The UK Home Office announced new reforms on Tuesday regarding international students and their ability to bring their families with them into the country. The move is seen as an attempt to control the UK’s rising immigration numbers. In 2022, alone, the UK reportedly issued half a million student visas to international students.
The government claims the reforms will reduce net migration figures by “restricting the ability for international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes.” The aim is to prevent alleged misuse of the UK’s visa system by preventing international students from being eligible to convert their student visas into work visas until their studies are completed. This impacts international students’ ability to establish permanence within the UK.
The UK government is also set to reexamine the funds provided to international students.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman commented on the new reforms, stating, “The significant rise in students bringing family members is putting untenable pressure on public services. Tightening the student route will help to cut migration by restricting post-graduate students from bringing dependents or using the route as a backdoor to work.”
Meanwhile, the UK University and College Union (UCU) condemned the move, calling it “vindictive.” A statement from UCU General Secretary Jo Grady read, “This is another deeply shameful moment for a government hell-bent on attacking migrants and undermining our universities.”
Recently, the UK government has sought to crackdown on increasing immigration to the country. Earlier in May, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for changes to international law regarding migration, which experts fear would allow the government to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Sunak’s call for changes coincided with the attempted passage of his government’s Illegal Migration Bill, which would require the deportation of anyone who illegally entered the UK and passed through a safe country.
The reforms announced Tuesday will go into effect beginning on January 1, 2024.