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Home Office data confirms decline in UK visa issuance through the first quarter of 2024 – ICEF Monitor

Home Office data confirms decline in UK visa issuance through the first quarter of 2024 – ICEF Monitor
Home Office data confirms decline in UK visa issuance through the first quarter of 2024 – ICEF Monitor


Data published by the Home Office on June 13 showed a decline in the issuance of student visas in the 12 months to March 2024.

Visa issuances for principal applicants (rather than dependents) were down 6% year-on-year and 10% compared to the all-time high in June 2023. 19 Since the pandemic, the number of visas issued has risen sharply, reaching a peak of 498,626 in the year ending June 2023. “The number of visas issued in the most recent year is slightly lower than the peak of 446,924.”

The decline appears closely linked to a January 2024 rule change that will ban international students from bringing dependents with them while studying in the UK, unless they are enrolled in a research-focused postgraduate programme.

But the relatively modest decline in visa issuances through March may signal a more important trend. As previously reported by the Home Office, the number of applications for study visas in the first three months of 2024 was down 44% compared to the same period last year.

The slowdown reported this year follows a period of significant growth in visa volume since 2016. This growth is closely linked to the increase in the number of visas for accompanying dependents. The Home Office said: “There were 111,481 visas issued to student dependents at the end of March 2024, down 25% on the previous year but almost seven times higher than in 2019. In recent years, the number of major applicants peaked in March 2023. The number of dependents per 10 primary applicants was approximately 3, but the number of dependents declined at a faster rate in the first quarter (through March 2024). “One-fifth (20%) of sponsored study visas were issued to dependents.”

In the chart below, you can see the decline in dependent visas (along with the decline in visas for primary applicants).

Sponsored study visas granted by applicant type between the year ending March 2011 and the year ending March 2024. Source: UK Home Office

As previously reported, much of this growth and the recent decline in study visas issued can be traced to two major export markets: India and Nigeria. By March 2024, the number of study visas issued to primary applicants from India and Nigeria had fallen by 16% and 38% respectively compared to the same period last year.

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Sponsored Study Visa granted to top 5 nationalities (primary applicants) from the end of March 2019 to the end of March 2024. Source: UK Home Office

The majority of UK study visas are issued for postgraduate study (66% of main applicants for the year ending March 2024), with another 25% issued to students enrolled in undergraduate programmes.

Student visas granted to principal applicants by course level between the year ending March 2019 and the year ending March 2024. Source: UK Home Office

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