• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Nigeria sees biggest decline in UK student visas on dependent restrictions

Nigeria sees biggest decline in UK student visas on dependent restrictions

Out of five countries with the highest number of sponsored study visa holders also known as student visas granted by the United Kingdom, Nigeria recorded the biggest decline within a year, a BusinessDay analysis of the new official immigration data shows.

The data from the British government on Thursday showed that from March 2023 to the same period of this year, the number of applicants from Africa’s most populous nation fell by 38 percent.

“Most of the increase in main applicants between 2019 and 2023 were from Indian and Nigerian nationals, but numbers for these nationalities have fallen in the latest year (by 16 percent and 38 percent respectively),” the British government said in its immigration website.

It said policy changes are one of a number of factors that may have impacted visa application volumes and that it will be necessary to await the peak in student applications for the next academic year (which usually comes in August/September) before they can see the full effect of recent policy changes and any other impacts.

“There were 116,455 sponsored study visa grants to main applicants that are Indian nationals in the year ending March 2024, (26 percent of the total), 21,717 fewer than the previous year.”

Read also: Australia updates student visa process, new requirements and opportunities

According to the government, the majority (94,149, or 81 percent) of Indian students come to the UK to study at master’s level and the recent decrease in Indian students was driven by 21,800 fewer Indian nationals coming to study at master’s level.

“Chinese nationals are the second most common nationality granted sponsored study visas (108,582), accounting for 24 percent of the total, with the majority (63,027, 58 percent) also studying at master’s level.”

Last May, the British government announced reforms restricting the number of dependent visas for international students due to an increase in net migration. The reforms took effect in January 2024.

“Following a recent policy change, for courses starting on or after January 1, 2024, only research-based postgraduate students are now allowed to bring dependants (partners and children) to the UK,” it said.

Apart from dependents of students’ visas, the country announced a plan last December to slash migration levels and curb abuse of the immigration system, delivering the biggest-ever reduction in net migration.

“It is clear that net migration remains far too high. By leaving the European Union we gained control over who can come to the UK, but far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services are put under less strain,” James Cleverly, UK’s home secretary said in a statement.

He added that the plan will deliver the biggest-ever reduction in net migration and will mean around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would not have been able to do so.

“I am taking decisive action to halt the drastic rise in our work visa routes and crack down on those who seek to take advantage of our hospitality.”