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Again, UK plans visa restriction for dependants of Nigerian students, others - BUSINESSDAY

MAY 22, 2023

The British government may soon limit the number of dependant visas for international students from Nigeria and other countries due to an increase in net migration.

According to the Financial Times (FT), the department of education, home office and treasury are set to finalise plans that prevent masters’ students on one year courses from bringing family members to the United Kingdom (UK).

This development may affect immigration numbers for countries like Nigeria which recorded the highest number of dependants (60,923) of sponsored study visa holders in 2022, increasing from 1,586 in 2019.

“Immigration has become one of the most explosive political issues. Ministers are now finalising plans to tackle one recent boom area for legal migration: the number of dependants who come to Britain with overseas master’s students, often from India and Nigeria,” the FT said.

It said students have been one of the main drivers of the post-coronavirus pandemic surge in migration, with almost 500,000 study visas issued by the UK authorities in 2022 — a rise of 81 percent compared with 2019.

One of the ministers told the British business news organisation that many of the master courses only last for nine months. “We don’t think this will have a big effect on our ability to attract global talent.”

Another minister confirmed the focus was on the dependants of master’s students, saying: “It’s clear we have to do something. We’re a long way from David Cameron’s promise to reduce annual net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’.”

The treasury, which normally favours higher migration, has accepted the political need to restrict the number of dependants of overseas students, while Gillian Keegan, education secretary, has also agreed to the plan.

Last September, the Telegraph, a national British daily broadsheet newspaper reported that the UK government was considering tightening visa rules on how many relatives migrants can bring into the country.

Suella Braverman, UK’s Home Secretary, said there were too many students coming into the UK and needed to be cut down. “There are structural pressures that mass and rapid migration poses to our country.”

In January, Braverman pushed for a visa change that would force foreign students out of the country if they don’t get a skilled job six months after graduating.

According to The Daily Mail, she committed to cut immigration and substantially reduce the number of unskilled foreign workers coming to Britain, from 239,000 to the tens of thousands.


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