British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed new immigration measures, restricting the ability of most foreign university students to bring their family members to the UK. Sunak emphasized that these changes are part of the government’s commitment to delivering for the British people in 2024.
According to the UK Home Office, starting from today, new overseas students will no longer be allowed to bring family members to the UK, with the exception of postgraduate research or government-funded scholarship students who will remain exempt from this rule.
The decision comes after the Sunak government had previously published changes to the Immigration Rules in July of the preceding year, impacting international students studying in the UK. As per the new rules, effective January 2024, international students will not be permitted to bring dependants on their Student visas, unless they are enrolled in a postgraduate research program.
Furthermore, since July last year, international students are no longer allowed to switch to work route visas unless they have completed their respective courses. The Prime Minister, in a statement last month, expressed concerns about high immigration levels and asserted that radical actions were necessary to bring them down. Sunak highlighted that these steps would ensure that immigration benefits the UK, emphasizing the government’s focus on preventing immigration from undercutting British workers.
In December 2023, UK Home Secretary James Cleverly announced a comprehensive plan to slash migration levels, constituting the most substantial reduction in net migration to date. The package of measures aims to prevent abuse of the immigration system and includes ending the high numbers of dependants coming to the UK. The government also plans to increase the minimum salaries for overseas workers and British citizens sponsoring family members.
Starting next spring, the earning threshold for overseas workers will see a nearly 50% increase, from £26,200 to £38,700. This move is intended to encourage businesses to prioritize British talent and invest in their workforce, discouraging over-reliance on migration.
Cleverly stated that this plan would result in the most significant-ever reduction in net migration, preventing around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year from being able to do so. The UK Home Office highlighted that a large proportion of visas were issued to workers and their dependents, with Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visas accounting for a substantial portion.
The new measures are part of the government’s broader strategy to address immigration concerns, with a particular emphasis on safeguarding the job market for British citizens and promoting self-sufficiency in the workforce. As these policies take effect, the impact on the dynamics of international student enrollment and the broader immigration landscape will undoubtedly be closely monitored.