‘Bring Your Family’ – UK Universities Use Chain Migration Appeal to Attract Indian Students

BOSTON, UK, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/06/18: People walk past an Indian restaurant in the town
Emanuele Giovagnoli/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The UK’s lax post-Brexit immigration system has seen education agents advertise university slots for students with the promise of being able to bring family members and spouses to Britain under a chain migration scheme.

Indian students are being targeted by education agents with advertisements boasting the ability to bring your family along to the UK. The practice of bringing Indian students and their family or spouses to the country has soared in recent years, with 161,000 students and 33,240 dependents coming to the country last year, more than any other ethnic group and overtaking Chinese at the top positions.

In one advertisement, seen by The Telegraph, the education agency New Way Consultancy (NWC), which boasts relationships with 70 UK universities, wrote: “Do you want to study in the UK? Have plans to become a global citizen? Want to fly with your spouse and dependent? Apply fast and secure your admission as quickly as possible through NWC, we are the official agent of 75-plus UK universities.”

Another from the same agency said that students could “fly with spouse” to the country while a third one said that students and dependents “can apply together”.

An Indian student speaking to the paper said: “In effect, the university course is used by some Indian students to enter the UK for jobs for dependents rather than excelling in academia.”

“Many friends have brought their partners here on a student visa and they are working in different companies. So, the idea is to live and earn here and try to get UK citizenship and live here for life,” another added.

Others claimed that they worked full time jobs as dishwashers or other labour in Indian restaurants in central London rather than attending class in order to earn enough money to prolong their stay in the UK.

“These businessmen exploit the students and pay them in cash at the rate of £7.50 per hour or even less,” an Indian postgraduate told the paper. “In such a set-up, it is evident that education is not the priority but earning the living costs to extend stay in the UK,” the postgraduate added.

The revelations come as net migration hit its highest level in recorded history, with over 504,000 more people coming to the country over the past year than those that left. This was driven by the record 1.1 million visas issued to foreigners under Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit points-based immigration scheme.

Under the system, which crucially failed to place a hard cap on the number of migrants per year like the Australian model that it was supposedly based upon, chain migration soared to 303,553, an increase of 61 per cent over the previous year. This included 226,400 visas issued to family members of people who were on visas themselves, rather than full British citizens.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has claimed that she is in favour of cutting net migration, particularly singling out the number of student visas issued per year and chain migration as key areas in which she would like to see cuts.

“I think we have too many students coming into this country, who are propping up substandard course in inadequate institutions and I think poor universities are being bankrolled by foreign students,” she said in October, adding that she believes that students  or low-skilled labourers should not be allowed to bring family members to the country on their visas.

It remains to be seen, however, if Braverman’s vision will win out in Downing Street, with others, such as anti-Brexit finance chief Jeremy Hunt previously downplaying the government’s desire to cut migration. Hunt and Prime Minister Sunak have so far seemed to favour the idea of increased migration in order to supposedly stimulate economic growth — something which they were apparently not concerned about when they raised taxes to the highest levels since the Second World War.

Sunak also seems intent on expanding immigration further from India, where his wife’s family enjoys elite status as the owners of tech giant Infosys. Last month,  Sunak agreed to a mini-deal on visas with Indian Prime Minister Modi to open the door to more middle-class “young professionals” moving to Britain. It is likely that even more avenues to Indian migration will be opened up once the two countries agree on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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