Study Abroad in 2024: What are the new student visa requirements for top destinations?

Student Visa: Here’s what’s changing in the visa requirements for the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany and France

Study Abroad 2024: Indians will face many changes in student visa requirements of top countries including US, UK, Australia and Canada.Study Abroad 2024: Indians will face many changes in student visa requirements of top countries including US, UK, Australia and Canada.

Pritha Roy Choudhury | January 5, 2024 | 05:32 PM IST

NEW DELHI: While last year saw a large number of Indian students leaving to study abroad – the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Germany issued record numbers of visas – 2024 will likely look very different. The UK, Australia and Canada, some of the most popular overseas education destinations for Indians have all changed their student visa regulations to control immigration.

At the same time, European countries such as France and Germany have introduced new policies to attract international students. According to one report, over 13 lakh students left India to study abroad in 2022.

Given below are the changes in visa regulations for Indian students hoping to pursue undergraduate studies or masters degrees abroad.

UK student visa

The United Kingdom’s new student visa rules no longer allow international students to bring their dependent family members along. However, the much smaller number of students pursuing masters in the UK on government scholarships will still be eligible for the student dependent visas.

Tom Pursglove MP, minister for legal migration and the border, UK said, “Our world-leading universities rightly attract some of the brightest students from around the world to the UK. But we have seen a surge in the number of dependents being brought by students, which is contributing to unsustainable levels of migration.”

As per data from the Office for National Statistics, Indians accounted for 27% of all dependent UK visas, the most of any country. The number of dependent visas issued to Indians grew 1,900% from 2019 to 2023. The number of visas issued to Indians to study in UK grew 54% in 2023.

A statement from the home office said: “The changes to student visas strike the right balance to continue to preserve the attractiveness of the UK’s world-leading higher education sector while removing the ability for institutions to undermine the UK’s reputation by selling immigration, not education.”

Also read Study Abroad: These firms help international students find places to stay

F1 visa for the United States

The US State Department-supported Open Doors report said that 2.68 lakh Indians went to study in the US in 2022-23, the highest number ever. While the US has not substantially tightened its visa policies, it has made changes to the F, M and J student visa application process to prevent fraud.

It is now mandatory for students to use their passport information for visa application. This change is to prevent fraud in the visa appointment system. The policy change was implemented from November and is intended to stop the misuse of passports.

“All F, M, and J student visa applicants must use their own passport information when creating a profile and scheduling their visa appointment,” said a statement from the US embassy in India.

The Department of State has authorised consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for F, M and J visa applicants who have previously been issued any type of US visa.

Australia visa

The Australian government has implemented stricter visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers. The ministry of home affairs’ statement said the new Australia student visa policies have been applicable from December 15, 2023.

The new policy bars international students from pursuing multiple programmes together, leading to “visa hopping” and prolonged stay, and has also re-imposed restrictions on work hours. The last had been relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic; now, work hours are capped at 48 hours in a fortnight. Prospective students hoping to study in Australia also have to show higher savings in their bank. The minimum amount in savings has been raised to $24,505, an increase of 17%.

“There are challenges in international education. As students have come back, so have some dodgy and unscrupulous players who are trying to take advantage of them,” said Jason Clare, minister for education. “This will help ensure the integrity of one of our biggest exports while cracking down on dodgy operators.”

How, these are a part of a larger plan to overhaul the system to control immigration to Australia.

Also read Study in Australia: Key takeaways from new visa rules, migration plan

Study in Canada

Starting from January 1, 2024, Canada has doubled the cost-of-living financial requirement to $20,635. This was announced by Marc Miller, minister for immigration, refugees and citizenship on December 7, 2023.

“Moving forward, this threshold will be adjusted each year when Statistics Canada updates the low-income cut-off (LICO). LICO represents the minimum income necessary to ensure that an individual does not have to spend a greater than average portion of income on necessities,” he said.

A single applicant will need to show that they have $20,635 in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs to be issued a Canada student visa.

Also, as per a separate announcement on October 27, higher educational institutions need to admit only as many students as they can provide support for, including housing facilities for international students.

Miller has also said that ahead of the September 2024 semester, Canada will limit visas.

Study in Germany

New German study visa rules are being introduced in phases, with the first reforms announced in November. There will be more changes in March and June, 2024. But in this case, the changes are intended to address the labour shortage in the country. The new student visa rules are expected to make it easier for nationals of non-European Union countries or developing countries to work and live in Germany.

Skilled workers will be able to take their spouse, children and parents to the country and also take parents-in-law provided the spouse also becomes a permanent resident of Germany.

The country has announced new initiatives to attract international students. This will include recruiting international students and graduates and training them to be future specialists of the German workforce.

The new initiative launched by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD Germany) initiative will consist of two programmes, FIT and Profi Plus.

The FIT programme will prepare the foreign graduates to join the workforce after attending courses and tailor-made programmes in participating universities. The Profi Plus programme is for those who already have a foreign university degree and experience working in a foreign country. These students will be trained to adapt to the German labour market.

Indians form the largest contingent of international students in Germany.

Study in France

France has introduced steps to attract 30,000 Indian students by 2030. The classes for international students will initially be in English but French language courses will help them transition to classes in French.

It is also offering a five-year Schengen visa to Indians who have a postgraduate degree or above and have spent at least one semester studying in France. This will help Indian alumni to travel freely within the Schengen area for up to five years.

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