Indian citizens continued to top visa-related categories in the year ending September 2020, which witnessed a “significant impact” on the UK’s immigration system due to the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures released on Thursday said.
The Home Office said that the pandemic has had a “significant impact” on the immigration system, both in terms of restricting migrant movements to and from the UK and the impact on operational capacity. Curbs across the European Union and elsewhere also impacted travel to the UK.
UK granted 917,683 visitor visas granted in the year ending September 2020, a 61% fall due to the pandemic, as against the general upward trend over the last 10 years. Chinese (171,610) and Indian (156,725) nationals together accounted for 36% of all visitor visas granted.
Indian professionals accounted for almost half (45%) of all Tier 2 visas granted, but their number of grants fell by 36% to 36,219 in the year ending September 2020. In the year ending September 2019, 56,164 such visas were granted to Indians.
The top non-EU nationality granted British citizenship during the year was Indian (11,801). The citizenship is granted after a period of mandatory stay in the UK, usually five years in the case of professionals.
There was a “notable increase” in the number of Tier 4 (student) visas granted to Indians: an increase of 48% compared to the year ending September 2019, and continuing an increase seen since 2016.
However, how many of them actually arrived to begin their courses at UK universities and higher education institutions from September will not be clear until early 2021 when new student enrolment figures are released.
The number of student visas to Indians was up 14,496 or 48% to 44,992. India was the only nationality to see a large increase and now account for 26% of all Tier 4 visas in the year ending September 2020, up from 11% a year earlier, the Home Office said.
While Tier 4 visas to Indian nationals decreased by 6,444 or 48% from April-August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 due to Covid-19, the significant increase in other months of the year ending September 2020 sustained a notable increase compared to 2019.
Those arriving in the UK on student visas bring relatively few dependants. In the year ending September 2020 the top three nationalities accounted for more than two thirds (68%) of Tier 4 dependants: India (40%), Nigeria (15%), and Saudi Arabia (14%).
On grants related to family visas, officials said there was a fall for most nationalities as a result of the pandemic, but there were particular falls for the top two nationalities: Pakistan (down 2,588 or 28%), India (down 778 or 19%),
Indian nationals in the UK were granted the highest number of all work-related extensions during the year (41% of the total, which reflects the higher proportion of successful applications for Tier 2 visas issued to Indian professionals).
Up to the end of September 2020, 14,612 Indians who were unable to travel home at the end of their current visa were given visa extensions.