Student Visa Dependant Applications Fall by 80% Due to Tighter Rules

| May 2, 2024
Student Visa Dependant Applications Fall by 80% Due to Tighter Rules

New data from the British government showed that stricter rules for dependants of student visas have lowered net migration.

In the first quarter of 2024, the number of student visas issued dropped to 40,700 from 72,800 last year. 

Student visa dependant applications have also drastically fallen by almost 80 percent, from 32,900 in 2023 to 6,700 in 2024.

This represents a decline of 26,200 student visa applications from January to March 2024 compared to the same period.

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly said it “shows a significant fall in numbers on the first of our measures to take effect.”

“When I promised to deliver the largest-ever cut in legal migration, I knew we must also work to show the impact of our action as soon as practically possible,” he said in a statement.

The United Kingdom (UK) government’s measures to tighten student visas came into force on 1 January 2024.

Only students enrolled in postgraduate research courses and courses with government-funded scholarships are allowed to bring dependents to the UK.

Students can no longer switch to work visas before completing their course. This prevents using it as a backdoor to working in the UK.

The new regulations aim to prevent institutions from selling immigration instead of education, which damages the UK’s reputation.

Cleverly added that there is more to the UK’s plan to cut net migration. The government will continue to “show the pace of our progress.”

Dependant applicants on health and care visa route

The Home Secretary highlighted the need to reduce the unsustainable number of dependents on health and care workers.

The 2024 first quarter data revealed that dependent visa applications on the health and care route still significantly outnumber main applicants.

This follows the prohibition on health and care workers’ bringing their families to the UK starting 11 March 2024.

Doctors, nurses, and other allied health professionals remain able to bring dependents.

However, the government is optimistic that the new legislation’s full effect will be reflected in future statistics.

The UK government has been consistently clear that dependent visa numbers have been both disproportionate and unsustainable.

Additionally, care firms in England sponsoring health and care workers must now register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

CQC can now take action against exploitation and abuse in the industry.

It can stop recruiting care workers under false pretenses, place them in non-existent jobs, and pay them below the minimum wage.

“Immigration is not the long-term answer to social care needs,” the UK government stated.

The UK Department for Health and Social Care is leading a program to support the domestic social care workforce.

This includes better training, clearer career paths, and improved job prospects through a new accredited qualification.

Other measures to cut net migration

In addition to the changes to students and health and care visas, the UK government is implementing several new rules.

The general salary threshold for skilled workers was raised from £26,200 to £38,700 starting 4 April 2024.

The Immigration Salary List (ISL) replaced the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), limiting the number of jobs that offer a 20 percent discount.

It also means employers can no longer pay migrants less than UK workers in occupations facing shortages.

On 11 April, the family visa’s minimum income requirement (MIR) was increased from £18,600 to £29,000.

By early 2025, the family visa MIR will be the same as those of skilled workers at £38,700.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is reviewing the Graduate visa route to ensure it serves its purpose and is not abused.

These net migration package reductions will mean approximately 300,000 migrants might be unable to come to the UK.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2022 data, the UK’s net migration is 672,000.

The figures are up from last year’s 607,000 but lower than the estimated 745,000 for the year ending December 2022.

In his December 2023 speech announcing the changes, Cleverly said the UK’s net migration was too high, straining public services.

The Office for National Statistics predicts the UK population will grow by 6.6 million between 2021 and 2036.

It explained that the faster growth is mainly due to international migration.