Braverman announces new limits on overseas students bringing family to UK

Suella Braverman has rushed out fresh curbs on international students who come to study in the UK amid growing pressure on the home secretary over her conduct in office.

Under proposals released in parliament on Tuesday, overseas students will no longer be able to bring family with them except under specific circumstances as the government seeks to reduce immigration numbers.

Only overseas students on courses designated as research programmes will be able to bring dependants with them under new rules to curb net migration.

It comes as Braverman, who is committed to reducing immigration to “tens of thousands”, braces herself for figures released on Thursday that will show net migration to the UK is more than 700,000.

The policy was released in a written ministerial statement on Tuesday as the government answered an urgent question on whether Braverman told officials to organise a private speed-awareness course in breach of the ministerial code.

Under the proposals, the government will remove the ability for international students to switch out of the student route and into work routes before their studies have been completed.

As well as removing this right, there will also be a review of the maintenance requirement for students and dependants, and a crackdown on “unscrupulous” education providers “who make use of inappropriate applications to sell immigration, not education”.

Braverman wrote: “The immigration statistics also highlighted an unexpected rise in the number of dependants coming to the UK alongside international students. About 136,000 visas were granted to dependants of sponsored students in the year ending December 2022, a more than eightfold increase from 16,000 in 2019, when the government’s commitment to lower net migration was made.”

The changes will come into effect for students starting their courses from January 2024 in order to allow future international students time to plan ahead.

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Official statistics due to be published later this week are expected to show that net migration increased from 504,000 in the 12 months to June 2022 to more than 700,000 in the year to December.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister reiterated his commitment to getting the numbers down and said the statistics showed a recent rise in the number of dependants coming to the UK alongside international students. About 136,000 visas were granted to dependants in 2022 – an eightfold increase from 2019.”

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