As of Monday, stricter visa norms for international students in the UK have come into force, particularly impacting those starting courses this month. The changes, announced by former Home Secretary Suella Braverman in May last year, are designed to clamp down on the use of student visas as a pathway for individuals seeking employment in the UK. One significant alteration involves limiting the ability of international students, including Indians, to bring family members, except for postgraduate research courses and courses with government-funded scholarships.
The UK Home Office emphasized that the measures are part of a broader strategy to reduce overall migration by preventing an estimated 300,000 people from coming to the UK. Home Secretary James Cleverly stated that these changes address the “unreasonable practice” of overseas students bringing dependents and aim to contribute to a significant reduction in migration. The government is determined to uphold its commitment to reduce migration levels.
The statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal a substantial increase in the number of visas issued to dependents of students, rising by over 930% since 2019. The changes, striking a balance to preserve the appeal of the UK’s higher education sector while curbing immigration, will collaborate with universities to devise an alternative approach for exceptional cases where the brightest students may bring dependents.
This move aligns with the UK government’s broader commitment to lower migration levels. Additional measures, such as tightening health and care visas, increasing salary thresholds, and reviewing the Graduate route, are part of a comprehensive strategy. The changes, while acknowledged as tough, are deemed fair to bring net migration down to sustainable levels gradually throughout early 2024.