The United Kingdom (UK) government on Tuesday, May 23, announced four new visa restrictions for people willing to join academic institutions.
UK, which withdrew from the European Union (EU) in 2020, noted that many immigrants were using the student visa application process as a loophole to look for greener pastures.
Manipulation of the student visa system had seen a net migration of over 500,000 from June 2021 to June 2022 according to UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).
According to a report by the British Council, over 6,000 Kenyans were studying in various UK universities in 2022 with an increasing number forecast to be applying in subsequent years.
The new rules will see fewer Kenyans being accepted to further their studies in the UK as well as have their families tag along.
“The government restrictions to student visa routes will substantially cut net migration by restricting the ability for international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes and banning people from using a student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK,” the government stated.
Changing visa routes
The UK found out that the majority of people were applying for student visas and once they arrived in the country, they changed that to a work visa.
According to the new restrictions, it will be impossible for Kenyans applying for student visas to change it once they travel there.
“To prevent misuse of the visa system, overseas students will be stopped from switching from the student visa route into work routes until their studies have been completed,” the government decided.
Since it is easier to get a student visa, most Kenyans apply it a path towards greener pastures.
They apply knowing well that they cannot afford the school fees charged and that once they get to the UK, they instead look for employment.
“The government will review the funds the student has to demonstrate they can look after themselves and their dependants in the UK,” the new restriction read in part.
It was found that there was a surge in the number of unscrupulous travel agents who were charging students a lot of money with the promise of opportunities in the UK.
“We clamp down on unscrupulous international student agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications,” the UK government resolved.
Once Kenyans and other nationalities travel to the UK on a student visa, they use that as an opportunity to bring over their relatives.
According to the new restrictions, that would be almost impossible starting January 2024.
“We have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of student dependents being brought into the country with visas.
“It is time for us to tighten up this route to ensure we can cut migration numbers to allow us to better protect our public services,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman stated.