In an effort to reduce net migration, the UK government has decided to prohibit all international students from bringing family members to the country beginning in January 2024, with the exception of postgraduates participating in research programmes.
This “single biggest tightening measure a government has ever done” was revealed before Thursday’s numbers, which are expected to show net migration running at record levels.
Around 136,000 dependent visas were issued in 2022, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak informed his Cabinet, an increase of eight times from the 2019 total of 16,000.
During a parliamentary session, the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, stated that the proposed measures achieve a suitable equilibrium between effectively addressing net migration and safeguarding the economic advantages that international students can offer to the United Kingdom.
“Now is the time for us to make these changes to ensure an impact on net migration as soon as possible. We expect this package to have a tangible impact on net migration.
“Taken together with the easing of temporary factors, we expect net migration to fall to pre-pandemic levels in the medium term.”
The latest development eliminates the ability for international students to switch from the student visa route into employment prior to the completion of their studies and denies them the right to bring dependents with them unless they are enrolled in postgraduate programmes that are currently designated as research programmes.