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Third-country nationals push UK net migration to record high


Net immigration to the UK has reached the highest rate on record, according to statistics released on Thursday.

The UK’s Office of National Statistics found that 504,000 more people entered the country than left.

This increase in the year to June 2022 was largely due to the arrival of third-country nationals, in particular students (39% of the total).

The largest proportion of those leaving the UK are EU nationals.

Visa schemes for Ukrainians fleeing the war, Afghan nationals and a route for British nationals overseas from Hong Kong have led to around 186,000 arrivals, the ONS said.

The estimates covered the initial period when COVID restrictions were lifted, as well as the introduction of a new immigration system after the EU transition.

“A series of global events have impacted international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022,” said Jay Lindop, director of the Center for International Migration, Office for National Statistics.

“Taken together, they were unprecedented.”

Stable European immigration

While EU nationals made up the largest proportion of those leaving the UK – at 275,000 compared to 195,000 third-country nationals – the ONS noted that emigration from the UK was stable.

He also found that immigration of EU citizens to the country remained broadly stable, but noted that it was too early to say whether this would continue.

EU nationals made up 21% of total immigration to the UK in the year ending June 2022, or 224,000.

The record figures – representing the highest net migration since the end of the Second World War – were mainly due to people coming from elsewhere in the world.

Third-country nationals accounted for 66% of total long-term immigration at 704,000, an increase of 379,000 from the previous period.

British nationals made up the remaining 13% of immigration to the UK, including some holders of British overseas nationality from Hong Kong.

The reasons why EU and UK nationals have immigrated to the country are varied. 37% came to the UK to ‘work’, 15% to study and 45% said they came for ‘other’ reasons.

‘Unprecedented’

An estimated 1.1 million people arrived in the country as a whole, an increase of 435,000 from the previous year.

According to the ONS, most of the increase is due to students arriving to study. A total of 487,000 student visas were issued in the year to June 2022, an increase of 71%.

Students are a very fluid population and the ONS said many were likely to leave after completing their studies.

The British government has repeatedly pledged to reduce immigration to the country, so far with little success.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to bring the numbers down to the tens of thousands, while future British leader Boris Johnson has rejected the target, saying immigration is vital for jobs and growth.

“These many independent factors contributing to migration at the moment mean it is too early to say whether this picture will be maintained,” Lindop said, highlighting how the numbers were influenced by the lifting of restrictions on migration. Covid travel and reception of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees.

The report estimates around 35,000 people arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The number of people granted asylum in the UK was 24% lower than in 2019, despite a 77% increase in applications.

Those arriving in the UK on student visas accounted for the largest proportion of non-EU nationals immigrating to the UK at 277,000.

The ONS said this may have been due to the lifting of Covid restrictions in 2021 which has seen more students come to study, adding that it is “too early to tell” whether this trend would continue.

He also highlighted the potential influence of the new postgraduate visa route, allowing students to work in the UK for three years after completing their studies.

euronews Gt

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