Skip to main content

Students with families

Last updated: 05/08/2022 14:29

Find out what you'll need to do to bring your family with you for a visit or for the duration of your studies.

If they're helping you move to Cardiff

If your family members are accompanying you to Cardiff for a few days to help you settle into your new life, they will likely need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa in advance.

The GOV.UK website will help you to determine whether your family needs to obtain a visitor visa before they travel to the UK. It also contains guidance on the type of visa they might need.

If you'd like them to live with you for the duration of your studies

UK Visas and Immigration only allow your dependant family members to obtain visas to come and live with you in the UK. A dependent is your partner/husband/wife and any children under 18.

Before deciding whether to bring your dependents to Cardiff, you'll need to consider the Immigration Rules – which include your financial position – and how your family will adapt to life in the UK.

Dependents can stay with you in the UK if you are:

  • government-sponsored and your course is over six months long or
  • doing a postgraduate level course of nine months or longer.

You must make your preparations well in advance. You must ensure that your finances are arranged and that you have organised suitable accommodation for you and your family.

To apply for a dependent visa, your family member must each complete an online application form. Each dependant must pay the IHS charge and application fee at the point of application.

To find out more, see GOV.UK's guidance on family visas or UKCISA's advice on dependants.

Bringing your children to the UK during your studies

Many international students bring their families to the UK during their studies. There is a strong sense of community in Cardiff, and this guide aims to help you and your family transition smoothly into family life in Cardiff.

School admissions

If your children are under 16, they can attend government primary and secondary schools in the UK, but they must be in the UK as a dependent on your student route visa.

There are many Nursery, Primary and Secondary schools located in Cardiff, which are free to attend.

  • ​​​​​​Children are entitled to a part-time nursery from the start of the term after turning 3.
  • Children are admitted into Reception (also referred to as ‘Year 0’ in Primary School) in September following their fourth (4th) birthday during the normal admissions round.
  • Children transfer into Year 7 in Secondary School in September following their eleventh (11th) birthday during the normal admissions round.

Cardiff Council is responsible for most School Admissions in Cardiff. Find a school close to where you plan to live in Cardiff and learn more about school catchment areas.

The education and training inspectorate for Wales is Estyn, and you can find school inspection reports on the Estyn website.

We also recommend you contact a school directly if you have any questions regarding school facilities, curriculum, English language support etc.

You will need to make an admissions application to Cardiff Council to secure a school place.

If you have any questions or require assistance with completing a Schools Admission form or appealing a decision, you can visit or call one of the Cardiff Council Hubs services. They usually offer in-person appointments or can provide advice over the phone.

There are a few private (fee-paying) schools  in Cardiff. Admission applications would need to be submitted directly to the school.

There are also several faith schools in Cardiff. Cardiff Council run coordinated admissions for some faith schools. We recommend contacting Cardiff Council and the faith schools directly regarding admission enquiries.

Babies and younger children

If your child is 3 or 4, the Welsh government offers a 30-hour free childcare scheme. Further information can be found at: state the following:

'Parents who have ‘no recourse to public funds and are ‘subject to immigration control’ under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 can access free childcare if they meet the eligibility criteria.'

For more advice contact your local council, or visit the Working Families website

Further information on this scheme can be found on the Cardiff Council website. We recommend you contact the Welsh Government or Cardiff Council to check your eligibility for this scheme.

Cardiff Council also offers advice on finding a private nursery or childminder if, for example, your children are not of school age or you require after-school care.

We strongly recommend establishing how much such childcare will cost in advance of your studies; on average full day care at a private nursery for a young child can cost between £50-60 a day.

The university also operates a registered nursery for university staff and student dependants.

Cardiff University does not endorse any organisations or childminders on external websites. You will need to visit and make enquiries and background checks before enrolling your child.

Family life

Cardiff and its surrounding areas provide a great place to raise a family. There are many parks and green spaces and a wide range of activities for children, such as museums, beaches, sporting activities etc.

Cardiff has a Family Advice and Support Service, which offers information, advice and assistance for children, young people and their families. For example, they can advise on childcare, family life and child behaviour.

Our intranet also offers further suggestions for child activities, days out and general support when you are in Cardiff.

It is also quite popular within the nursery and school settings for parents to run a parents’ WhatApp group or a PTA (Parent-Teacher Association). You may wish to join one, as they can be a good source for local and school information.

Cardiff Universities Students’ Union also has many societies which may be of interest to you and your family. In addition, the Union run a Carers and Parents Association.

Registering with a GP

Cardiff Council has information on how to register with a local Doctor/GP.

UKCISA (The UK Council for International Student Affairs) has further useful information about healthcare entitlement and how to access it. Make sure you click on the Wales tab for information relating to living in Cardiff.


The UKVI (Home Office) states you should not pay for accommodation before you obtain your visa. We would however recommend you research suitable accommodation in Cardiff for you and your family in advance, as this will make your transition here easier. Find out more about accommodation available within the University for families.

For further information on how to find privately rented family accommodation visit Cardiff University’s Students’ website.