There were more than 300,000 grants of family visas and permits in the past year (a huge rise of 116,000 compared with the total seen just before the pandemic).
Within this, the latest immigration figures from the Home Office suggest a large rise in chain immigration to the UK, with the number of people coming as dependants of those entering on other visas nearly tripling since the previous year (rising from 75,000 to 206,000).
- Nearly 50,000 more relatives of those coming on study visas
- Nearly 50,000 more relatives of those coming on work visas
- 34,000 dependants of those coming on the pathway to citizenship visa from Hong Kong
Dependants are spouses, partners, children and the application is linked to that of the main applicant They have near full access to UK labour market, can work in any skill level (no salary or skill test) and can engage in study. There is no English language test. Children are entitled to state education. Dependants must pay the immigration health surcharge.
Figure 1 below shows what happened to grants of entry for dependants (family members) of those given permission to come here on work, study or other visas since 2005.
The Home Office table below the line graph depicts the increases in the various categories of visas granted to dependants on other visas, in the years ending March 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Figure 1: Dependants of migrants coming to UK on other visas, 2005 to Year Ending March 2022, Home Office.
However, there were also particularly large increases in grants to dependants of Sponsored study visa holders (from 23,765 in the year ending March 2021 to 72,554 in the year ending March 2022), and dependants of Skilled workers (up from 37,764 to 83,400).
This will be linked with the fact that controls on both study and work visas have been substantially weakened as part of the post-Brexit immigration system, which came online on 1 January 2021.
Figure 2: Dependants of those on other visas by category of the person being accompanied. Year ending March 2022.
Figure 3 below shows that nationals of just five countries made up 70% of 205,889 dependants.
There was a significant rise in dependants from Nigeria, the number of whom nearly quadrupled from just under 9,000 in year ending March 2021 to 34,800 in year ending March 2022. Nearly 80% of Nigerian dependants accompanied those coming to the UK on sponsored study visas.
Those from China / Hong Kong came in as dependants under the B(NO) scheme of which there were a total of 35,752.
Figure 3: Dependants of those on other visas. Five of the top nationalities in year ending March 2022.
For more on these statistics, see the full Home Office data here.