the application, and suitable arrangements have been made in the UK for the applicant’s care.

To support a PBS dependant child during their stay in the UK, it is necessary to demonstrate sufficient funds unless the principal applicant or visa holder is a Tier 1 or Global Talent migrant.

A PBS dependant will not be classified as a child family member if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • They are married or in a civil partnership.
  • They have established an independent family unit, such as living with a partner or having their children.
  • They are leading an independent life, which could involve full-time employment, financial independence, or living away from home (unless it is related to schooling). 

PBS dependant children will be granted leave for the same period as the parent whose leave expires first. If both parents have the same amount of time given, 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 visa expires.

Rules for a PBS Dependant child applying for ILR?

A dependant child will be eligible to apply for ILR simultaneously 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 separate from the original family applications.

Applicants 18 years or older at the time of application must also satisfy the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirements.

What if there are changes to the Sponsor’s Visa?

Suppose the primary visa holder changes employer or educational institution while in the UK; they will be issued a new sponsorship certificate and must apply for a new visa. As a dependant, you do not need to use 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 vacation in line with the PBS migrant no more than 28 days before your current leave expires, but you must use it before the current PBS dependant visa expires.

If the primary visa holder’s permission to stay in the UK is revoked, or they decide to immigrate to a different country, this will affect the leave granted to the PBS dependant, and they may also be required to leave. Take advice on your circumstances as you may need to switch categories by applying for new status to remain in the UK lawfully.

Applying for a PBS Dependant Visa Extension?

You should be able to extend your PBS dependant visa, providing that you and your sponsor are still meeting the conditions of the original visa.

You will need to re-submit your biometric data and provide your certificate of sponsorship. You must 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 must provide proof of employment, income and where you live. This could be through bank statements, wage slips, PAYE statements, utility bills etc.

PBS Dependant applying 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, i.e. 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
  • They were naturalised as a British citizen, before 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 at least five years before submitting your application.

ILR eligibility also requires passing the Knowledge of Life in the UK and English language tests.

If you are eligible for ILR, your application will be made using form Set (O).

Suppose you are applying as a PBS dependant of a person who has gone on to attain indefinite leave to remain or British Citizenship. In that case, you must 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 must apply as a dependent of a Tier 2 migrant.

Family members of Tier 2 and Tier 5 PBS migrants applying in the UK may apply online or by using the equivalent paper application form.

Do you have a question about the PBS dependent visa?

The rules relating to PBS dependants are complex and often subject to change. With much at stake, being unable to join your partner in the UK indefinitely, it is always best to seek legal advice before submitting any application. The slightest 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 PBS visa 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.

PBS Dependant FAQs

A PBS dependant refers to an individual who is related to someone holding a Points-based (PBS) visa and is eligible to apply for a visa based on their qualifying relationship

PBS dependants can work in the UK, with a few exceptions.

You may only work as a professional sportsperson, coach, doctor, or dentist in training if you have obtained a primary degree 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.

Dependant leaves to enter is the permission granted to allow you to enter the UK and stay for up to a specified period as the relative of someone with a UK points-based visa.

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