Recent Student Visa Changes in the UK

Important UKVI update on student Route dependent: (No more dependent visas from January 24 Intake onwards, with exceptions for research-focused postgraduate programs (RQF level 8). Apply now for the September 2023 intake. 


From January 2024, the UK government will impose restrictions on the dependents of international students. 

The UK government disclosed new rules related to student visas and access to the EU Settlement Scheme, as well as modifications to the Shortage Occupation List, in an update outlining amendments. These modifications are intended to regulate and improve the immigration system in order to address current requirements and priorities.

The British government has detailed a regulation change intended to limit the use of student visas to find work in the UK. International students, with the exception of those undertaking postgraduate research studies, will face restrictions beginning in January 2024, limiting their ability to bring family members to the UK. These rules are intended to keep people from using student visas as a backdoor way to work in this country.

The following adjustments have been made to the student route as a result of the statement of changes:

From January 1, 2024, international students will no longer have the right to bring their dependent family members, except for those enrolled in postgraduate research programs. Students starting classes in the autumn of 2023, on the other hand, will be unaffected by this change.

International students will lose their opportunity to transition from the student path to the job route before finishing their studies. This change will impact all international students as of July 17, 2023, departing from the usual convention of a 21-day grace period for changes to the Immigration Rules.

You can also read: How Studying Abroad after +2 Improves Career Prospects


These changes are intended to limit the increase in applications for dependents and transition to employment routes. International students may bring dependents only if they are government-sponsored or studying PhD, doctorate, or research-based higher degree courses beginning January 1, 2024. Existing dependents in the UK may still be entitled to extend their leave.

While students undertaking degree-level or above courses may still apply for work before completing their studies, the employment start date must not be earlier than the course completion date. The Skilled Worker option will be the most typical route for switching. Employers can issue Certificates of Sponsorship up to three months before the intended start date in the UK, allowing applicants to apply at that time.

After 24 months of study, Ph.D. students will be eligible to switch to other routes. The adjustments are intended to streamline the student path and preserve a balance of study and work possibilities for international students in the UK.

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is a programme that allows citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland who were living in the UK at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, along with their family members, to obtain the necessary UK immigration status to remain in the country.

The Surinder Singh and Zambrano routes were previously available under the EUSS and EU Family Permit (EUFP) and allowed qualifying British citizens' family members or primary carers to secure residence rights in the UK upon returning to the UK after exercising free movement rights in the EEA. These routes will no longer accept new proposals after August 8, 2023. People with existing status, ongoing petitions, or under appeal can still use these procedures.


You can also read: 7 Key Benefits of Pursuing an MBA Course in the UK


British nationals who previously used these procedures to sponsor foreign national family members or primary caregivers must now follow the Family Immigration Rules that apply to all others. These rules may have more strict compliance requirements.

Furthermore, the EUSS statement of modifications permits persons with pre-settled status to have their leave extended without having to submit a legitimate application. Making an EUSS application, on the other hand, is required to collect evidence of such status, which is required to verify their eligibility to work in the UK.

Persons having pre-settled status under the EUSS will have their status automatically extended by two years if they have not attained settled status by that time. Failure to meet the deadline for submitting an EUSS application or having reasonable grounds for failing to do so will be considered a validity ground rather than an eligibility ground, and this determination will be made before a Certificate of Application is provided.

Furthermore, recent changes to the EUSS prohibit illegal entrants from submitting a valid application as a joining family member. The category of dependent relations has also been enlarged to include "the child of a durable partner, where the child has turned 18 since they were granted pre-settled status under the EUSS."

The UK Government's Proposed Student Visa Changes: A Balancing Act

As the UK government pushes forward with proposed changes to student visa restrictions, it is facing criticism from a variety of sources. The authorities, on the other hand, explain these reforms as necessary in order to find a balance between reducing net migration and maintaining the country's economy, notably its prominent educational institutions.

Recognising the higher education sector's concerns, the government is actively investigating alternative ways to ensure that high-achieving students can continue to bring their dependents while studying at the UK's best universities.


The proposed revisions represent a substantial shift in the government's policy towards international student migration. Their implementation, due in January 2024, has the potential to have far-reaching consequences for overseas students, universities, and the UK economy as a whole. As the deadline approaches, the finalisation and eventual impact of these modifications will be closely monitored and scrutinised. The next few months will reveal how these changes are implemented and how they affect the UK's standing as a destination for international students and scholars.

Image by Freepik