UK bans Nigerian students, others from bringing family members as dependents
Story from Vivian DANIEL, Abuja
The United Kingdom has put in place a law prohibiting Nigerian students and others studying in the UK from bringing their family as dependants except under specific circumstances.
This is as the UK Government aims to bring immigration into the country which stands at about 1 million down.
Under the new rule, the UK will withdraw the permission for international students to switch out of the student route and into work routes before their studies have been completed to prevent abuse of the visa system.
According to Sky News, “There will also be a review of the maintenance requirement for students and dependents and a crackdown on “unscrupulous” education agents “who make use of inappropriate applications to sell immigration, not education”.
READ ALSO: UK To Impose Stricter Immigration Rules: Foreign students banned from bringing family
This change takes effect from January 2024 to allow students starting courses in the UK ample time to plan to adapt to the new rules.
The new law comes after indications had emerged that the UK plans to put stricter laws in place to bring down the climbing number of immigrants into the country via studies.
In a written ministerial statement on Tuesday, Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said recent immigration figures had shown an “unexpected rise” in the number of dependants coming to the UK alongside international students.
According to Braverman, the increase was made after the government made its commitment to lower net migration, the UK media house reported.
Braverman said while the government’s strategy around international education “plays an important part in supporting the economy”, it should “not be at the expense of our commitment to the public to lower overall migration”.
Braverman further said the package strikes the right balance between acting decisively on tackling net migration and protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK.
A statement on the UK’s Home Office official site adds that the “New government restrictions to student visa routes will substantially cut net migration by restricting the ability for international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes and banning people from using a student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK.”
“The ONS estimated that net migration was over 500,000 from June 2021 to June 2022. Although partly attributed to the rise in temporary factors, such as the UK’s Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes, last year almost half a million student visas were issued while the number of dependants of overseas students has increased by 750% since 2019, to 136,000 people.”
The Home Office also noted that this new rule is not at the expense of the government’s commitment to the public to lower overall migration and ensure that migration to the UK is highly skilled and provides the most benefit.
According to the HO, the proposal is aimed at allowing “the government to continue to meet its International Education Strategy commitments while making a tangible contribution to reducing net migration to sustainable levels. The government has also made clear that the terms of the graduate route remain unchanged.”
The Home Office also reiterated that “the proposals announced do not detract from the success of the government’s International Education Strategy, including meeting the target to host 600,000 international higher education students studying in the UK each year by 2030, for two years running.”
Official statistics, as reported by Sky News are due to be published this week and are expected to show that net migration has increased from 504,000 in the 12 months to June 2022 to more than 700,000 in the year to December.
According to data, foreign students brought 135,788 family members to Britain last year – nine times more than in 2019 while in 2022, 59,053 Nigerian students brought over 60,923 relatives.
It could be recalled that in search of better education and quality of life, a total of 128,770 Nigerian students enrolled in universities in the United Kingdom between 2015 to the end of 2022 and this is according to the analysis of the data obtained from the Higher Education Statistics Agency of the UK.