The British government has announced visa restrictions that will affect international students and their families as the Conservative government led by Rishi Sunak seeks to curb rising immigration, especially after Brexit.
Between June 2021 and June 2022, the UK saw a record immigration of half a million people, and further figures are expected to be released this week to continue the upward trend.
And while British universities attract thousands of international students each year, the visa restrictions will “significantly reduce” the number of immigrants, “reducing the ability of international students to bring family members with them”, the government said in a statement.
Under the measures, which will start in January, only postgraduate students in research programs, which mean they usually last more than two years, will be able to bring their family members.
Students will not be allowed to obtain a work visa instead of a student visa until they have completed their studies.
The government has vowed to crack down on “unscrupulous agents” who use student visas as a means of immigration.
Authorities issued about 136,000 student visas in 2022, up from 16,000 in 2019, according to official figures.
The move has raised concerns among prestigious universities, which fear losing an important source of income as international students often pay exorbitant tuition fees to enroll.
The Russell Group, which represents academic institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford, said the government’s actions could affect the diversification of international students.
Immigration was at the heart of the campaign that led to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016, but the Conservatives who came to power have failed to overturn legal and illegal immigration.
While the government seeks to reduce immigration, the country has faced labor shortages since Brexit, particularly in the agriculture and health sectors, and Sunak recently acknowledged the need to issue tens of thousands of seasonal visas to compensate for shortages in agriculture. a position that contradicts a point of view. Home Secretary Soyla Braverman told the ultra-conservatives ahead of the conference she saw no reason why “the UK shouldn’t be able to arm itself with superpowered lorry drivers and fruit pickers to reduce immigration”.