Braverman and the wishes of brave immigrantsNovember 23rd, 2023
by Bryan Obaji
It is no longer news that Suella Braverman is now referred to as former home secretary, following her removal from office. Her admirers received the news with shock, while the rest were either happy or indifferent. Although political as it may look, the decision of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister seems to have brought a lot of excitement to the faces of some immigrants and those affected by Braverman’s policies.
Recall that in a written statement to Parliament on May 23, 2023, Braverman proposed some restrictions on international students bringing dependants unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes; she equally proposed the halt of students switching from the student route to the work route before the completion of their studies.
The home office under her leadership based its decision on figures which indicate that in 2021-2022 there were 679,970 international students in the UK about 136,000 visas were granted to dependants of sponsored students in the year ending December 2022, which signalled a major increase from the 2019 figures which stood at 16,000.
While Braverman said the decision was made in an effort to better protect the public service, while supporting the economy, by allowing the students who contribute the most to keep coming, a wide range of those affected by the policy regard it as unfair, considering the key role international students play in the economy of the United Kingdom (UK), and by restricting them from being with their families is unbalanced.
Clearly, the former home office boss had the backing of the government and her colleagues, the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan described the rise in the number of families brought to the UK by students as ‘significant’. “It is right we are taking action to reduce this number while maintaining a commitment to our International Education Strategy which continues to enrich the UK’s education sector and make a significant contribution to the wider economy,” Keegan said.
Although the policy on the ban on student dependant visas will take effect in January 2024, the jubilation on the exit of Braverman creates the impression that all policies introduced during her watch will accompany her out of office.
It is however unlikely that there will be a change in the policy that affects students switching their visas while studying and bringing in dependants for a one-year programme. Education secretary Gillian Keegan was not among those who lost their jobs in Rishi Sunak’s shake up, and her views on students bringing families doesn’t look as though they have changed.
There is so much uncertainty amongst those affected by Home Office decisions; they feel the new boss should either rescind past policies or create some that will be in the interest of immigrants. People have left their home countries to go the UK for many reasons; some have either used the study route, work route or on asylum. What is more important to these people is achieving their objectives and any law that is not immigrant friendly will be frowned upon.
This policy, which stands as one of UK’s single biggest tightening measures to curb migration may well be around for a long time, and the new man, James Cleverly may not focus his attention on undoing what seems to be the government’s stance, even though students will now look towards other countries and that may also affect the revenue of UK universities.
As it stands, the UK might no longer be attractive to students who are not willing to be apart from their families for a long time. The figures might force the Cleverly-led Home Office to make an adjustment. Rather than being excited over Braverman’s exit, time will tell if James Cleverly will be the darling of immigrants, or his exit may be the next call.