Dreams of studying in the UK may come at a heartbreaking cost for international students starting this year. New immigration rules, effective January 1, bar most international students from bringing their families along, effectively severing family ties for the duration of their studies.
Family Ban Sparks Outrage:
Home Secretary James Cleverly ignited controversy by labeling the practice of students bringing families “unreasonable.” This latest restriction, targeting all but postgraduate research students and those on government scholarships, aims to curb migration by tens of thousands, according to Cleverly.
The move aligns with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to reduce net migration, which reached a record high of 606,000 in 2022, with rising student numbers and their dependents playing a significant role, as per Office for National Statistics data.
Graduate Visa Exemption Offers a Glimmer of Hope:
While the new rule casts a shadow over most international students, postgraduate research students and those on government scholarships can still bring their families under the existing Graduate Visa scheme. This allows partners and children to stay for two years after the student completes their studies.
PhD Students and Work Permits Under Scrutiny:
PhD students, whose training typically spans three to five years and aims to produce highly skilled workers, remain exempt from the family ban. However, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is proposing to limit their post-study work permits, questioning the current two-year window for master’s graduates.
Salary Threshold Hike Stalled:
Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s attempt to further tighten the grip on immigration by raising the minimum salary threshold for foreign workers from £26,000 to £33,000 was thwarted by the Treasury.
Focus on Domestic Workforce, with a Seasonal Exception:
Braverman’s vision of training more Brits for jobs like lorry driving and fruit picking instead of relying on immigrant workers seems to be gaining traction. However, Prime Minister Sunak acknowledges the need for seasonal workers in agriculture, announcing an additional 10,000 visas on top of the existing 45,000 allocated to the sector.
Navigating the Shifting Landscape:
The UK’s immigration landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, impacting the lives and dreams of international students. Staying informed about the latest changes and seeking guidance from reliable visa experts like Visa-Applications.org will be crucial for navigating this evolving environment. Remember, while family separation may be a harsh reality for many, exceptions and potential adjustments might offer hope in the future.