Applying from outside the UK


Main applicants are eligible to bring family members to the UK as their student dependants if they:

  • hold (or are applying for) a student visa in order to study a course at postgraduate research level or above for 9 months or more, that is at PhD level or,
  • are government-sponsored and are coming to the UK to follow a course of more than six months at postgraduate taught or postgraduate research level, MSc or PhD. 

and they are related in one of the following ways:

  • they are your husband or wife (known as your spouse)
  • they are your partner (this can be same sex), meaning that you must have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years
  • they are your child under the age of 18 – in which case both parents must be coming to the UK unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Please read both the PBS Dependant policy guidance as published on the Home Office website, and the UKCISA guidance for dependants, before you make your visa application.

Application process

In most cases, the dependant application form should be completed online.

If you are applying from North Korea then you will need to complete the paper VAF 10 form and follow the process outlined on the Home Office website. The paper form can be found here: VAF 10.

Once you have completed the application form online you will be asked to book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre, and in most cases make the fee payment online. The process varies depending on which country you are making your application from.

Application fees

The current fee for a student (dependant) visa is £490 (or local currency equivalent).

In addition to the visa application fee you will need to pay an immigration health surcharge at point of application. The surcharge was introduced by the UK Government in April 2015 for students and their dependants to contribute towards the cost of providing a National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.

The charge has been set at £776 for students and for their dependants from 16 January 2024 and will be applied to all applications for a visa for longer than six months if applying from outside or inside the UK. The £776 is a pro rata annual fee based on the total number of years that student or student dependant visa is granted. Part years we think will be charged at £388 if less than six months.

Further information can be found on the UKVI website: Immigration health surcharge: information for migrants.

Documentation requirements

Passports and previous visas

In addition to your current passport, you should provide all previous passports and visas that you have used to travel to, and remain in, the UK.

Evidence of relationship

Spouse or partner

If this is your first application as the student dependant of the main applicant, you will need to provide evidence to show that your relationship is genuine and subsisting. You must include the marriage certificate if applicable, however there is no set guidance regarding additional evidence. You may wish to consider the following:

  • a covering letter to explain the relationship; how you met, if you've lived together, travelled together, when you got married etc.
  • evidence of trips taken together (hotel bookings, flight bookings)
  • evidence of maintained contact if you have been apart for a while
  • a small selection of photographs provided these are dated.

If you already hold a student dependant visa, you will need to provide evidence of your address to show that your relationship is subsisting and that you are still living together. This should include a document such as a bank statement or a utility bill.


If this is your first application as the child of the main applicant, you must provide your birth certificate.

If you are a dependent child over the age of 16, you will need to provide two pieces of evidence that confirm your address to show that you are still living with the main applicant. This should include two of the following;

  • bank statement
  • credit card bill
  • driving licence
  • NHS registration document (if already in the UK)
  • a letter from your current school, college or university confirming your address.

This must be on official headed paper and bearing the official stamp of that organisation. It must have been issued by an authorised official of that organisation. The documents submitted should be from two separate sources and ideally dated no more than a month prior to the date of application.

Tuberculosis test certificate

Residents of some countries that intend to come to the UK for longer than six months are required to obtain a certificate confirming that they are free from tuberculosis. If you are required to do this, you should do so before you apply for your visa. For full information please refer to the Home Office website. Test certificates must be valid on the date of your appointment.

Evidence of name change

If you have changed your name you are required to provide official evidence of this with your application. The evidence must state your previous name, your new name and the date of change. Typical examples of documents used include deed poll certificates, passports containing both names, and government issued house hold registers.

CAS letter

If you are applying at the same time as the main applicant then they will be submitting a CAS (confirmation of acceptance for studies) letter. We advise that you also include copies of their CAS, passport ID page and current visa with your application.


The application form will ask where you will be staying when you come to the UK. If you will be staying with the main applicant in rented accommodation, you should provide a letter from the landlord or letting agent authorising your stay. If arrangements will be made after your visa is granted, you should provisionally book temporary accommodation and provide evidence of the booking with your application.

You should always check the accommodations cancellation policy before booking.

Finance requirements

You are required to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK. The amount needed is known as maintenance and is a maximum of £6120.

Maintenance is calculated as £680 for each month that your visa will be issued for, up to a maximum of nine months (any part-month should be rounded up). This means that if your visa will be issued for a seven month period then the amount that you will need is 7 x £680 = £4760. If your visa will be issued for nine months or more, the amount that you will need is 9 x £680 = £6120.  Recent changes however do mean that Dependants may have to show maintenance for more months than the main application. Please contact the Student information desk for more information.

The start date is taken as the date you intend to travel to the UK, or one month before a Students course begins (whichever is later), the end date for the calculation is the date that the visa will end. 

Please be careful to add the correct additional period of time to the end of the visa, which may differ depending on the length of the main applicant's course. You can find more information about this on the UKCISA website: If you require help in calculating the amount required, please contact the Student information desk.

The total maintenance must be held as a minimum balance in the account for at least 28 days without dipping below the required amount. Required funds must remain in your bank account until the date of application.  The date of application is the date that the application fee is paid. 

If you are unsure about what level of maintenance you should show, please contact the Student information desk.

