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UK to disallow some international students from bringing families

In an attempt to curb migration in the country, the United Kingdom has announced new rules for postgraduate students who wish to bring their families with them

UK education, UK visa, visa rules

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The United Kingdom has announced that international students will no longer be allowed to bring dependents, except under special conditions. This policy will go into effect in January 2024 and will also prevent students from switching out of the student-visa route for the work-visa route before their studies are complete.

The current rules allow postgraduate students enrolled in programs lasting nine months and above to bring their partners, children and dependent parents. Should the rule be changed, these students will be affected. However, students on research-led masters courses and PhD students will be exempted from the new rules.

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman gave a written statement, reported by Reuters, stating that high migration was the main reason for the announcement. Braverman added that it aimed to stop "inappropriate applications to sell immigration, not education".

This is part of the Rishi Sunak government's drive to reduce annual net migration. Sunak pledged to bring down legal migration and stated that he was considering a range of options.

In the same report, the government claimed that the number of dependents since 2019 had increased eightfold. Net migration was at an all-time high of 504,000 in 2022, with 136,000 migrants being dependent on students enrolled in postgraduate programs.

Last year the UK issued 486,000 student visas, making up a significant portion of the overall number of visas granted by the nation.

This comes after the government introduced a point-based system in 2020 to regain control of their borders after Brexit.

During this address in the House of Commons on Wednesday, member of Parliament Carol Monaghan pointed out that international students contributed nearly £43 billion to the UK economy last year alone, which could severely impact the country's university and higher education sector.

Representing the home secretary in the Commons is UK's Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick reiterated the home secretary's sentiments on Wednesday, stating, "Universities should be in the education business, not the immigration business".

As a way of explanation, he added, "We are taking a concerted action to deliver a fair and effective immigration system that benefits our citizens, our businesses, and our economy. We are determined to get this right as it is demonstrably in the national interest."

The high number of immigrants has been a part of the UK political discourse for a long time and even played a major role in the Brexit referendum in 2016. 

This decision may severely impact Indian students planning to study in the UK, as Indian students made up 25 per cent of student visas in 2022, according to a report by The Economic Times.

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First Published: May 25 2023 | 3:52 PM IST

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