From the blog

UK: New Student Visa Reform Made Official

Foreign postgraduate students on non-research courses visa will no longer be able to bring family members with them to the UK, under new immigration curbs.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told ministers the move would help bring migration down. He told the cabinet that the change, to begin in January 2024, will make a “significant difference to the numbers,” according to No 10.

However, the impact it will have on official migration levels is unclear, since students and family members who come to the UK for less than a year are not counted.

Under the announcement, partners and children of postgraduate students other than those studying on courses designated as research programmes will no longer be allowed to apply to live in the UK during the course.

There were 135,788 visas granted to dependants last year, a rise from 54,486 in 2021, and more than seven times the 19,139 granted in 2020.

These figures have increased since study visa requirements for European Economic Area (EEA) students were introduced after Brexit.

Applications have also risen since rules were changed in 2019 to allow foreign students to stay in the UK for two years after graduating to look for jobs.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the rise in dependants being granted visas was “unprecedented,” and it was “time for us to tighten up this route to ensure we can cut migration numbers”.

In a statement to Parliament, she added that the move “strikes the right balance” between bringing down migration and “protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK”.

There was a division within government about going further – and possibly banning the dependants of all postgraduate students, including those on research courses.

But some ministers, including Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, argued they were based in the UK longer and provided greater economic benefits.

A Nigerian YouTube content provider on Nigerians on studying in the UK says some are not looking for new qualifications, but to start a new life abroad. Emdee Tiamiyu promotes himself to thousands of subscribers as YouTube’s number one guide to “scholarships, fellowships and japa-ships”.

That last word, japa, is the Yoruba term for “to leave”, he explains. It is a buzzword among Nigerians eager to escape their country’s problems with corruption and poor governance.

“People are looking for alternatives,” he says. “They want to escape Nigeria.”

“The student route is more like an answered prayer,” he says. It is a “big bracket that’s able to take a lot of people, the ordinary people”.

A fifth of UK student visas last year went to Nigerians – 120,000 in total, with half for the students themselves and half for partners and children. Nigerians had more family visas for foreign students than any other nationality.