In a move aimed at curbing immigration, the United Kingdom has announced that foreign postgraduate students enrolled in non-research courses will no longer be permitted to bring their family members to the country. The decision comes just two days ahead of the release of official statistics, which are anticipated to reveal record-breaking legal migration figures of approximately 700,000 individuals this year.

Last year alone, a staggering 135,788 visas were granted to dependants of foreign students, a figure nearly nine times higher than that of 2019. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reportedly informed ministers that this policy change, set to take effect in January 2024, will have a substantial impact on reducing migration numbers, as disclosed by No 10.

While discussing potential measures to lower migration, Prime Minister Sunak previously stated that the government was “considering a range of options,” but refrained from specifying an acceptable level of immigration. The Conservative party had previously pledged to bring net migration below 100,000 per year; however, this target was abandoned prior to the 2019 election after repeated failures to achieve it.

Under the newly announced regulations, partners and children of postgraduate students, excluding those enrolled in research programs, will no longer be eligible to apply for residency in the UK during the duration of the course. Notably, the 135,788 dependant visas issued last year constituted over a fifth of all sponsored study-related visas granted, in stark contrast to the 6% recorded in 2019.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman expressed concern over the unprecedented surge in the number of dependant visas granted, stating that it was time to tighten this pathway to reduce overall migration figures. In a statement delivered to Parliament, Braverman emphasized that the decision strikes the right balance by simultaneously curbing migration and safeguarding the economic benefits that students bring to the UK.

The new immigration curbs are poised to reshape the landscape for postgraduate students and their families, fueling ongoing debates about migration policy and its impact on the country’s socio-economic fabric.