UK’s new visa rule puts Indian students in jeopardy. Check 4 key policy changes

Indians are the highest cohort to access this visa launched in July 2021. As per official data for 2020-21, there were 87,045 Indian first-year enrolments behind China’s 99,965 and ahead of Nigeria’s 32,945.

Edited By Sanchari Ghosh
Updated26 May 2023
Suella Braverman, UK home secretary, arrives for a weekly meeting of cabinet ministers at 10 Downing Street in London
Suella Braverman, UK home secretary, arrives for a weekly meeting of cabinet ministers at 10 Downing Street in London(Bloomberg)

The UK government on Tuesday announced a new immigration crackdown aimed at overseas students, including those from India, regarding their visa rights to bring dependant family members to the country while studying at a British institution. 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman stated that only international students on postgraduate courses designated as research programs will be allowed to bring their family members, such as children and elderly parents, as dependants. Apart from that, the new law also removed the ability for international students to switch to work visa before finishing their courses.

 This decision comes in response to a significant rise in the number of visas granted to dependants of sponsored students, increasing from 16,000 in 2019 to 136,000 by the end of 2022. Here are the key updates.  

International students barred from bringing dependants

“This package includes: removing the right for international students to bring dependants unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes,” Braverman’s statement notes.

No switching from student to work route

The new measures also put a curb on international students switching out of the student route into work routes before their studies have been completed. 

Clamp down on unscrupulous education agents

She also pledged steps to clamp down on unscrupulous education agents “who may be supporting inappropriate applications to sell immigration not education”.

Terms of the graduate route remain unchanged

“The terms of the graduate route remain unchanged... We are committed to attracting the brightest and the best to the UK. Therefore, our intention is to work with universities over the course of the next year to design an alternative approach that ensures that the best and the brightest students can bring dependants to our world-leading universities while continuing to reduce net migration,” she said.

The new curbs are expected to be enforced “as soon as possible”, after consultation with the educational sector and key stakeholders.

How is it going to affect the Indian students in the UK?

“While the vast majority of students will be unaffected by proposals that limit the ability to be accompanied by dependants, more information is needed on the programmes that are in scope before a proper assessment of the impact can be made,” said Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International (UUKi) – the representative body for 140 UK universities.

“Yet we do know that any changes are likely to have a disproportionate impact on women and students from certain countries. We, therefore, urge the government to work with the sector to limit and monitor the impact on particular groups of students – and on universities, which are already under serious financial pressures,” he said.

 It is to be noted here, Indians are the highest cohort to access this visa launched in July 2021. As per official data for 2020-21, there were 87,045 Indian first-year enrolments behind China’s 99,965 and ahead of Nigeria’s 32,945.

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