Home Secretary action delivering major cut in migration

30 Apr 2024 12:09 PM

Robust Home Secretary action has driven an almost 80% fall in student dependant applications in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

Strong action taken by the Home Secretary to transform the UK’s immigration system and cut unsustainable and unfair levels of migration is delivering, new data published today shows. 

The number of dependants accompanying students to the UK has drastically fallen by almost 80%, with more than 26,000 fewer student visa applications made from January to March 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. 

Government measures to tighten student visas, which came into force in January, have prevented most international students starting courses this year from bringing family members. Students can also no longer switch their visa before completing their course, preventing people from using the route as a backdoor to work in the UK, while clamping down on institutions which undermine the UK’s reputation by selling immigration not education.

The government recognises the importance of attracting the brightest and best, whilst delivering on our commitment to reduce legal migration to sustainable levels, with the data published.

Home Secretary, James Cleverly, said:  

Ever-spiralling numbers were eroding the British people’s confidence in our immigration system, burdening public services and supressing wages. 

When I promised to deliver the largest-ever cut in legal migration, I knew we must also work to show the impact of our action as soon as practically possible.  

This data shows a significant fall in numbers on the first of our measures to take effect whilst underlining why necessary action was taken to cut unsustainable numbers of care worker dependants.

This does not mark the end of the road in our plan to cut migration, there is more still to come. Over the coming months, we will continue to show the pace of our progress as we deliver the control the public rightly expect.

The published figures also reveal that in the first quarter of 2024, dependant applications on the Health and Care visa continued to significantly outnumber main applicants. 

The government has been consistently clear that dependant visa numbers have been both disproportionate and unsustainable, which is why decisive action was taken to restrict care workers from bringing dependants. This measure came into effect on 11 March, meaning its impact will be fully shown in future statistics. Doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals remain able to bring dependants. 

In parallel, care providers acting as sponsors for migrants in England are now required to register with the industry regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), to crack down on worker exploitation and abuse within the sector.   

There is clear evidence that care workers have been offered visas under false pretences, recruited into non-existent jobs or paid far below the minimum wage required for their work, exploiting them while undercutting British workers. 

Immigration is not the long-term answer to social care needs, and the Department for Health and Social Care is leading a programme of work to grow and support the domestic social care workforce. This includes better training, clearer career paths and improved job prospects through a new accredited qualification. 

The new data also includes the final data before the general salary threshold for those arriving on the Skilled Worker visa rose from £26,200 to £38,700, meaning the impact of this measure will also be revealed in future statistics releases. 

Taken together, the Home Secretary’s package to reduce legal migration will mean approximately 300,000 people arriving in the UK last year would no longer be able to. It also includes:  

Delivery of this comprehensive series of measures comes as the government cracks down on rising migration, both legal and illegal, and reforms the immigration system. The plan is working, with small boats crossings down by around a third last year, and work continuing to tackle this global challenge including working with international partners and clamping down on the criminal gangs with stepped-up enforcement. 

Now that the Safety of Rwanda Act has passed and the Treaty with Rwanda has been ratified, the government is entering the final phase of operationalising this landmark policy, with the first flight set to take off to Rwanda in 9 to 11 weeks.