UK Introduces Stricter Visa Rules for Postgraduate Students, Curbing Immigration and Work Opportunities.
In a bid to tighten immigration controls and prevent potential misuse of the system, the United Kingdom has unveiled new visa regulations for postgraduate students.
The reforms, set to be implemented in January 2024, aim to restrict the number of dependents that international students can bring and close the backdoor to work opportunities.
These changes come as a response to the significant increase in visas granted to student dependents.
Cracking Down on Immigration Loopholes
The UK government has recognized the strain on public services caused by a growing number of students bringing their family members to the country.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman emphasized the need to tighten the student route to reduce migration and alleviate pressure on public resources.
The reforms will address immigration loopholes and ensure that postgraduate students remain focused on their academic pursuits.
Limiting Dependents and Curbing Backdoor Employment
Under the new visa rules, family members of international students will face stricter restrictions on joining them in the UK. Only dependents of postgraduate research students will be permitted to accompany them.
The government aims to prevent students from using their academic status as a means to gain employment opportunities, closing the backdoor to work.
These measures will ensure that postgraduate students are dedicated to their studies and discourage any potential misuse of the student visa system.
The surge in Dependent Visas Spurs Reforms
The number of visas issued to student dependents has seen a significant surge in recent years. In the year ending December 2022, the figure skyrocketed to 136,000, a staggering increase from 16,000 in 2019.
To address this issue, the UK government is taking proactive steps to curtail the number of dependents and maintain better control over immigration.
Comprehensive Measures and Collaborative Approach
In addition to limiting dependents, the government will implement further measures to reinforce the integrity of the student visa system. This includes preventing international students from switching to work visas before completing their studies and reviewing the financial requirements for students and their dependents.
Authorities also plan to intensify enforcement against education agents suspected of facilitating inappropriate visa applications.
While emphasizing the commitment to attracting the brightest and best students to the UK, the government acknowledges the need to collaborate with universities to design alternative approaches. This collaborative effort will ensure that the country’s world-leading universities continue to attract top talent while simultaneously reducing net migration.
Anticipated Impact on Students and Universities
As these new regulations come into effect, there are concerns about their impact on specific student groups, particularly female students and those from certain countries.
Jamie Arrowsmith, the Director of Universities UK International (UUKi), voiced concern about the potential consequences for both students and universities. The government has been urged to closely monitor the impact and work with the sector to mitigate any adverse effects, considering the financial pressures already faced by universities.
Indians recently overtook the Chinese as the leading nationality granted study visas to the UK, with the majority accessing the visa launched in July 2021. Nigerian students, however, top the list of those bringing dependents, followed by Indians.