Cleverly Targets Foreign Students


Revised ONS figures released last month showed net migration ran at a record figure of 745,000 in the year to Dec 2022…reports Asian Lite News

Home Secretary James Cleverly has said the “unreasonable practice” of international students bringing their family to the UK will end as restrictions on visa routes come into force beginning today.

A near-eightfold rise in the number of family members joining foreign students led the government to announce the ban last year for those not studying “high-value” degrees under government plans.

Further, to prevent misuse of the visa system, foreign students will be stopped from switching from the student visa route into work routes until their studies have been completed.

According to an Evening Standard report, Cleverly said the government is delivering on its commitment to the British public by setting out a “tough plan” to cut migration by tens of thousands and prevent people from manipulating the UK immigration system.

“Today, a major part of that plan comes into effect, ending the unreasonable practice of overseas students bringing their family members to the UK. This will see migration falling rapidly by the tens of thousands and contribute to our overall strategy to prevent 300,000 people from coming to the UK,” he said.

Revised Office for National Statistic (ONS) figures released last month showed net migration ran at a record figure of 745,000 in the year to December 2022.

In the year ending September 2023, 152,980 visas were issued to dependants of students.

As per the 2020-21 data, Indians represent the second largest cohort of international students coming to study at UK universities — with 87,045 first-year enrolments behind China’s 99,965 enrolments.

In 2022, the number of Indian students (excluding dependents) who went to the UK for studies was 1,39,539, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Education experts have expressed concern about the measure, saying international students will go to competitor nations if they are discouraged from coming to the UK.

“I don’t celebrate the new changes…,” Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) think tank, told The Standard.

“International students benefit the UK in all sorts of ways. For example, they are vital to maintaining our world-class university sector as their fees cross-subsidise the teaching of home students and also help to fund UK research.

According to estimates, international students add 35 billion pounds a year to the economy. Foreign students and their dependents contributed to the UK economy not just through fees of 10,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds but also via an NHS surcharge of 400 pounds a year for the student and 600 pounds for a dependent, according to the UK-based New Way Consultancy.


Asylum backlog target met, says Sunak


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that he has delivered on his commitment with more than 112,000 asylum cases being processed in the past year and small boat crossing arrivals down by 36 per cent.

In December 2022, Sunak pledged to tackle the remaining legacy asylum backlog — which had more than 92,000 cases of individuals who claimed asylum before 28 June 2022, which were still waiting for an initial decision.

Fundamental changes to the decision-making process and boosting efficiency has resulted in 112,000 asylum decisions this year, and the highest annual number of substantive decisions in a year since 2002, the UK Home Office said in a statement.

“I am determined to end the burden of illegal migration on the British people. That is why we have taken action to stop the boats, return hotels to their local communities, and deter those wanting to come here illegally from doing so,” Sunak said in a statement.

“By clearing the legacy asylum backlog, deciding more than 112,000 cases, we are saving the taxpayer millions of pounds in expensive hotel costs, reducing strain on public services and ensuring the most vulnerable receive the right support,” he added.

The government said it stepped up processing, deploying an additional 1,200 caseworkers, meeting their target to double the number of asylum caseworkers and tripling productivity to ensure more illegal migrants are returned to their country of origin.

All cases in the ‘legacy backlog’ have now been reviewed, with 86,800 decisions made, the Home Office said. In one four-week period from November 20 to December 17, 2023, there were 20,481 initial asylum decisions made, this is more than the number of asylum decisions made in the entirety of 2021.

While all cases have been reviewed and 112,000 decisions made overall, 4,500 complex cases have been highlighted that require additional checks or investigation for a final decision to be made.

According to the Home Office, these “hard cases” typically relate to asylum seekers presenting as children — where age verification is taking place; those with serious medical issues; or those with suspected past convictions, where checks may reveal criminality that would bar asylum.

Ending the ‘legacy’ asylum backlog comes as end-of-year statistics show small boat crossings were down by 36 per cent in 2023. In recent months, crossings have fallen even more sharply — by 45 per cent in the second half of the year and 64 per cent in the final quarter of 2023, against equivalent periods in 2022.

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