Under new immigration restrictions, foreign postgraduate students on non-research degrees will no longer be permitted to bring family members to the UK.
The news comes only two days before official data are likely to indicate that legal migration has reached a new high of 700,000 this year.
Last year, 135,788 visas were issued to dependants of international students, over nine times the number awarded in 2019.
PM Rishi Sunak told ministers that the action will assist reduce migration.
He informed the cabinet that the adjustment, which would take effect in January 2024, will make a “significant difference in the numbers,” according to No 10.
However, the impact it will have on official migration levels is unclear, since students and family members who come to the UK for less than a year are not counted.
Last week, he said ministers were “considering a range of options” to bring migration down, but refused to say what an acceptable level was.
The Conservatives have previously promised to bring net migration below 100,000 a year, but ditched the target ahead of the 2019 election after repeatedly failing to meet it.
Partners and children of postgraduate students other than those studying on research programmes will no longer be able to apply to live in the UK throughout the course, according to the release.
Last year, 135,788 visas were issued to dependants, up from 54,486 in 2021 and more than seven times the 19,139 awarded in 2020.
These statistics have risen after the introduction of study visa restrictions for European Economic Area (EEA) students following Brexit.
Applications have also increased since laws were altered in 2019 to allow international students to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to hunt for work.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the rise in dependants being granted visas was “unprecedented,” and it was “time for us to tighten up this route to ensure we can cut migration numbers”.
In a statement to Parliament, she added that the move “strikes the right balance” between bringing down migration and “protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK”.
There was a division within government about going further – and possibly banning the dependants of all postgraduate students, including those on research courses.
But some ministers, including Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, argued they were based in the UK longer and provided greater economic benefits.
Source | BBC | ZiMetro News