Ministers have launched a crackdown on foreign students bringing family members to the UK as they try to bring down immigration numbers.
The move, announced today by home secretary Suella Braverman, comes ahead of the publication of official figures on Thursday which are expected to show a large rise in net migration.
The Conservatives said they would bring down net migration from the 226,000 level it was at the time.
But speaking to journalists on his way to the G7 summit in Japan, Sunak said that while he wanted to bring down legal immigration, he would not stand by the manifesto target.
According to the government, 136,000 visas were issued to the dependents of foreign students in 2022 - an eight-fold increase from 16,000 the year before.
Under the measures announced today only foreign students doing post-graduate courses “currently designated as research programmes” will be able to bring family members to the UK.
They will also be banned from switching from the student visa route to the work visa routes before their studies are complete.
Braverman said ministers will also “clamp down on unscrupulous education agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications to sell immigration not education”.
The home secretary said: “This package strikes the right balance between acting decisively on tackling net migration and protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK.
“Now is the time for us to make these changes to ensure an impact on net migration as soon as possible.”
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said the measures would enable to government to bring net migration back down to pre-pandemic levels “in the medium term”.
However, he insisted the changes would not damage the UK’s reputation for providing quality higher education for people from abroad.
He said: “It is about getting the balance right. We have an extremely competitive offer to international students that will remain.”