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UK government considering dependant limit

The UK government continues to consider limiting dependant visas as the number of students who brought family members to the country with them increased by almost 30% in 2022.

Students can currently bring family members if they are studying at postgraduate level. Photo: iStock.

Nigerian students had 60,923 dependants in 2022

British newspaper The Times reported that foreign students could be barred from bringing their spouses and children to the UK unless they study “high-value” degrees, as the government continues to debate policy changes. 

According to the newspaper, students will only be able to bring family members if they are studying courses that ministers consider to be of high value to the economy, such as science, maths and engineering. 

Currently, students who are studying at postgraduate level can bring family members, no matter which course they are enrolled on. 

A spokesperson from the Home Office declined to confirm the reports, telling The PIE that all immigration policies are “under constant review to ensure they best serve the country and reflect the public’s priorities.

“Our points-based system is designed to be flexible according to the UK’s needs – including attracting top class talent from across the world to contribute to the UK’s excellent academic reputation and to help keep our universities competitive on the world stage,” the spokesperson said. 

Last year, 22% (135,788) of all study related visas were granted to dependants of students , compared to 6% (16,047) in 2019. In its data release, the Home Office wrote this may “reflect a change in the composition of students” coming to the UK, such as a greater number of older students. 

Nigerian students had the highest number of dependants in 2022, increasing to 60,923 from 1,586 in 2019, while Indian nationals had the second highest at 38,990. There were almost 120,000 dependant visas granted to the top 5 nationalities (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) in 2022.

Jeff Williams, CEO and co-founder of student onboarding platform Enroly, previously told The PIE that this rise was to be expected given the increasing popularity of postgraduate courses. 

While the international education sector has previously spoken out against limiting dependant visas, some have expressed concerns around supporting students with family members when it comes to finding housing and schools. 

A formal announcement from the UK government on international student policy updates is expected imminently. 

Opposition party MPs have also spoken out against changes to policy surrounding foreign students.

Wes Streeting, shadow health and social care secretary in the Labour Party, said in a parliamentary debate at the end of February that he hoped UK home secretary Suella Braverman “does not win” the arguments around international students.

Streeting said having international students at British universities is “a wonderful thing”.

“It is wonderful for British students who mix with cohorts drawn from across the world, and it is wonderful because they contribute to the cultural and intellectual life of our universities, and of the towns and cities in which they live while studying here,” Streeting said.

“It is a wonderful thing because they often return to their countries with fond memories of Britain, which is an extension of our soft power and diplomatic influence.”

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8 Responses to UK government considering dependant limit

  1. There is a very high number of Nigerian students where I live in Aberdeen I often speak to them because I’m genuinely interested on what days young people are studying but not one of them as yet told me mi-pay will stay in the UK to use they’re experience after getting their degree every one of them says they will return to their country

  2. I don’t think there is anything wrong with students bringing dependants along with them, this is because International students pass through a lot of emotional trauma when they are alone trying to adjust to the new environment. With the help of their dependents increase their stability in the country.

  3. United Kingdom is the most beautiful place to study, i love this country. The most important problem students and their dependents face is the issue of accommodation, especially those with Kids, Landlords had made life unbearable and uncomfortable for students with kids with the restrictions of “No children allowed” for renting an accommodation, children are gifts from God so why these barriers? Not to mention the high rise in payments of house rent. I appeal that the Government should also look into this problem.

  4. Bringing dependent is a Emotional and mental support for international students and that help them to stay back here and 40% people go back to home country because they don’t find jobs which is right to them and not able to meet the expenses due to tax reduction.

  5. I think should more visas to student and their families, surely newcomers.benefiting country economy by paying more taxes and creating more jobs for local peoples. British government is always more generous for grant more family and dependents visAs for reunited families with their loves ones.

  6. I’m expecting to start up my higher studies from a chosen university in UK. But as an Asian, I need I just can’t leave my 02 years baby at my home country. So I need my husband & baby to be with me while I’m studying. As well as I do need to return my home country, I have my reputation, values & relationships are there with my professional field.
    It ‘s so sad, UK comes up with this new rules, considering only UK’s internal factors

  7. If they do this they will be a lot of broken homes due to the distance. How will they expect me to be in the UK and my husband is another country how will I cope ? I need physical , emotional, psychological support from my husband . I plead on behalf of Nigerians please tender this with mercy.

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