• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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UK stops Nigerian students, others from coming over with families

UK stops Nigerian students, others from coming over with families

The United Kingdom (UK) has announced new reforms that will restrict the number of dependant visas for international students from Nigeria and other countries due to an increase in net migration.

This development may affect immigration numbers for Africa’s biggest economy which recorded the highest number of dependants (60,923) of sponsored study visa holders in 2022, increasing from 1,586 in 2019.

According to a statement by the British government on Tuesday, the new reforms will come into effect for students starting in January next year in order to allow future international students time to plan ahead.

“The government will however work with the higher education sector to explore alternative options to ensure the brightest and best students can continue to bring dependents when they study at the UK’s world-leading universities,” it said.

It said to prevent misuse of the visa system, overseas students will be stopped from switching from the student visa route into work routes until their studies have been completed.

“The government will also review the funds students must have to demonstrate they can look after themselves and their dependants in the UK, as well as clamp down on unscrupulous international student agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications.”

Suella Braverman, UK’s home secretary said in the statement that the UK is a top destination for the brightest students to learn at some of the world’s best universities. “But we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of student dependents being brought into the country with visas.”

She added that it is time for the UK to tighten up this route to ensure it can cut migration numbers and meet the government’s pledge to the British people to cut net migration.

“This is the fair thing to do to allow us to better protect our public services, while supporting the economy by allowing the students who contribute the most to keep coming here,” she said.

The proposals announced today do not detract from the success of the government’s International Education Strategy, including meeting the target to host 600,000 international higher education students studying in the UK each year by 2030, for two years running, according to the statement.

Read also: Again, UK plans visa restriction for dependants of Nigerian students, others

Gillian Keegan, UK’s education secretary added that attracting the top students from around the world isn’t just good for their universities.

“It’s essential for our economy and building vital global relationships. But the number of family members being brought to the UK by students has risen significantly,” Keegan said.

“It is right we are taking action to reduce this number while maintaining commitment to our International Education Strategy, which continues to enrich the UK’s education sector and make a significant contribution to the wider economy.”

In 2021, Nigerian students and their dependents contributed an estimated sum of £1.93 billion to the UK in 2021, a recent report by SBM Intelligence said.

A breakdown of the total £1.93 billion shows that the students spent £680.6 million on school fees followed by £408.4 million for rent, £151.3 million for national insurance, £54.4 million for tax of working spouse, £41.8 million for National Health Service (NHS) and £41.7 million for visa fees.

“Apart from school fees paid by Nigerian immigrants to British schools, the UK gains from visa fees, NHS payments, rent, economic productivity, income taxes (in the instances where the students work), etc.,” it said.

Last September, the Telegraph, a national British daily broadsheet newspaper reported that the UK government was considering tightening visa rules on how many relatives migrants can bring into the country.

In January, Braverman pushed for a visa change that would force foreign students out of the country if they don’t get a skilled job six months after graduating.

According to The Daily Mail, she committed to cut immigration and substantially reduce the number of unskilled foreign workers coming to Britain, from 239,000 to the tens of thousands.