The UK government has announced new restrictions to student visa routes that will substantially cut net migration. The changes will restrict the ability of international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes and ban people from using a student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK.
The government has also reaffirmed its commitment to the International Education Strategy which plays an important part in supporting the economy through the economic contribution students can bring to the UK.
New Reforms Will Come Into Effect in January 2024
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.
Changes Aimed to Prevent Misuse of Visa System
To prevent misuse of the visa system, overseas students will be stopped from switching from the student visa route to work routes until their studies have been completed.
The government will also review the funds students must have to demonstrate they can look after themselves and their dependents in the UK, as well as clamp down on unscrupulous international student agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications.
Changes Expected to Have Significant Impact on Net Migration
Taken together with the easing of temporary factors, net migration is expected to fall considerably over the medium term. As such, the changes to student visas strike the right balance in supporting the UK economy, including world-leading education institutions, and upholding the government’s commitment to reducing overall net migration.
Quotes from Home Secretary and Education Secretary
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:
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.Advertisement
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.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:
Attracting the top students from around the world isn’t just good for our universities – it’s essential for our economy and building vital global relationships.
But the number of family members being brought to the UK by students has risen significantly. It is right we are taking action to reduce this number while maintaining commitment to our International Education Strategy, which continues to enrich the UK’s education sector and make a significant contribution to the wider economy.Advertisement
Following the UK leaving the EU, the government introduced a points-based immigration system, giving the government full control of the country’s borders, which is designed to flex to the needs of the economy and labour market and ensure we have the skills and talent needed by UK businesses and the NHS.
The government keeps its immigration policies under review to ensure they are delivering on commitments to the public on net migration.