The number of migrants moving to the UK from outside the European Union hit record levels last year, according to official figures.
A staggering estimate of 379,000 people moved to the United Kingdom from non-EU countries in the last year. This is the highest number since records began in 1975 when it was 93,000.
Based on the latest figures published by the Office for National Statics (ONS), net migration from nations not in the EU has also reached its highest level since 2004, with an estimated 250,000 more people arriving than leaving. Data for the year to September 2019 also revealed that EU migration stood at 64,000, similar to the 57,000 recorded a year earlier.
“Immigration for study has gone up and is now the main reason for migration”, said Jay Lindop, the director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, adding: “This is driven by more non-EU students arriving, specifically Chinese and Indian. Since 2016, immigration for work has decreased because of fewer EU citizens arriving for a job.”
An estimated 27 percent who were moving to the UK said they were coming for work, while around 14 percent moved to the country for family reasons, such as accompanying someone on a work or study visa. The finding prompted questions about the Government’s plan for a new immigration system, which will come into force after freedom of movement ends.
Madeleine Sumption, the director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, describes the new immigration plan as: “much more restrictive, as well as more expensive for both employers and workers”.
She added: “That means the new policy should at least in theory significantly reduce EU immigration in the coming years, but migration levels are notoriously difficult to predict, and policy is not the only thing that affects migration.” Kevin Foster, the minister for future borders and immigration, advocates that the figures highlight: “the importance of taking back control of our borders”.
With non-investment or non-work visas being cracked down upon and high refusal rates, even Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum in the UK are being given a six month to three year cap on their residency under the Ukrainian refugee sponsorship program. It would seem given the fluctuation in migration during the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, migration levels are easier than ever to predict despite Sumption’s statement.