On May 23, a new UK visa policy for foreign students’ family members was announced by the government. According to the UK Home Office, international students would no longer be able to bring family members with them starting January 2024.
It also announced that overseas students would be stopped from switching from the student visa route to a work visa until their studies have been completed.
Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, on Wednesday in Abuja said that the UK’s decision banning international students from bringing family members with them starting in 2024 is to control the inflow of migrants and avoid overburdening the country’s housing infrastructure.
He told State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that “Many more students are trying to bring their dependents with them. But it’s not always possible to find the housing and services to meet all the needs of our existing student population. We’ll have to manage our migration in and out of the UK.”
“And second, reasonable people would accept that we have to manage our visitor numbers and we’ll have to manage our migration in and out of the UK just as the Nigerian government would do,” he added.
The envoy also revealed that Nigerian students coming to the UK had increased fivefold in the last three years, even as they make up 10 per cent of those granted UK visas annually.
He said last year, for example, the UK granted three million new visas, of which 325,000 were to Nigerians.
“Nigerian visitors constitute over 10 percent of the people coming to London and the UK.
“It’s a fantastic success story for our universities. And we are really delighted that so many Nigerians are coming to the UK,” he said.
The British High Commissioner disclosed that he discussed the current policy direction of the Bola Tinubu administration with the vice president, which, he said, is being warmly received by UK investors.
“As I discussed with His Excellency, the big economic decisions being taken by this government are really important and are being noticed around the world: the removal of subsidy, the exchange rate reform, all of that create a much better investment environment.
“I was in London last week; I was briefing my ministers, but I was also talking to British business in finance, banking and investment sectors. They are all responding very_ positively to these first decisions.
“We know that there are tough times that are going on at the moment, inflation and unemployment.
“The vice president and I also touched on some of the measures that might be possible to cushion the blow of some of these economic pressures.
“But I think the big issue is that these reforms help put Nigeria on a higher growth path; they will attract more investments and the United Kingdom and the city of London see Nigeria as a big opportunity going forward. I will be doing my part to try to boost those, enhance trade and investment,” he stated.