The United Kingdom (UK)’s recent visa restriction banning foreign students, including Nigeria from bringing their families into the country, creates an opportunity to look at other countries which are welcoming international students with families.
Most of the countries in the European region have been reviewing their visa and immigration policies by offering flexible immigration pathways in a bid to attract large, young and vibrant labour to grow and develop their economy.
“The whole of Europe has a population problem as it has an ageing population. This restriction will shed more light on other countries looking for skilled workers,” Toyyib Adelodun, a UK-based immigration consultant, said.
He said most of the tuition fees in European countries are not expensive but that the only problem is the language barrier. “But if Nigerians are determined to stay, they can overcome that problem.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the British government said the new restriction will come into effect for students starting in January 2024 in order to allow future international students time to plan ahead.
“The UK is a top destination for the brightest students to learn at some of the world’s best universities. But we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of student dependents being brought into the country with visas,” Suella Braverman, UK’s home secretary said in the statement.
She said it is time for the country to tighten up this route to ensure it can cut migration numbers and meet the government’s pledge to the British people to cut net migration.
Before the restriction, the British government allowed sponsored study visa holders also known as student visa holders to bring their partners and children (dependants) into the country.
The number of Nigerians granted sponsored study visas increased by 768.7 percent to 59,053 in 2022, the highest in four year from 6,798 in 2019. Their dependants rose by 3,741.3 percent to 60,923 in 2022, the highest in UK from 1,586 in 2019,
This shows that Nigeria’s dependents were more than sponsored study visa holders. The dependents are also almost half of the total 135,788 dependents of students for the UK.
“When looking at the proportional change in visa grants to dependants, by nationality, Nigeria saw a large increase in the proportion of sponsored study related visas granted to dependants, from 19 percent in 2019, to 51 percent in 2022,” the British government said on its website.
The demand or need to immigrate for Nigerians is not too hard to diagnose as high poverty, unemployment, poor human capital development, insecurity and poor education are some of the many reasons its young population are bailing out of the country to greener pastures.
And seeking higher education abroad has now been a major means of permanent emigration.
A recent report by Phillips Consulting Limited said 52 percent of Nigerian professionals plan to quit their jobs and relocate abroad in the next one year. It said the top three reasons people plan to move to another country are better job opportunities, insecurity challenges, and higher education.
“Most of those surveyed plan to relocate to Canada, the UK, and the United States. These countries are relying on immigration to help offset the effects of an ageing workforce due to the Baby Boomer generation retiring,” the report said.
Here are seven countries that allows international students to bring their families.
This developed economy aims to welcome over 460,000 new immigrants each year to strengthen the economy, reunite families, and help refugees.
Under its immigration levels plan, Canada is now looking to get 465,000 new permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025
The country’s dependent visa allows international students to bring their dependents and also allows them to work or study full time once they have the relevant permits.
“The spouses of students shall be eligible for an open work permit. Note that the spouse or common-law partner’s work permit shall be valid for the same period as the students’ study permit,” Akanksha Malhotra, a study abroad adviser said in a recent article.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Nigeria ranks fifth in Canada’s top 10 international students market as the number of study permits for Nigeria rose by 17.8 percent to 16,195 in 2022, the highest on record, from 13,745 in 2021.
Since 2020, Germany’s Skilled Immigration Act has made migration to the country easier for skilled workers especially from non-European countries. Its shortage of skilled workers created a need for the Act.
And the government is undertaking more measures to make the immigration system more flexible for foreign skilled workers by scrapping numerous bureaucratic procedures and introducing facilitations for third-country workers with professional qualifications.
Germany’s dependent visa also known as a family reunion visa permits the spouse, children, and other family members to join and live with their family members residing in Germany. They can either reside temporarily or permanently in the country.
The country is amongst the top countries to immigrate to due to its superior education system, diverse work opportunities, and growing economy.
Enjoy Travel recently, rated Germany as one of the best countries in which to raise a family. “The German school system and healthcare system were rated particularly well, each with 20 points. The study pointed out that the median salary in Germany is also markedly higher than in most other European countries,” it said.
Just like Canada and Germany, Australia has been luring more skilled migrants. Its dependent visa program allows international students to bring their spouse and families to the country.
The country is amongst the top places to study. It ranked third for Nigerians as the number of students rose to 2,372 in 2022 from 1,928 in the previous year.
Last month, the government proposed overhauling its immigration system to speed up getting highly skilled workers into the country and smoothing the path to permanent residency.
Immigration has played an important part in this country’s economic development. Its skilled migrant category is the most popular visa pathway to residence in, for migrants and their families.
According to the government, the resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category will allow you to live, work and study in the country indefinitely and “you can include your partner and your dependent children aged 24 and under.”
“This visa policy is based on a points system that factors in multiple elements considered to be employability and settlement indicators,” it said.
New Zealand also has a dependent child student visa that allows a dependent child to join their parents in the country and study at a primary or secondary school. “A dependent child can be treated as a domestic student, which means you don’t have to pay tuition fees for them to go to school.”
A recent 2023 World happiness report ranked Finland as the happiest country in the world for the sixth consecutive year.
Edugo Abroad, an overseas education consultant, said the country has the world’s leading higher education universities which provide top English-taught bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.
“These institutions provide several scholarships programs. In Finland, you can move with your spouse as their immigration rules are very flexible and favorable in the student’s interest,” it said.
In the nine months of 2022, the country issued more residence permits compared to the previous year as its processing time of visa application was 77 days on an average, about 46 percent less compared to 143 days in the previous period, the Finnish Immigration Service revealed.
The country’s immigration service also aims to issue work-related residence permits within a month by 2023 as well as inform customers more about their application processing.
If an international student wants to bring their family to Denmark, they must apply for its green card Dependent visa. It allows a Danish green card holder to bring their family with them to the nation while they are living and working there.
“It offers the highest wage for part-time jobs which is up to 20 euro/hour with 100 percent success rate. In this English speaking nation, you can apply with your spouse and kids,” Edugo Abroad said.
This small country is a popular student destination of various professional programs offering more than 150 degrees.
With low cost of tuition and living, the country boasts incredible scenery, stunning architecture and offers a high-quality experience, Edu Aboard said.
“Students interested in studying abroad with their spouse, Estonia is the best destination. The government provides several part-time perks for you and your partners.”