January 16, 2024

UK Student Visa: Dependents Restricted, Post-Study Work Visa

The UK government has made adjustments to UK student visa laws that specifically affect overseas students. Notably in terms of their eligibility to bring dependents. Starting on January 1st, 2024, overseas students who are enrolled in the UK will be prohibited from bringing their relatives unless they are doing research for a postgraduate degree. The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, announced in May 2023 a significant decision to eliminate dependent rights for students, except those who are enrolled in specific research postgraduate programs.

Impact on Dependents and  UK Student Visa Switching

UK Student Visa Changes: Dependents' Visas Altered

The Home Office statistics indicate a significant rise in the number of visas issued to dependents of sponsored students, reaching 136,000 in the year ending December 2022. Which is an eightfold increase compared to the 16,000 visas given in 2019. The government’s decision entails the elimination of the opportunity for students to transition from their student visa to a work visa prior to finishing their studies, signifying a significant change in policy.

UK Student Visa Government’s Migration Strategy

UK Student Visa Government's Migration Strategy

These modifications are in accordance with the government’s overarching objective to decrease total migration to the UK. Notwithstanding the increased stringency of rules. The government remains steadfast in its pledge to accommodate 600,000 overseas students per year by 2030. The two-year post-study employment visa remains unaltered, providing a favorable prospect for overseas students upon finishing their studies.

Concerns and Reviews 

The alterations have not been immune to scrutiny. Anne Marie Graham, the Chief Executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, voiced profound dissatisfaction, highlighting the unequal influence on postgraduate taught courses. The government’s declaration of scrutiny into post-study work visas in December 2023 introduces an aspect of unpredictability to the situation, eliciting worry among the educational sector.

Call for Monitoring and Collaboration

Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International, advocates for enhanced transparency in the programs impacted by these modifications. He implores the government to engage in cooperation with the sector to restrict and oversee the consequences. Especially for targeted demographics such as women and students from particular nations. Taking into account the financial strains that institutions are currently experiencing.

Ultimately, these modifications in the UK student visa regulations indicate a significant change. That will have extensive implications for overseas students and their family members. This necessitates ongoing attentiveness and flexibility within the academic community.

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