Education has become the backbone of British industry. But the UK will face a new thorny problem –—– negative growth in immigration from studying abroad.
The UK issued around 135,788 visas to dependents of international students last year, almost nine times as many as in 2019, according to government statistics.
With net migration to the UK rising to a record high, the Home Office announced two major immigration reforms on 23 May:
1. Postgraduate students with a PhD or less are not allowed to bring their family members to Britain.
2.Ungraduated students will not be allowed to apply for a work visa.
The new policy is expected to be implemented in January 2024 and will apply to all international students!
Not allowed to bring family members to the UK
Currently, the UK allows international students on a study visa to stay for at least two years after graduation. A student visa allows family members (spouse and children under 18 years of age) to apply for residency.
But the new policy would remove those rights.
The UK’s latest policy states that only international students on designated postgraduate programmes will be allowed to bring their families (including children and parents) to the UK.
Partners and children of students on general postgraduate courses will no longer be allowed to apply for long-term visas to live in the UK for the duration of their studies.
Dependents of students will not be able to get a Dependant visa to study in the UK. This also means that once the policy is implemented, undergraduate and research students converted to PSW visas (graduate visas) cannot bring family members.
(Doctoral students, however, will not be affected by the policy because they are “highly skilled immigrants.”)
British educators believe that restrictions on accompanying visas will undoubtedly affect the number of international students.
In 2021 / 2022, there will be nearly 680 thousand international students in the UK. China is the UK’s largest source of international students, with 151,690 students. India is next with 126,535 students.
If all international students below PhD level were banned from bringing their families to the UK, more than 300,000 of them would no longer be able to bring their families to the UK during their studies.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:
“We are committed to attracting the brightest and best to the UK. So we intend to work with universities over the next year to design an alternative approach that ensures the best and brightest students can bring their dependents to our world-class universities, while continuing to reduce net migration.”
Previously, the UK introduced the family visa policy, in fact, out of humanitarian considerations, so that an overseas family does not have to live in two countries during the period of 1-2 years of master’s study.
But in recent years, many people have taken advantage of loopholes, many students with lower education level of dependents to the United Kingdom, enjoy the benefits of the United Kingdom without making any contribution to the British economy, resulting in the abuse of the British immigration system. But the British media also pointed out that this is mainly led by Nigerian and Indian students.
From June 2021 to June 2022, there were more than 500 thousand net migrants in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Of these, nearly 136 thousand came to the UK on family visas, with 70 per cent coming from poorer regions such as Nigeria and India.
The top 10 countries with the highest number of T2 work visas issued by the UK in 2019-2022 are: India, Philippines, Nigeria, USA, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, South Africa, China, Ghana and Australia.
So, in order to prevent the visa system from being abused, in addition to the family visa, the Home Office has announced another important reform –
That is, overseas students cannot switch from the student visa route to any form of work visa route until they have completed their studies.
International students who have not graduated
Not allowed to apply for a UK work visa
The work visa process includes:
l Innovator Founder visa
l Skilled Worker visa
l Expansion Worker visa
l Scale up visa
l Global Talent visa
In addition, the BBC also revealed that the Democratic Party is planning to shorten the working visa period from two years to six.
In addition, the British government will also focus on cracking down on “unethical intermediaries.”
When applying for a student visa and a dependent visa (before the new policy is implemented in 2024), review the relevant funds held by the visa applicant, To prove that they and their families have sufficient funds to live in the UK, and to clamp down on unscrupulous international student agents who may improperly assist international students in applying for visas.
In summary, the British government’s latest official immigration policy includes:
1. Limit international students to bring their family members to the UK. Only postgraduate and PhD students who are pursuing research-oriented courses can bring their family members to accompany them to the UK.
2. International students cannot change from a student visa to a work visa until they have completed their studies.
3. Further strict examination of the financial proof of students and their families (British media interpretation said that this may mean that the financial requirements of future international students will be increased if they wish to apply for a visa for their families).
4. Take measures to crack down on illegal and unethical intermediaries who profit by selling migrants under the guise of studying abroad;
5. Better communication of immigration rules to UK universities and international students, and more targeted enforcement.
The British government believes that net migration to the UK is expected to fall significantly over a period of time through the reform of the two major immigration policies mentioned above.
This visa change therefore strikes the right balance between supporting the UK economy, including the balance of payments for world-leading educational institutions, and upholding the UK Government’s commitment to reducing overall net migration.
All in all, the immigration reform focuses on tightening and restricting the number of people who come to the UK on a student visa and stay in the UK. The main aim is to significantly reduce net migration to the UK, while protecting the economic benefits of overseas students by preventing abuse of the UK immigration system.
For normal students to study in the UK, it is not affected, but now there are some conditions, such as unmarried partners, spouses, children, etc., are not allowed to go together.
What do you think of this policy?