Posted on May 3, 2024

Restrictions on Foreign Students Bringing Families to UK Sees Applications Plummet

Nicky Harley, The National, April 30, 2024

Tougher rules on foreign students and care workers bringing dependants to the UK will lead to a drop of about 300,000 people arriving in the country, government figures suggest.

There was an 80 per cent fall in student dependant applications, and 26,000 fewer student visa applications, in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

In January, the British government introduced measures to tighten student visa requirements, which prevented most international students starting courses this year from bringing family members with them.

Students can also no longer switch their visas before completing their course, preventing people from using the route to work in the UK.

The government also restricted care workers from bringing dependants to Britain.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said strong action was needed to “cut unsustainable and unfair levels of migration” and said the data reflected that this was being achieved.

“Ever-spiralling numbers were eroding the British people’s confidence in our immigration system, burdening public services and suppressing wages,” Mr Cleverly said.

“When I promised to deliver the largest-ever cut in legal migration, I knew we must also work to show the impact of our action as soon as practically possible.

“This data shows a significant fall in numbers on the first of our measures to take effect whilst underlining why necessary action was taken to cut unsustainable numbers of care worker dependants.

“This does not mark the end of the road in our plan to cut migration, there is more still to come. Over the coming months, we will continue to show the pace of our progress as we deliver the control the public rightly expect.”

The figures reveal that in the first quarter of 2024, dependant applications on the Health and Care visa continued to outnumber main applicants.

Measures to restrict care workers from bringing dependants came into effect on March 11 and the government believes its effects will be seen in future statistics.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals remain able to bring dependants.

Care providers acting as sponsors for migrants in England are now required to register with the industry regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), to reduce worker exploitation and abuse within the sector.

It follows incidents of care workers being offered visas under false pretences, recruited into non-existent jobs or paid below the minimum wage required for their work, exploiting them while undercutting British workers.

The government has also raised the general salary threshold for those arriving on the Skilled Worker visa from £26,200 to £38,700, meaning the effect of this measure will also be revealed in future statistics releases.

The government says the packages to reduce legal migration will mean approximately 300,000 people arriving in Britain last year would no longer be able to.

The Migration Advisory Committee is reviewing the graduate route for international students, to prevent abuse, and is due to publish its report next month.

The measures come as the government seeks to prevent small boats carrying asylum seekers from crossing the Channel. Last week, a bill to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda passed through the House of Lords.