Migrants from Nigeria may face a clampdown under Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s plans to cut net migration as it emerged that citizens from the west African country are bringing the highest number of relatives to the UK.
Nigerians accounted for 40% of all dependents who accompanied foreign students in the 12 months to June – despite Nigerian students making up just 7% of all foreign students in that period, according to Home Office figures.
Some 34,000 Nigerians were given study visas in the UK, bringing with them a total of 31,898 dependents. A similar ratio was recorded for work visas, with 8,972 Nigerians issued with one in the 12 months to June bringing with them 8,576 dependants.
By comparison, 114,837 Chinese students who came to the UK last year brought with them a total of 401 dependants – while 93,049 Indian students came to Britain with 24,916 dependants, the figures show.
MailOnline has contacted the Home Office for further information about the numbers.
Miss Braverman and Cabinet Office minister Nadhim Zahawi are considering imposing a cap on the number of children that foreign students can bring in a bid to cut unskilled migration.
However, the Home Secretary’s moves appear to have split the Cabinet and seem to be at odds with public opinion – with a survey carried out by Ipsos Mori finding that only 29% of Conservative voters support a reduction in student immigration.
The polling also found that the public remains divided over the Government’s controversial policy to send migrants to Rwanda, with 21% strongly opposed and 21% strongly supportive.
Dependants can work without the same level of criteria that other migrants must meet.
In August it emerged that Nigerian students have become the third largest foreign student group in the UK, following in the footsteps of India and China – after a seismic 686% increase since before the pandemic.
Home Office figures reveal 65,929 Nigerian nationals were granted a sponsored study visa in the year ending June 2022 – a rise of 57,545 (686% ) compared to 2019, when 8,384 were given.
Home Office figures reveal 65,929 Nigerian nationals were granted a sponsored study visa in the year ending to June 2022. This is a rise of 57,545 (686%) compared to 2019
Overall, international student numbers have risen by 71% over that period, with 486,868 student visas granted to main applicants and their dependents in the year up to June – 202,147 more than 2019.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘[This] is the highest on record in our time series, with the substantial increase representing both a recovery from lower numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic but also an increase on the pre-pandemic period.’
There were 117,965 grants to Indian nationals this year, an increase of 215% compared to 2019.
Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality with 115,056 visas granted, albeit 4% lower than 2019.
Non-Russell group universities now make up 56% of all CAS used in study visa applications. This is the highest proportion of Non-Russell group CAS seen since the Sponsorship time series began in 2010.
The head of student processing group Ucas has said more students from Nigeria, Ghana and Vietnam should be recruited, amid a row about international admissions – with accusations that some universities are seeking to benefit from the higher fees overseas students pay.