UK clamps down on visas for dependents of students; how other countries fare

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The United Kingdom has announced that foreign students other than those engaged in research at the postgraduate level will not be allowed to bring dependents to the country from January 2024. Under the earlier rules, all postgraduate foreign students enrolled for courses having duration of at least nine months could bring their spouses and children to the UK.

The UK has claimed that it was introducing restrictions on dependent visas to curb immigration. According to the new rule, a student cannot earn a work visa before completing the course. This is aimed at preventing students from misusing the student visa to obtain work in the UK.

Who should be worried?

Experts said that the UK government’s new decision will not affect students having academic excellence and seeking education of high standards. However, students who join any course in the UK in order to shift to work visa and settle down will no longer find this easy.

By implementing the new plan, UK also wants to ensure that the quality of students arriving in the country is high.

Against the background of the UK’s decision, let us examine the situation in other countries which are popular among foreign students for higher education.


Even though the land area of Canada is thrice that of India its population of 3.82 crore is only slightly more than that of Kerala. As majority of Canadians are senior citizens, the country needs a workforce and does not impose restrictions similar to those in the UK. In fact, immigration is allowed for students who have qualifications from the diploma level. Moreover, on receiving PR (permanent residence) in Canada, foreign students can easily shift to the US.

Another advantage of Canada is relatively low educational expenses. Canada also offers three years’ stay-back for students, which is sufficient time to secure an employment after the course.


With a low population, Australia also needs a workforce and does not impose restrictions on dependent visa for students. However, the country has presently reduced ‘job migration’. Earlier, when a large number of job migrations were allowed, Australia failed to attract people of high quality. In fact, most of the people who arrived in Australia carried fake job experience certificates and joined other professions.

Currently, Australia offers a stay-back of two to six years. However, screening is mandatory in university admissions to ensure academic standards. Educational costs also are high.

New Zealand

A country with population of a mere 50 lakh, New Zealand places no restrictions on dependent visas. Educational expenses and standard of living are similar to the UK’s. Stay-back is two to three years.


Offering a stay-back of two years, Ireland’s educational and living expenses are similar to those in UK.

The United States

Living as well as educational expenses in the United States are comparatively steep. Moreover, there is no stay-back in the US. However, students who excel in their studies have high chances of securing a job under campus placement. As per the US rules, students should find employment by the time they complete their course and obtain a work permit.

Other major countries

Nations such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, Singapore and Sweden offer academic programmes of high standards to foreign students. But, chances for immigration to these countries are low.

In Germany, the stay-back period is one-and-a-half to two years. Command over the German language is mandatory.

Meanwhile, the stay-back in the Netherlands is one year.

Even then, there are ample employment opportunities in all these countries.

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