According to recent reports, the UK government is planning to introduce new immigration proposals that could potentially have a significant impact on students, families, skilled workers, and asylum seekers.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is said to be leading the initiative to tighten current immigration rules and reduce the number of immigrants entering the country. While the details of the proposed changes are not yet clear, it is believed that they will target a range of visa categories, including those for international students and family members of UK residents.
The proposed changes could have significant implications for the UK’s economy, as it relies on skilled workers and international students to fill key roles and contribute to the country’s growth.
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Why is the UK Cutting Immigration
Government officials have stated that reports collected in the last three years indicate that net migration has reached a record high in the UK. In total, 504,000 individuals have entered the country since 2019, with a significant proportion of approximately 476,000 being international students.
Alongside this, the number of foreigners entering the UK as dependents has risen dramatically, with records indicating a jump from 13,666 approved dependent visas in 2019 to 81,089 by the end of June 2022.
The notable increase in immigration has caused concerns among UK ministers, prompting them to explore changes to the current immigration rules. Should the proposed changes be implemented, many foreigners who wish to live in the UK may face stricter restrictions and higher costs.
Current UK Visa Rules
The current regulations allow student visa applicants to bring their spouses and children to the UK as their dependents. However, they must satisfy a financial income requirement per individual and not per family, in addition to the visa application fee, healthcare surcharge, and university expenses.
Similarly, family visa applicants can apply to join a spouse or relative who is already residing in the UK or has obtained British citizenship as their dependent. Once a visa has been granted, and the applicant meets the visa conditions, they can apply to stay in the UK or become a British citizen.
To meet the financial requirements, applicants must show that they can support themselves and their children by fulfilling the minimum income threshold.
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Proposed UK Visa Rules
To reduce the number of Dependent visas being issued, the UK’s Home Secretary has proposed an increase in the minimum income requirement thresholds and a limit on the number of dependents allowed to apply with the main applicant for Student visas. These changes will be applied to all applicants, regardless of nationality or refugee status.
Furthermore, a new ‘Permission to Travel’ scheme is set to be introduced shortly, which will affect anyone seeking to come to the UK, including EU citizens, non-EU citizens, EEA nationals, asylum seekers, and the family members of British citizens.
These new measures were introduced after the UK ended free movement during the Covid-19 pandemic, as a result of Brexit. EU nationals are no longer allowed to move to the UK to live and work, as they can in other EU countries. According to the Home Office, the UK now decides who enters the country based on the skills people have to offer, rather than their country of origin.
Moreover, the UK has recently closed the EU settlement scheme, and the Home Office set a deadline for those who wished to apply for British citizenship or stay in the UK by being granted indefinite leave to remain in 2021.
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How the UK’s Proposed Immigration plans will Impact Families and Students
Numerous sectors are already expressing criticism towards the latest proposals, as they are likely to have a significant impact on applicants, their families, and the UK economy.
The proposed changes would make it difficult for many individuals to reunite with their UK-based family members, as the financial requirement thresholds would be raised. Critics argue that the high cost of relocation, particularly for international students with dependents, means they would need substantial financial resources to apply.
Experts warn that increasing income thresholds could discourage potential students from studying in the UK altogether, putting vulnerable people at risk.
Opponents claim that if implemented, the new measures could have severe consequences for the UK’s education and economic systems. British universities could face new challenges as they lose the contribution of foreign students, which currently amounts to £25.9bn per year.
Critics argue that this loss could be devastating for the UK’s economy and its partnerships for economic development with other countries.
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I’m an asylum seeker will the new plans affect my asylum claim or refugee status?
Foreigners who seek asylum in the UK may face increasing difficulty in being granted their application, and some may need to reconsider their immigration route as the UK government now only promises to help “legal” asylum seekers. Those who arrive illegally now face up to four years in prison and deportation to a safe country.
The Home Office has requested more authority to deport illegal immigrants and their families or children, claiming an alarming increase in illegal migrants seeking modern slavery referrals. The agency argues that the system must be reformed immediately.
Critics, such as the UN Refugee Agency, warned that focusing on those seeking modern slavery referrals could put asylum seekers in danger.
Many migrants and their families are not qualified to receive benefits or housing assistance, leaving them unable to seek help from local authorities or the government to change the immigration status of their loved ones. Experts contend that this goes against the international human right of family reunification.
The new visa procedures will affect applicants from all nations, regardless of their nationality or family connections, including students and families seeking asylum.
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Is the UK imposing tough visa rules on Nigerian students over the influx of family members?
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What is the student immigration policy in the UK?
You can apply for a Student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you: have been offered a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor. have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances. can speak, read, write, and understand English.