Finance documents

Evidence must be in the form of cash funds. Other accounts or financial instruments such as shares, bonds, pension funds etc, regardless of notice period are not acceptable. More than one bank statement can be used but they must be personal bank accounts and show the same date range.

Using personal certificates of deposit

These documents do not show the transaction details of the account and it is therefore impossible to determine if the funds have remained for the required period. However, they can still be used provided that there is a gap of 28 days or more between the deposit date and the date the certificate is issued. The wording in the terms and conditions must state that the funds are accessible at any time i.e. without having to give notice.

Using a personal UK bank account

We recommend that you use a UK bank account that is in your own name or that of the main applicant and that it contains the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your account number
  • The date of the statement (must be produced less than 31 days before your application is made)
  • The bank's name and logo
  • The amount of money available in your account
  • Stamp on every page unless the statement has been posted to you

Using a personal foreign bank account

A personal foreign bank account can be in your own name or that of the main applicant and it should contain the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your account number
  • The date of the statement (must be produced less than 31 days before your application is made)
  • The bank's name and logo
  • The amount of money available in your account
  • A stamp on every page unless the statement has been posted to you.

In addition to the information above, the balance of your account should be shown in British Pounds (GBP). Your currency must be converted into pounds using the exchange rate found on the OANDA website. This conversion should be handwritten on the bottom of your bank statement along with the date you converted it.

Not all banks are accepted by the Home Office and it is therefore important you check their website before submitting your application. This affects the following countries: Cameroon, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Ghana, Bangladesh, Iran and Sri Lanka.

Official financial sponsorship

If the main applicant is receiving an official financial sponsorship that also covers you, then you will need to provide a letter from the sponsor. This must be written on their official letter-headed stationery and be stamped with the official stamp of the organisation. The letter must be dated (we would recommend your letter be no more than three months old) and include:

  • the names of all persons covered by the sponsorship
  • the name and contact details of your official financial sponsor
  • the length of time your sponsorship covers
  • the amount of money they will pay towards your monthly living costs. Alternatively, your sponsor should state on the letter that they will cover all living costs
  • consent to you remaining in the UK for the duration of the course (even if sponsorship will end).

If your sponsor has indicated that you are due to return to your home country by a certain date, this may reduce the duration of your visa to below that which you would normally expect.

Partial sponsorships

If the scholarship only provides some of the finances required, or only covers some of the required maintenance period you will be required to provide additional evidence of having the required funds available, such as a personal bank statement. Please discuss with ISA if you are unsure about this. 

Previous financial sponsor

If you are no longer receiving funding in the UK, but have done so in the last 12 months, your financial sponsor must still include a statement giving their consent to you remaining in the UK. If they do not give this permission then your application will be refused.

Other acceptable finance documents

There are a number of other documents that the Home Office will accept as proof of funds. For a full list, or for further information on any of the methods mentioned above, please visit the Home Office website.

Translated documents

All documents that are not in English should be officially translated and contain the following:

  • Details of the translator/translation company's credentials
  • Confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document; and
  • The translator/translation company's contact details.
  • The date of translation
  • The original signature of the translator or an authorised official of the translation company
How your visa will be issued

1. 90 day entry clearance vignette in your passport to allow you to travel to the UK
2. Full visa collected from Heriot Watt University Edinburgh Campus (if applying at the same time as the main applicant) or a designated Post Office within the UK issued on a long term visa card (BRP)

Key points

  • When you apply for your visa you will be asked to enter a 'BRP Collection Location' code in order to determine where you will collect your BRP card from. If the main applicant will be studying in Scotland and you are applying together, you can enter the Heriot Watt University ACL code 2HE332 which will allow your BRP card to be collected directly from the University. If the main applicant is not studying in Scotland, or you are applying separately from the main applicant, you can enter the University postcode or your UK residential address postcode. In this scenario the BRP card will be sent to a designated Post Office Branch.
  • If your visa application is successful you will be given a short-term entry clearance vignette (sticker) in your passport. This will be begin either 90 days before the course start date on the main applicants CAS letter, or seven days before the intended travel date that you stated on your online visa application form, whichever is later. You must travel to the UK within the validity of this vignette.
  • Along with your entry clearance vignette, you will receive a ‘grant letter' explaining how and where to collect your BRP card after you arrive, and what leave (visa type and length) it will show.
  • Your BRP will be ready for collection 7 days from when your 90 days travel visa begins. At certain times there can be a small delay.
  • You must collect your BRP card from the University or designated Post Office detailed on your decision letter within 10 days of arriving in the UK.
  • There will be no fee to pay to collect the BRP from the University or designated Post Office branch.
  • You will be required to present your travel document [i.e. passport] and the grant letter when collecting your BRP card.
  • The main applicant (over 18) can collect BRP cards on behalf of their dependants provided that you all travelled to the UK together. To do so, you must present the passports and grant letters of everyone whose BRP you wish to collect.
  • If you are the main applicant and are under 18 you will need an authorised responsible adult to accompany you to collect your BRP. If this will apply to you please contact the Student information desk as soon as possible for further instruction.

If you notice any errors on your 90 day vignette or your BRP please contact the Student information desk as soon as possible

Student information desk

Our Visa, Advice and Compliance team are available to answer your enquires through the Student information desk. You can also view frequently asked questions (FAQs) for many topics related to international students studying at our Scottish campuses.