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Nigeria Tops List As UK Bars Foreign Students From Bringing Family Members Over By January 2024

May 23, 2023

Under the proposals, only a limited number of those who come from abroad to study in the UK will still be allowed to bring their partners or children to the country from January 2024….

The British Government under its new plan to cut immigration numbers has announced the proposal to ban foreign students from bringing family members to the country.

The crackdown on foreign students bringing dependants to Britain comes ahead of fresh migration figures being released on Thursday.

Ministers are braced for the official statistics to show a huge surge in net migration – possibly above 700,000 – last year.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman this afternoon unveiled a package of new restrictions on foreign students aimed at helping to reduce net migration to ‘sustainable levels’.

Under her plans:

– Foreign students will be banned from bringing dependants to Britain with them unless they are on postgraduate research programmes

– Foreign students will no longer be able to switch out of the student route into work routes for staying in the UK before their studies have been completed 

– Efforts will be made to clamp down on ‘unscrupulous education agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications to sell immigration not education’.

Internal government modelling is said to have predicted the crackdown on foreign students bringing dependants to Britain will cut immigration by between 120,000 and 150,000, based on 2023 figures.

Yet Mrs Braverman appeared to have lost out in her battle for further restrictions on foreign students by cutting the amount of time they can stay in the UK after graduating.

It had previously been reported the Home Secretary wanted to slash the period that overseas students could remain in Britain after completing their courses from two years to just six months.

A curb on the amount of time overseas university students can stay in Britain was recently backed by Professor Brian Bell, chairman of the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which advises ministers on migration issues.

But Downing Street today defended keeping the two-year period in place.

Ahead of Thursday’s release of official migration figures, some forecasts have suggested net migration could top 700,000 in the 12 months to December last year.

This would easily exceed the record of 500,000 in the year to June 2022, while one analysis suggested the figure could even reach near to one million.

Already published Home Office figures show 485,758 sponsored study visas were granted last year, which was a new high.

There were 135,788 visas granted to dependants – such as partners or children – of foreign students over the 12 months.

This was a more than eight-fold increase from the 16,047 visas granted to dependants in 2019.

Nigeria had the highest number of dependants (60,923) of sponsored study visa holders in 2022, while India had the second highest number of dependants (38,990).

There were almost 120,000 dependant visas granted to the top five nationalities of Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka last year.

The Home Office has suggested the growth in study related visas granted to dependants could be because a greater number of older students are coming to Britain.

In a written ministerial statement – in which she unveiled the new restrictions on foreign students – Mrs Braverman today acknowledged there had been an ‘unexpected rise’ in the number of dependants coming to the UK alongside international students over recent years.

She added: ‘This does not detract from the considerable success that the Government and the higher education sector have had in achieving the goals from our International Education Strategy, meeting our target to host 600,000 international students studying in the UK per year by 2030, for two years running, and earlier than planned – a success story in terms of economic value and exports.

‘The International Education Strategy plays an important part in supporting the economy through the economic contribution students can bring to the UK, but this should not be at the expense of our commitment to the public to lower overall migration and ensure that migration to the UK is highly skilled and therefore provides the most benefit.’

‘The proposals we are announcing today will ensure that we can continue to meet our International Education Strategy commitments, while making a tangible contribution to reducing net migration to sustainable levels.’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Rishi Sunak believed the action on dependants of foreign students would make a ‘significant difference’ in reducing net migration.

He also defended a decision to keep the rule allowing graduates to work for two years in the UK after completing their postgraduate courses.

‘It is right that we recognise that it is of benefit to the UK that our student sector is extremely competitive,’ the spokesman said.

‘That is a good thing that should be encouraged. So what we are seeking to do is to get the balance right with this package, that addresses some unexpected impacts from some of the policies, redresses the balance but also ensures we retain that competitive advantage.’

He added: ‘We think it is right that we have an attractive offer to students who are some of the best students in the world, so they can come to the UK and study and work.’









Speaking at the G7 summit in Japan over the weekend, the PM had revealed he was ‘considering a range of options’ to bring down net migration.

‘Let me be unequivocal that future numbers of legal migration are too high and I’m committed and the Government is committed to bringing those numbers down,’ Mr Sunak said.

But the PM is facing renewed calls to remove foreign students from migration statistics altogether, with some Tory MPs claiming they give an ‘artificial’ view of the figures.

Former minister Chris Skidmore posted on Twitter: ‘The easiest and fastest way to reduce net migration is to remove international students from these artificial statistics.

‘They aren’t migrants, the vast majority leave after their studies, they subsidise home student fees and research, and spend over £40bn in local economies.’ (Culled from Daily Mail)

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