Crackdown on Student Visas Yields Drastic Drop in Dependent Numbers in UK

by Antariksh Singh

The United Kingdom government is hailing a significant achievement in its immigration policy, as recent data reveals a sharp decline in the number of dependents accompanying overseas students. This development comes in the wake of a rigorous crackdown on student visas implemented earlier this year.

According to an update issued by the Home Office, the period from January to March this year saw a staggering 80 percent decrease in dependents compared to the same timeframe in 2023. This decline coincides with a substantial reduction of over 26,000 student visa applications.

The impact of these measures is particularly notable within the Indian student community, which has historically dominated international student visa statistics in the UK. The decline in dependents suggests a potential downturn in the number of Indian students opting for British universities.

The new regulations, effective since January, restrict most international students from bringing family members, except those enrolled in research courses. Additionally, students are no longer permitted to switch their visas before completing their studies, a measure aimed at curbing visa misuse as a means to work in the UK.

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly emphasized the necessity of these actions, citing concerns over the integrity of the immigration system and its impact on public services and wages. Cleverly’s office released interim data to underscore the effectiveness of the visa crackdowns, which he claims are the largest-ever cuts in legal migration.

The tightening of visa norms has already begun to manifest in official statistics, with a noticeable decrease in study visa grants to Indian nationals. Furthermore, ongoing reviews of visa routes, including the post-study Graduate Route, are expected to further restrict opportunities for international students seeking employment in the UK.

In addition to student visas, the government has implemented measures affecting foreign care workers, aimed at preventing exploitation and abuse within the social care sector. While doctors and nurses remain exempt, restrictions on dependents for other care workers came into effect in March.

The recent data also reflects changes in the Skilled Worker visa program, including an increase in the general salary threshold. These combined measures are projected to significantly reduce the number of individuals arriving in the UK, aligning with the government’s priority of reducing both legal and illegal migration.

Looking ahead, the UK government is expected to continue its immigration reforms, including the enforcement of deportation schemes for illegal migrants. The controversial Safety of Rwanda Bill, recently passed into law, paves the way for compulsory deportation of failed asylum seekers.

As the government aims to navigate these policy changes amidst preparations for an upcoming general election, the impact of these immigration reforms continues to reverberate both domestically and internationally.

Antariksh Singh

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