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Britain will limit immigration by family members of international pupils

LONDON: On Tuesday, Britain said it would stop letting some foreign students bring family members into the country. This is part of a plan to cut down on annual net migration, which hit a record high last year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to cut down on legal migration, and he said last week that he was looking at a number of ways to lower the number of new arrivals. This is part of what he has said he will do before the election next year.

The Interior Ministry said that the new measures, which target post-graduate students except those in research programs, will help cut migration “substantially” and stop people from using student visas as a secret way to find work in Britain.

Suella Braverman, the minister of the interior, said in a statement that the number of student families coming into the country with visas has grown at a rate that has never been seen before.

“This is the right thing to do because it will help us protect our public services and keep the students who help the economy the most from leaving.

Under the current rules, postgraduate students taking classes that last nine months or longer can bring their partners and children to Britain. However, the government said that the number of dependents had jumped eightfold since 2019 to 136,000 people last year.

The changes will take effect in January, before the annual net migration predictions for 2022 are made public on Thursday. Net migration hit a record high of 504,000 for the year ending in June 2022.

In the middle term, Braverman said, numbers should go back to how they were before the pandemic, but he didn’t give a specific date.

High levels of legal migration and the extra pressure they put on public services that are already suffering have long dominated British politics and were one of the main reasons why people voted to leave the EU in 2016.

The interior ministry also said that foreign students will no longer be able to switch from the student route to the work route before they finish their studies.

It said that 486,000 student cards were given out last year, which was the most of any type of visa.