UK to stop international students from bringing family in bid to curb migration

The British government has introduced new regulations barring international students from bringing their dependents to the UK, in an effort to reduce migration rates.

Under the revised guidelines, set to take effect in January 2024, international students will not be able to bring their families with them, except in specific circumstances.

The opportunity to bring dependents will be limited to those enrolled in postgraduate research programs, recognised for their significant contributions to academia.

Additionally, the new measures will remove the option for international students to switch from the student route to work routes before completing their studies.

Despite promises that Brexit would have reduced migration into the UK, official statistics, due to be released later this week, project a rise in net migration from 504,000 in the 12 months leading up to June 2022 to over 700,000 in the year ending December.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister reiterated his commitment to getting the numbers down and said the statistics showed a recent rise in the number of dependents coming to the UK alongside international students. Around 136,000 visas were granted to dependents in 2022 – an eightfold increase from 2019.”

In a written ministerial statement on the issue, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said recent immigration figures had shown an “unexpected rise” in the number of dependants coming to the UK alongside international students.

Braverman said the increase was made after the government made its commitment to lower net migration.

“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,” she said.

However, she said that while the government’s strategy “plays an important part in supporting the economy”, it should “not be at the expense of our commitment to the public to lower overall migration”.

“This package strikes the right balance between acting decisively on tackling net migration and protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK,” she said.

“Now is the time for us to make these changes to ensure an impact on net migration as soon as possible. We expect this package to have a tangible impact on net migration. Taken together with the easing of temporary factors, we expect net migration to fall to pre-pandemic levels in the medium term.”

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