Many international students to lose right to bring family to UK in Home Office bid to curb immigration

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Under new immigration curbs, overseas post-graduate students on certain courses will no longer be able to bring family members to the UK.

International post-graduate students on certain courses will no longer be able to bring family members to the UK under new immigration rules. Partners and children of post-graduate students, other than those studying on courses designated as research programmes, will no longer be allowed to apply to live in the UK during the course.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told ministers that the change, which will come into force in January 2024, would help bring migration down. But the impact the curb will have on official migration levels is not clear as students and family members who come to the UK for less than a year are not counted.

It comes just days before official statistics are expected to show legal migration has hit a record 700,000 in 2023. 135,788 visas were granted to dependants of foreign students last year - a rise from 54,486 in 2021 and more than seven times the 19,139 granted in 2020.

Last week, the PM said ministers were “considering a range of options” to bring migration down. The Conservatives have previously promised to bring net migration below 100,000 a year, but ditched this target in 2019.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the rise in dependants being granted visas was “unprecedented,” and it was “time for us to tighten up this route to ensure we can cut migration numbers”. In a statement to Parliament. she added that the move “strikes the right balance” between bringing down migration and “protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK”.

International students who come to the UK will no longer be able to bring family with them except under specific circumstances in a government bid to bring immigration down.International students who come to the UK will no longer be able to bring family with them except under specific circumstances in a government bid to bring immigration down.
International students who come to the UK will no longer be able to bring family with them except under specific circumstances in a government bid to bring immigration down. | Trombax - stock.adobe.com

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said attracting top students “isn’t just good for our universities - it’s essential for our economy and building vital global relationships”. She added:“But the number of family members being brought to the UK by students has risen significantly.”

“It is right we are taking action to reduce this number while maintaining a commitment to our international education strategy, which continues to enrich the UK’s education sector and make a significant contribution to the wider economy.”

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