Career Overseas

UK Going to Block Dependents Visa from Accompanying International Students From 2024

 Quick Highlights

● As of January 2023, the UK government will ban international students from bringing their spouse or other dependents with them unless they are studying in a postgraduate course with a research project.

● The decision has been taken to help curb net migration.

● But the graduation route remains unaffected by updated immigration restrictions. Under this route, Eligible students can remain in the UK for 2-3 extended years.

● Students cannot switch to another skilled worker route unless they complete their studies.

● Strategies have been implemented to stop “unscrupulous” agents from migrating students.

● UK government says it remains committed to the UK’s International Education


● The target of 600,000 international students will be met for two consecutive years. 

In the UK, immigration is at a record high, and the current administration intends to reduce net migration by tightening the profile of immigrants who enter the nation. Net migration topped 500,000 between June 2021 and June 2022, surpassing the number recorded in 2019, and additional data that will be revealed this week is anticipated to indicate that the 2022 figure has increased by at least 200,000. 

The number of persons who relocate to the UK for at least a year divided by the number who depart over the same period is known as net migration. There are consequences for overseas students, notably in the shape of an updated regulation concerning student dependents that the Home Office and the Department of Education jointly issued.

International students won’t be allowed to accompany their loved ones to the UK from January 2024 unless enrolled in a postgraduate research degree (such as a research-based Ph.D. or master’s program). International students would not be allowed to bring dependents to postgraduate programs not categorized as research-oriented.

The Home Office reports that “almost 500,000 student visas were issued in 2022 while the total number of dependents of international learners has grown by 75% since 2019 to 136,000 people.” Children under 18, partners, and civil partners are considered dependents, as are elderly parents who require long-term care.

Blocking of Dependants May Have Tangible Effect 

The new policy is referred to by the government as the “single biggest restricting action an administration has ever done,” and according to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who is a relative hardliner on the necessity of lower migration to the UK, “We expect this set of measures to have a demonstrable impact on net migration.” According to her, the new regulation is “the fair approach to do that enables us to safeguard our government facilities while supporting economic growth through enabling the students who provide the greatest to keep coming here,” she adds. 

Additionally, Ms. Braverman notes that overseas students permitted to bring dependents will still have a greater burden of evidence to demonstrate their ability to “look after themselves and their dependents.”

Gillian Keegan, the secretary of education, says:

“Students are now bringing more family members to the UK than ever. It is appropriate that we are acting to lower this figure while upholding our adherence to our international education strategy, which serves to bolster the UK’s educational landscape and significantly boost the national economy”.

Students Have To Stay in Study Program Until Completed 

International students will never again be permitted to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa before finishing their education. The law is designed to deter international students from selecting the UK primarily for employment opportunities rather than academic pursuits. The Economic Times of India said last year that 

“Since it provides a less expensive and quicker track to full-time work in the UK, more and more overseas students are choosing [the Skilled Worker option]. On the other side, before accessing the labor market, students who choose the Graduate Route must pay exorbitant course fees and expenses for the entire program length.

The government is preventing non-real students who are motivated to find employment in the UK from using the Skilled Worker Route as a backdoor.

Will The Policy Change? 

It’s unclear how much freedom Ms. Braverman will provide as to which students may bring dependents:

“Over the upcoming year, we plan to collaborate with institutions to develop a different strategy to guarantee that the smartest and most talented learners may enroll their dependents at our top-ranked colleges while continuing to lower net migration. This system will be implemented as soon as feasible following extensive engagement with the industry and important stakeholders.

The graduation Route Still remains Unaffected. 

Last year, there was worry in the foreign education community that the Home Office might shorten the Graduate Route’s two-year maximum stay in the UK to only six months. The Graduate Route will still allow overseas students to remain in the country for two years (three years for doctoral/Ph.D. candidates), notwithstanding the anticipated drop.

Bottom Line 

While most students won’t be impacted by plans restricting the ability to bring dependents with them, more details about the covered programs must be known before an impact assessment can be done properly. However, we know that any adjustments would affect women and students from particular nations disproportionately. In short, if you want to study overseas and bring your spouse to the UK, apply before the strategy is implemented.

Career Overseas is here to guide you… 

With changing policies and programs, it becomes complicated for students to fulfill their dream of studying in overseas universities. But don’t worry! We at Career Overseas provide the right guidance about upcoming updates and how students can successfully apply for a visa to study in the UK. For more information on spouse visas, contact us at your earliest and get the best response. 

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