The Government has announced restrictions on some student visa routes as part of reforms aiming to cut net migration. The restrictions will restrict the ability for international students to bring family members to join them during their studies on all but post-graduate research routes, and also restrict anyone using student visas solely as a route to work in the UK.

Students with Families/Dependents

The ONS estimated that net migration was over 500,000 from June 2021 to June 2022, with 2022 seeing almost half a million student visas issued, while the number of dependants of overseas students having increased by 750% since 2019, to 136,000 people. It is stated that these restrictions will be coupled with clamp-down on third-party agents who supply innacurate or inappropriate advice to international students with families who are considering studying in the UK.

International Students and Work Visas

As part of these changes, international students will be unable to switch from the student visa route into work routes until their studies have been completed.

No changes have been made to the two-year post study work visa.

It is noted that these changes will come into effect for students commencing studies from January 2024 onwards.

A statement from the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan reads:

Attracting the top students from around the world isn’t just good for our universities - it’s essential for our economy and building vital global relationships.

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 commitment to our International Education Strategy, which continues to enrich the UK’s education sector and make a significant contribution to the wider economy.

Anne Marie Graham, chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, has said:

I am deeply disappointed to see this policy take effect to end the right to bring dependants for those on postgraduate taught courses. The policy will disproportionately affect potential international students who are unable to travel with dependants and will mean that they choose to study elsewhere.

 The full announcement can be consulted on the Government website.