UK Implements Visa Rules for International Students' Dependents

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News International Studies by Erudera News Jan 08, 2024

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International students in the United Kingdom will no longer be permitted to bring dependents while on their student visa, except for those enrolled in research postgraduate programs.

New restrictions were announced in May 2023 by former British home secretary Suella Braverman and became effective on January 1, 2024, Erudera.com reports.

"The UK is a top destination for the brightest students to learn at some of the world's best universities. But we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of student dependents being brought into the country with visas," Braverman said when introducing the measures.

Back then, she highlighted it was the fairest thing to do in order to protect public services and support economic growth by allowing only international students who contribute the most to the country to enter the UK.

The decision will affect over 600,00 international students already studying in the UK, according to data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Statistics from the Home Office show that almost 136,000 visas were issued to family members of sponsored students in 2022, which increased more than eight times from the 2019 figure of 16,000.

"Although partly attributed to the rise in temporary factors, such as the UK's Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes, last year almost half a million student visas were issued while the number of dependants of overseas students has increased by 750 percent since 2019, to 136,000," people," the Home Office said in a statement.

The United Kingdom witnessed a record-breaking annual net migration of 745,000 last year, and the levels have remained high since. Between June 2021 and June 2022, Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that net migration in the UK was over 500,000.

However, the UK remains committed to its target of 600,000 international students in the UK annually by 2030.

Additionally, the Home Office's statement also said that international students in the UK will no longer be able to switch their student visa to a working visa before graduating.

These restrictions are part of the country's government's reduction of net migration, which has usually been very high in the past two years.

Up to now, nothing has changed in the two-year post-study work visa, which was welcomed by the higher education sector. Nonetheless, in December 2023, the UK government said that post-study work visas would be reviewed as a part of the new measures to reduce migration in the country.

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