The UK Government has taken decisive action on student visas, implementing strict measures that will have a significant impact on international students. As of 01 January 2024, most students will no longer be able to bring their family members to the UK.
These restrictions, which were enforced by the Home Office, are part of the government’s ongoing efforts to reduce migration. The move aims to prioritize the needs and resources of the country while ensuring that student visa routes are closely regulated.
From 01 January 2024 onwards, if you have dependents, such as a partner or children, they may have the opportunity to join you in the UK or extend their stay there. You’re eligible for this if you fall into one of the following categories: you’re a government-sponsored student beginning a course lasting over 6 months or a full-time postgraduate student enrolled in a program at level 7 or higher on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) that spans 9 months or more. Postgraduate courses starting from January 1, 2024 must either be a doctorate (RQF level 8) or a research-oriented higher degree.
It is important for students and their dependents to be aware of these changes and plan accordingly. The government’s tough stance on immigration underscores its commitment to managing and controlling migrant flows in a responsible manner.
In December, the Home Secretary introduced measures to lower legal migration sustainably. These include ending the misuse of health and care visas, raising skilled worker salary thresholds by nearly 50%, and tightening regulations on overseas labour. The minimum income requirement for British sponsors will also increase, and the Graduate route will be reviewed. These changes could prevent around 300,000 entries into the UK, constituting the largest reduction ever. It’s a tough but gradual approach, allowing time for preparation, set to roll out through early 2024.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the net migration figure was 672,000 between June 2022 and June 2023. During the year ending September 2023, 152,980 visas were granted to students’ dependants, indicating a substantial increase of over 930% from the 14,839 visas issued during the corresponding period ending September 2019.
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Frequently asked questions
The Graduate Route criteria remain unchanged. If your dependents weren’t in the UK during your study period, they won’t qualify to apply as dependants of a Graduate Route visa holder.
International students are permitted to work 20 hours per week during term time and have unrestricted work hours during official vacation periods. There are no anticipated alterations to this regulation.