UncategorizedUK tightens rules for student visa dependents

Starting 1 January 2024, the UK has implemented significant changes to its overseas student visa dependents. It particularly affects the ability of international students to bring family members as dependents. These changes, first announced in July 2023, are now in effect for those applying for a UK Student visa from this date forward, with specific exceptions for certain postgraduate programmes.

Scope of the new regulations:

The revised rules apply to courses commencing on or after 1 January 2024. The key exclusion to these restrictions is for government-sponsored students enrolled in courses longer than six months and students undertaking full-time postgraduate programmes, such as PhDs or research-based higher degrees.

Impact on existing student visa dependants:

Importantly, these changes do not affect student visa dependents currently in the UK on valid visas. These individuals can still apply for visa extensions, provided the main student visa holder commenced their course before 1 January 2024, and their visa remains active.

For those seeking alternative pathways, transitioning to a work visa category, like the health and care worker or skilled worker visa, could be an option. It is subject to eligibility and meeting specific requirements. However, a noteworthy constraint prohibits parents of student visa holders from switching to a skilled worker visa from a dependant visa.

Deferrals and route switching:

Students who deferred their course starting from September 2023 to January 2024 will see the new rules applied to their dependents. Additionally, when student visa holders transition to the Graduate route, their family members can remain as dependants, but only if they have cohabited in the UK during the student’s course of study. This condition holds true regardless of the course start date.

In contrast, for those switching to the skilled worker route, new applicants for dependent visas must apply from outside the UK to join the main visa holder.

The Home Office’s latest move to tighten the criteria for student dependants underlines a broader strategy to regulate immigration more stringently. These changes will significantly impact the decisions and planning of international students and their families.

Seeking professional guidance is advisable to explore all available options and ensure compliance with the new regulations.

Get in touch:  For a comprehensive understanding of your options or queries on UK immigration matters, reach out to GigaLegal at 02074067654 or click here to book a no-obligation consultation with an immigration expert.