London: The UK government announced a new immigration crackdown targeted at overseas students, including Indians, and their visa right to bring dependent family members to the country while enrolled at a British institution.
In a written statement to the House of Commons, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that only international students on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programs will be allowed to bring in their family members, including children and elderly parents, as their dependents.
The Indian-origin minister said the new package of measures was necessary after it emerged that around 136,000 visas were granted to dependents of sponsored students in the year ending December 2022 – a more than eight-fold increase from 16,000 in 2019.
“This package includes: removing the right for international students to bring dependents unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programs,” Braverman’s statement notes.
Removing the ability for international students to switch out of the student route onto work routes before their studies have been completed and reviewing the maintenance requirements for students and dependents are listed among the other new measures.
The minister also pledged steps to clamp down on unscrupulous education agents “who may be supporting inappropriate applications to sell immigration, not education”.
“The terms of the graduate route remain unchanged… We are committed to attracting the brightest and the best to the UK. Therefore, our intention is to work with universities over the course of the next year to design an alternative approach that ensures that the best and the brightest students can bring dependents to our world-leading universities while continuing to reduce net migration,” she said.
The new curbs are expected to be enforced “as soon as possible”, after consultation with the educational sector and key stakeholders.