26 May 2023

In a statement to Parliament and in an attempt to bring down net migration figures, the UK Home Secretary has proposed restrictions to the Student visa route, estimated to come into effect from January 2024. Two key takeaways for international students are:

  1. A restriction on the ability to bring family members to the UK as dependants, only excluding those international students sponsored on post-graduate research courses currently designated as research programmes (research-based PhDs and research-based master’s programmes).
  2. A restriction on the ability to switch from the Student route into a work route (the Skilled Worker route in particular) before the completion of studies.

The Home Secretary will also review the level of funds international students and qualifying dependants will need to demonstrate to be eligible for a Student visa.

The government intends to 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” before the estimated introduction of these restrictions in January 2024.

Employers in particular will need to be mindful of sponsoring international students as Skilled Workers before the completion of their studies from January 2024. Those employers hiring dependants of international students may also need to revisit their recruitment strategies.

We will be providing further commentary as soon as the Home Secretary presents a formal Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules to the Parliament.  

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