The United Kingdom has implemented a law that will impact Nigerian students studying in the UK, restricting their ability to bring their families as dependents, unless there are specific circumstances involved.
This new law is part of the UK government's goal to reduce immigration into the country, which currently stands at about 1 million people in the year ending June 2022, which is an increase of 435 000 from the previous year.
The UK will now remove the permission for international students to switch from a student visa to a work visa before completing their studies, aiming to prevent the misuse of the visa system.
This change will take effect in January 2024, allowing students who are starting their courses in the UK time to plan and adapt to the new rules.
The decision to implement these stricter laws follows indications that the UK government plans to take measures to decrease the number of immigrants entering the country through the study route.
In a written statement, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary stated that recent immigration figures had shown an "unexpected rise" in the number of dependents coming to the UK alongside international students.
Braverman also mentioned that the increase occurred after the government committed to lowering net migration.
According to Braverman, while international education plays an important role in supporting the economy, it should not be prioritised over the government's commitment to reduce overall migration.
Braverman further explained, "The package strikes the right balance between acting decisively on tackling net migration and protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK."
According to the Office for National Statistics or ONS, the estimated net migration from June 2021 to June 2022 was over 500,000.
The Home Office emphasised that these new rules are not intended to compromise the government's commitment to reducing overall migration and ensuring that migration to the UK is highly skilled and provides the most benefit.
The proposal aims to allow the government to meet its International Education Strategy commitments while making a tangible contribution to reducing net migration to sustainable levels.
The Home Office also stated, "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."