UK mulls immigration curbs on foreign student families


London: International students are likely to be restricted from bringing their spouses and children to the UK unless they study “high-value” degrees under government plans.

According to The Times, foreign students granted visas to study science, mathematics, and engineering can relocate to the UK with dependants.

A near-eightfold rise in the number of family members joining foreign students has left Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman worried.

According to new immigration figures, 490,763 students were given visas last year.

They were accompanied by 135,788 dependants — spouses and children — up from 16,047 in 2019.

Of these, India became the largest source of students with 161,000 students, including 33,240 dependents, coming to the UK last year.

Asylum backlog hit a record high, with more than 160,000 migrants waiting for decisions on their applications, the report said.

The government is yet to make a final decision on the contentious matter.

Braverman has drawn up proposals to reduce the number, which includes shortening the duration foreign students can stay in Britain post their course.

However, according to the Department of Education, the restrictions will bankrupt UK universities, which depend on foreign students for money.

According to estimates, international students add 35 billion pounds a year to the economy.

According to UK-based New Way Consultancy, foreign students and their dependents contributed to the UK economy not just through fees of 10,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds but also via an NHS surcharge of 400 pounds a year for the student and 600 pounds for a dependent.

It warned that curbs on graduate work visas will force Indian students to shift to countries like Australia and Canada, ultimately leading to the end of the student market in the UK.

More than 45,000 people crossed the Channel to the UK in small boats over the past year, according to government figures, with 90 crossing on Christmas Day alone.

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( With inputs from )

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