UK Expected to Limit Dependant Visas for Some International Master’s Students

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As recent reports from the Financial Times and The PIE News have indicated, the United Kingdom’s government is planning to limit certain international master’s students in one-year courses from bringing family into the UK. This is upsetting news for many potential students, for whom the ability to bring dependants is an important consideration in choosing where to study abroad. 

Thankfully, this change is not expected to affect doctoral students. It also won’t affect the graduate visa route, so master’s students who stay to work in the UK may bring family into the country after graduating. 

As of this article being published, this news is only speculative. Keep reading for further details on what is expected from this new ruling. 

Note: As of May 23, the UK government has now officially announced the immigration rights changes. Read the details here.

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Indian and Nigerian Master’s Students Will Be Most Affected 

Based on the information currently available, this change is expected to affect some master’s students taking one-year courses. Affected students would no longer be granted dependant visas, preventing the students’ families from entering the UK.

Over 130,000 student dependant visas were granted in 2022. Indian and Nigerian students, who commonly bring family with them during their studies, are expected to be among the most affected by this change. 

The initiative is said to be supported by the UK education secretary, the Home Office, and the Treasury. This mandate would serve the current government’s goal of reducing overall migration to the United Kingdom. 

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Certain Institutions May Be Excluded 

Other recent reports have speculated that the ban will not be universal. Those studying at approved universities or taking certain courses are expected to be excluded from the ban. 

It is possible that global university rankings such as those issued by Times Higher Education may be used as a benchmark to decide which institutions will be omitted from this new ruling. If so, master’s students attending these top-ranked institutions would still be able to get dependant visas. 

An illustration of the United Kingdom's flag, the Union Jack.

Other Destinations are Set to Benefit

Unfortunately, limiting dependant visas will discourage talent from choosing to study in the UK, and in some cases make it impossible. The change will limit student diversity and have a pronounced adverse effect on higher education in the UK. 

If this policy comes into effect, many international master’s students will be far more likely to choose an alternative study destination where they can easily bring their family, such as Ireland, Canada, or Australia.

At ApplyBoard, we will be watching closely as this news develops to gauge its effect on international students, recruitment partners, and partner institutions in the UK. 


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