Most foreign students to be banned from bringing families to UK in immigration crackdown
New immigration rules that will ban most foreign students from bringing their families to the UK were announced on Tuesday.
The Government said the number of visas issued to dependents coming to Britain with international students had increased eight-fold - up from up from 16,000 in 2019 to 136,000 last year.
Under current graduate visas, master’s students can bring their partners and children with them and they can stay in the country for two years after their course finishes.
But new laws will remove these rights. The ban will apply to people studying many post graduate courses, but not PHD students.
Maintenance and attendance requirements will also be reviewed under the plans, the Government said.
The new restrictions are set to apply to overseas students beginning courses after January 2024.
In a written ministerial statement, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “We are committed to attracting the brightest and the best to the UK. Therefore, our intention is to work with universities over the course of the next year to design an alternative approach that ensures that the best and the brightest students can bring dependants to our world leading universities, while continuing to reduce net migration. We will bring in this system as soon as possible, after thorough consultation with the sector.”
She added that the new rules include:
- Banning international students from bringing dependents unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes;
- Removing the ability for international students to switch out of the student route into work routes before their studies have been completed;
- Steps to clamp down on “unscrupulous education agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications to sell immigration not education”;
- Better communicating immigration rules to the higher education sector and to international students;
- Improved and targeted enforcement activity.
It comes as data due to be released on Thursday is expected to show net migration has rocketed to more than 700,000, despite Government promises to reduce numbers.
The Tory manifesto that Boris Johnson stood on at the 2019 election pledged to lower net migration from the then level of less than 230,000.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week said immigration was “too high”, but he refused to commit to lowering levels significantly before the next election.
“What I would say is we’re considering a range of options to help tackle numbers of legal migration and to bring those numbers down,” he said.
He added that he is “crystal clear” he wants to reduce the number of people coming to the UK, but when pressed to what level, he said: “I’m not going to put a precise figure on it but I do want to bring them down."