The United Kingdom has slammed restrictions on foreign students from bringing family members with them from 2024.
Glamtush reports that the UK was mulling restrictions to curb net migration.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Home Office said the development was necessary to stop people from using the student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK.
“Last year almost half a million student visas were issued while the number of dependants of overseas students has increased by 750% since 2019, to 136,000 people,” the Home Office said.
“The new reforms will come into effect for students starting in January next year. The government will however work with the higher education sector to explore alternative options to ensure the brightest and best students can continue to bring dependents when they study at the UK’s world-leading universities.”
The UK said overseas students will be stopped from switching from the student visa route to a work visa until their studies have been completed.
The UK government said it will also review the required funds students must have to demonstrate they can look after themselves and their dependents.
The Home Office said the government will clamp down on “unscrupulous” international student agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications.
Suella Braverman, secretary of state for the home department, said the move was necessary to protect the UK economy.
“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.
“It is time for us to tighten up this route to ensure we can cut migration numbers and meet the government’s pledge to the British people to cut net migration. This is the fair thing to do to allow us to better protect our public services, while supporting the economy by allowing the students who contribute the most to keep coming here.”
The ban will affect all master’s students and some other post-graduates, but it will not apply to PhD students who are highly skilled and whose courses last between three to five years.
If implemented, the crackdown will affect many Nigerian students hoping to pursue their postgraduate studies in the UK, as they accounted for the highest increase in the number of dependants accompanying persons with study visas in 2022.
Nigerian nationals also accounted for the largest increase in sponsored study grants compared with 2019, rising by 57,545 (+686%) to a record high of 65,929, making them the third largest nationality group.
The development is the latest in Braverman’s “aspirations” to restrict migrants from entering the UK. It comes months after she announced plans to reform the graduate visa route.