The United Kingdom, UK has barred foreign students studying for master’s degree programme from travelling with their family members, however, exemptions have been made for those doing post-graduate research programmes including PhDs.
The move which affect all overseas students, apart from those on postgraduate research programmes, will take effect from January.
The package, announced ahead of figures on Thursday which are expected to show net migration running at record levels, amounts to the “single biggest tightening measure a government has ever done”.
It also removes the ability for international students to switch out of the student route into work before their studies have been completed.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled a package of new restrictions on foreign students, including Nigerians, on Tuesday.
She said the plan aimed at reducing net migration to sustainable levels.
“Foreign students will be banned from bringing dependants to Britain with them unless they are on postgraduate research programme,” she said of the exemptions on the ban on foreign students including Nigerians from bringing family members.
“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.”
A statement on the UK’s Home Office official site adds that the “New government restrictions to student visa routes will substantially cut net migration by restricting the ability for international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes and banning people from using a student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK.
“The ONS estimated that net migration was over 500,000 from June 2021 to June 2022. Although partly attributed to the rise in temporary factors, such as the UK’s Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes, last year almost half a million student visas were issued while the number of dependants of overseas students has increased by 750% since 2019, to 136,000 people.”
The Home Office also noted that this new rule is not at the expense of the government’s commitment to the public to lower overall migration and ensure that migration to the UK is highly skilled and provides the most benefit.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told his cabinet that around 136,000 visas were granted to dependents in 2022, an eightfold increase from 16,000 in 2019.
According to data obtained from Home Office last year, Nigerians accounted for the highest increase in the number of dependants accompanying persons with study visas for the year ending in June 2022.
With the development, Nigerians hoping to study in the UK as foreign students will have to explore the postgraduate research routes to bring their family members along.
With additional reports from Daily Trust