Foreign students wey dey study for masters degrees no go fit bring dia family members come UK again, under one immigration restriction.
Dem don make di announcement two days before di official statistics dey expected to show say legal migration don hit a record 700,000 dis year.
Last year, UK grant 135,788 visas to dependants of foreign students – almost nine times di figure for 2019.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently tok say legal migration too dey high.
Last week, e say ministers bin dey “consider a range of options” wey go bring migration down, but e no gree put a precise figure on future acceptable levels.
Under di latest announcement, partners and children of graduate students oda dan those wey dey study courses wey be research programmes no go longer dey allowed to apply to live in di UK during di course.
Last year, di 135,788 visas wey dem grant dependants make up more dan a fifth of all sponsored study related visas wey dem grant, compared to 6% for 2019.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman say di rise in dependants wey dem dey grant visas dey “unprecedented,” – e never happun before and “time don reach to tighten up di route to ensure say we fit cut migration numbers”.
Inside statement to Parliament, she add say di move “strike di right balance” between bringing down migration and “protecting di economic benefits wey students fit bring to di UK”.
Di prime minister tell cabinet ministers di change, wey go come into effect for January 2024, go make a “significant difference” to net migration numbers.
Wetin di current student visa entail
At di moment, UK dey allow international students wit a study visa to remain for at least two years afta dia graduation.
Di student visa allow family members to apply for immigration as dependents: a spouse and children under 18.
UK student visa capping
Di UK goment dey consider to introduce restrictions on student visas – specifically to restrict di family visas for international students. Dem dey consider to limit di number of dependants dem go allow to accompany a student.
Dem also plan to shorten di work-visa period from 2 years to as little as 6 months.
Dis go make di option to go study for UK dey less attractive for students compared to di US and Canada.
Tins wey go change for Nigerians wey dey plan to go study for UK
Nigerians wey don “japa” from di kontri on student visas go UK in di past two years don plenty.
Di student visa bin offer golden opportunity for Nigerian students to migrate go di UK wit dia families. For many, na escape route from Nigeria economic wahala, wey include record breaking inflation, plus crippled education system.
Di free education for both primary and secondary school level for di UK mean say most applicants dey further relieved of di burden of paying for dia children education for private schools for Nigeria.
According to Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), for di 2020-21 academic year, 21,305 Nigerian students bin enrol to UK universities. Dis represent almost 64% increase from di 2019-2020 figure.
Dem also say Nigeria get di highest number of dependants, applicants wey dey carry dia family come di UK. 59,053 students bin bring a total of 60,923 relatives.
Dis one mean say Nigerians account for 40% of all dependants wey follow foreign students for di 12 months to June dis year, despite say Nigerian students make up just 7% of all foreign students for dat period.
By comparison, di 114,837 Chinese students wey come UK for 2021 bring only a total of 401 dependants wit dem.
However, dis new restriction on student visa mean say pipo wey dey apply go UK to further dia studies no go fit go wit dia partners and children.
Dis new restriction na for international students apart from postgraduates on research programmes. Dem no go fit bring dia family come di UK from January 2024.
Dis na as di goment dey try to restrict net migration.
Chinese students currently make up di largest group of international students (124,370) for UK universities, followed by students from India (107,270) and Nigerians (34,010).
Students wey dey come UK wit visa go need provide documents to prove dia relationship to dependants, and dem go pay £490 for visa.
Dependants also dey required to pay di immigration health surcharge – one annual contribution between £470 and £624 towards NHS services.
Wia Nigerians dey get di money?
Education for UK no dey cheap.
According to di UK goment government, di financial requirement for applicants wey dey find student visa fit be up to US$14,000, minus tuition.
For a family of three, di costs of complete relocation fit dey as high as US$40,000.
Di Central Bank of Nigeria bin report say Nigerians bin spend US$609.5 million on foreign education between January and August 2022.
Some dey sell dia assets, some dey take loans and some na dia family dey sponsor dia education for UK.
Dependent visa cause schooling and accommodation challenges
Universities UK (UUK), di umbrella group for British universities, say dem recognise say di “substantial” rise in dependant visas don sometimes lead to “local challenges” on top family accommodation and schooling.
“Sake of dat, some targeted measures to check dis rise fit dey reasonable,” Jamie Arrowsmith, di director of UUK international arm tok.
E call on di goment to work wit universities to monitor di effect of di changes, and add say dem dey “likely to get impact on women and students from certain countries”.
According to HESA, one education data group, say 679,970 international students bin dey UK for 2021/2022.
Part of these na 307,470 wey be undergraduates, wey already no fit bring family members come di UK during dia course.
372,500 postgraduates dey, of which 46,350 dey on research courses – plenty of dem dey do dia PhDs, plus one small number of research-based masters degrees.
Di new immigration law bin cause division within di goments for UK.
Some argue say if e dey possible make dem ban all di dependents of all di postgraduate students including those wey dey on research courses (Phd students.)
But some ministers, wey include Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, bin argue say dem go stay longer for UK and dem go provide greater economic benefits.
Di University and College Union (UCU), wey represent university staff, call am “vindictive move” wey don raise “deep concern” within di sector.
Those wey dey follow international students come di UK dey “bring huge value come our society and dem deserve di right to live alongside dia loved ones while dem study,” dia general secretary Jo Grady tok.