International students will no longer be able to bring dependants unless they are on postgraduate courses that are currently designated as research programmes.
The changes will come into effect for students starting their courses from January 2024 in order to allow future international students time to plan ahead according to Sky News.
International students whocoming to study masters or above level courses in the UK for any intake before January 2024 will be allowed to bring dependants as per the current policy.
The move comes as official statistics are expected to confirm that net migration rose to more than 700,000 in the year to December 2022. The move is a reflection of government bid to bring immigration down and changes to student visa route will reduce net migration reported in Home Office website.
Around 136,000 visas were granted to dependants of sponsored students in the year ending December 2022, an increase from 16,000 in 2019.
In a written ministerial statement, Home Secretary SuellaBraverman said recent immigration figures had shown an "unexpected rise" in the number of dependants coming to the UK alongside international students.
The move is a temporary measure while the government finalises an "alternative approach" which it says will ensure "the best and the brightest students can bring dependants to our world leading universities, while continuing to reduce net migration".
International students are also no longer able to switch from a study visa to a skilled work visa before completing their course, following a growing trend of newly-arrived students dropping out to work in the care sector and not finishing their studies.
Other measures announced include a clampdown on "unscrupulous education agents" who are selling "immigration not education" and a review of the "maintenance requirements" for students and dependants. The government has yet to release further details on these policy change.
The graduate route visa (Post Study Work - PSW visa), which allows international students to stay and work in the UK once they graduate, remains unchanged.
Jamie Arrowsmith, director of Universities UK International, said the changes regarding the ability bring dependants would have a "disproportionate impact on women and students from certain countries".
And Tim Bradshaw, the chief executive of the Russell Group of universities, said he was concerned the new rules could have a "negative impact" on universities' plans to diversify their student intakes.
In response to the written ministerial statement issued today by Home Office, Anne Marie Graham, Chief Executive of UKCISA, said:
Here at UKCISA, we welcome commitment to International Education Strategy's targets and continued support for the Graduate Route. We are deeply disappointed to see this policy take effect to end the right to bring dependants for those on postgraduate taught courses……………………………………………………..We will continue to raise our concerns about this policy with government departments and hope that changes will be reviewed.
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