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UK to ban foreign students from bringing dependant family over


LONDON: The UK government on Tuesday announced a new immigration crackdown targeted at overseas students, including Indians, and their visa right to bring dependant family members to the country while enrolled at a British institution. In a written statement to the House of Commons, UK home secretary Suella Braverman said only international students on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes will be allowed to bring in their family members, including children and elderly parents, as their dependants. The Indian-origin minister said the new package of measures was necessary after it emerged that around 136,000 visas were granted to dependants of sponsored students in the year ending December 2022 – a more than eight-fold increase from 16,000 in 2019. Removing the ability for international students to switch out of the student route into work routes before their studies have been completed and reviewing the maintenance requirements for students and dependants are listed among the other measures. The minister also pledged steps to clamp down on unscrupulous education agents “who may be supporting inappropriate applications to sell immigration not education”. “The terms of the graduate route remain unchanged… We are committed to attracting the brightest and the best. 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”. “While the vast majority of students will be unaffected, 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. Indians are the highest cohort to access this visa launched in July 2021. As per 2020-21 official data, there were 87,045 Indian first-year enrollments behind China’s 99,965 and ahead of Nigeria‘s 32,945.

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