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5 Key Changes in UK Visa Rules for Students & Skilled Workers in 2024

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The UK government has introduced tighter visa regulations starting 2024, reflecting a strategic move to manage soaring net migration figures. With net migration reaching a record 672,000 in June 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, these adjustments are poised to reshape the landscape for international students, particularly from India.

Here’s a breakdown of the key changes, their implications, and the silver linings for those pursuing higher education in the UK.

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UK’s New 2024 Visa Rules

The UK’s recent visa changes present hurdles for international students & skilled workers, especially regarding finances and family support. However, a UK education remains valuable due to its strong job market, globally recognized degrees, and dedicated university support.

1. Restrictions on Dependants

New Rule: Stricter limitations on bringing family members for postgraduate research students.

Impact: Under the new visa policies international students enrolled in government-subsidized research programs will no longer be able to bring dependants. This could pose financial and emotional challenges, potentially deterring those who depend on family support during their studies.

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Tip: Students should explore alternative support systems within the university and local community to mitigate this challenge.

2. Increased Immigration Health Surcharge

New Rule: The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) has increased from £675 to £1,035 per year.

Impact: This hike translates to an additional £720 for a typical two-year master’s program, increasing the overall cost of education and potentially straining student budgets.

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Tip: Consider budgeting carefully and seeking scholarships or financial aid options to manage these extra costs.

Also Read: UK Visa Processing Times in 2024: What to Expect & How to Avoid Delays

3. Higher Salary Threshold for Skilled Worker Visa

New Rule: The minimum salary requirement for the Skilled Worker visa has been raised from £26,200 to £38,700 annually, effective April 2024.

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Impact: This change affects international graduates aiming for UK employment post-graduation, as finding jobs meeting the new salary threshold may become more challenging.

Tip: Focus on building a strong skill set and gaining relevant experience during studies to improve employability and meet the new criteria.

4. Opportunities Despite Challenges

Strong Job Market and Employability: Despite visa hurdles, the UK’s job market remains a significant draw. Top UK universities rank high for graduate employability, suggesting excellent career prospects for graduates.

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Globally Recognized Degrees: UK degrees are highly esteemed and globally recognized. Prestigious rankings, such as QS World University Rankings 2024, include several UK institutions among the world’s best, enhancing graduates’ competitive edge internationally.

University Support for International Students:

  • Dedicated Visa Advisors: Universities provide expert advisors to help students navigate visa applications and understand new regulations.
  • Comprehensive Online Resources: Detailed online guides keep students informed about visa changes and necessary preparations.
  • Pre-departure Briefings and Workshops: Sessions offer practical advice and support, helping students adjust to life in the UK.

Tip: Leverage university resources to stay updated on visa regulations and ease your transition.

Also Read: New UK Visa Rules: Impact on Caregivers, Students, and Skilled Workers

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5. Strategic Planning for International Students

Financial Planning: Factor in the increased Immigration Health Surcharge and potential living expenses without dependants. Explore scholarships and part-time work options to offset costs.

Career Preparation: Focus on building a robust portfolio that meets the new Skilled Worker visa salary requirements. Utilize university career services for guidance and networking opportunities.

Community Engagement: Connect with local Indian communities and student organizations for support and networking, easing the cultural and emotional transition.

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Final Thoughts

The UK’s stricter visa policies undoubtedly introduce challenges for international students. However, with strategic planning, leveraging available resources, and focusing on the advantages of a UK education, students can still navigate these changes successfully and achieve their academic and career goals in the UK.


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