Indian nationals topped the number of skilled worker and student visas issued by the UK over the past year, according to official immigration data released in London on Thursday.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data collected by the UK Home Office shows that cross-sector skilled work, including specially targeted healthcare visas aimed at meeting staff shortages in the National Health Service (NHS) Indian citizens were the top nationality.
They also made up the largest group of students granted visas under the new graduate post-study work route, representing 41 per cent of grantees.
“Indian nationals were the top nationality for visas in the ‘workers’ category, representing a third (33 per cent) of grants, and were the top nationality for both ‘skilled workers’ and ‘skilled workers – health and care’. Visas , “Home Office Analysis Note.
“A total of 92,951 graduate route extensions were granted to past students in the year ending March 2023. Indian nationals represented the largest group of students who were granted leave to remain on the graduation path, representing 41 per cent of the grant,” it said.
According to the latest data, skilled worker visas granted to Indians increased by 63 per cent from 13,390 in 2021-22 to 21,837 in 2022-23. In the healthcare visa category, Indians registered a higher growth of 105 per cent from 14,485 to 29,726.
“There were 138,532 sponsored study visa grants to Indian nationals in the year ending March 2023, an increase of 53,429 (+63 per cent) over the year ending March 2022 and the largest number of study visas granted to any nationality. Study grants for Indian nationals have increased markedly since the year ended March 2019 and are now almost seven times higher,” notes the analysis.
“Nigeria had the highest number of sponsored study visa holders (66,796) in the year ending March 2023, increasing from 27,137 in the year ending March 2022. Indian nationals had the second largest number of dependents, increasing from 22,598. 42,381.” It notes.
The latest data comes days after UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced a freeze on the right of student visa holders to bring dependent family members, restricting it to PhD-level students only.
“This package includes: Removing the right of international students to bring dependents unless they are currently on postgraduate courses designated as research programmes,” Braverman said in a statement to the House of Commons on measures to curb migration Announcing a new package of Rs.
It was widely seen as a pre-emptive action ahead of the latest figures from the ONS revealing on Thursday that net migration to the UK is set to reach a record 606,000 in 2022-23, up from 504,000 in the previous year and workers and was driven by a sharp increase in students. From outside the European Union (EU).
The ONS said more people coming from outside the European Union on student and work visas, as well as the Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes, had also contributed.
Responding to the figures, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The numbers are high, it’s as simple as that. And I want to bring them down.” Asked whether immigration was out of control, British-Indian Prime Minister replied: “Well, no, I think the numbers are too high.” He told ITV that measures to tighten visa rules for foreign students this week were “significant” and that levels would come down over time .
From next year, only those with postgraduate research programs will be able to bring their families to the UK, in an effort to reduce net emigration.
The rise in numbers will intensify calls for a tougher crackdown on immigration norms from within the ruling Conservative Party, which has had an election goal of reducing the total number, especially in the wake of Brexit.
However, experts caution that including foreign students within the overall net migration statistics is in itself a flawed approach.
Lord Karan Bilimoria, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Students, who raised the issue in Parliament, said, “We have a situation where the migration figures are frightening and I feel very strongly about this. I do.”
“We should exclude international students from the net migration figures. The US and Australia consider international students to be temporary migrants. We are unnecessarily creating an immigration scare by including them as international students en masse go back to their countries from where they come.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI,