In a recent announcement, the United Kingdom’s Home Office signaled the commencement of its stringent immigration policy, impacting Nigerian students and other overseas students studying in the UK. The policy, enacted on Monday, restricts the ability of new overseas students to bring family members into the country via the study visa route, with only postgraduate research or government-sponsored scholarship students exempted.
The Home Office, taking to X (formerly Twitter), emphasized their unwavering commitment to significantly reduce migration. “From today, new overseas students will no longer be able to bring family members to the UK. Postgraduate research or government-funded scholarships students will be exempt,” stated the Home Office.
This move follows the implementation of a law in May 2023, specifically targeting Nigerian students and others, preventing them from bringing family as dependents, except under specific circumstances. The UK government’s objective is to curtail immigration, currently standing at about one million, and ensure a more controlled influx.
Under the new regulations, international students will no longer have permission to switch from the student route to work routes before completing their studies, aimed at preventing misuse of the visa system. Sky News reported additional measures, including a review of the maintenance requirement for students and dependents and a crackdown on “unscrupulous” education agents exploiting inappropriate applications for immigration purposes rather than education.
The official statement on the UK’s Home Office website affirms that these restrictions on student visa routes will significantly reduce net migration. The government aims to limit the ability of international students to bring family members, except for postgraduate research routes, and eliminate the exploitation of student visas as a backdoor route to work in the UK.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that net migration exceeded $500,000 from June 2021 to June 2022. While temporary factors, such as the UK’s Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes, contributed to the increase, almost half a million student visas were issued last year. The number of dependents of overseas students also rose by 750% since 2019, reaching 136,000 people.
The Home Office emphasized that these measures align with the government’s commitment to lower overall migration and ensure that migration to the UK is highly skilled and beneficial. The proposed changes aim to uphold the International Education Strategy commitments while making a tangible contribution to reducing net migration to sustainable levels. The government has clarified that the terms of the graduate route remain unchanged.