Net long-term migration up by over 200,000

Around 212,000 more people moved to the UK long-term in the last year than left, according to the latest estimates.

The net migration figures for the year ending in June, which looked at people coming to the country with the intention to stay for 12 months or more, were published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday.

After peak levels of more than 200,000 in 2015 and early 2016, EU net migration has dropped and now stands at 48,000 in the same period.

This is largely because of a fall in EU immigration, which remains at its lowest level since the year ending March 2013, according to the release.

Since 2016, there has been a decline in immigration for work while people coming to the UK to study has gradually increased, the report added.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Sophie Wingfield, head of policy and public affairs at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, expressed concern at the fall in immigration for work.

She said the figures showed “worrying trends in migration for work continuing.

“Our data has consistently shown a serious shortage of UK workers in many sectors, ranging from healthcare and engineering to hospitality and agriculture, and this has been getting worse since 2013.

“Meanwhile, the UK is becoming a less attractive destination for workers from overseas.

“Employers and recruiters need to be able to attract migrant workers to fill these vital roles.

“It is essential that we build a post-Brexit immigration system which is evidence-based and works for business, workers and the economy.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The figures are classed as experimental estimates after the ONS admitted earlier this year it had been underestimating some EU net migration data since 2016.

An ONS spokesman said: “Our best assessment using all data sources is that long-term immigration, emigration and net migration have remained broadly stable since the end of 2016. However, we have seen different patterns for EU and non-EU citizens.

“While there are still more EU citizens moving to the UK than leaving, EU net migration has fallen since 2016, driven by fewer EU arrivals for work.

“In contrast, non-EU net migration has gradually increased for the past six years, largely as more non-EU citizens came to study.”

Separate immigration figures published by the Home Office showed there had been 189,459 work-related visas granted in the year to September.

This is an 11% rise on the previous year and the highest since 2008 when changes were made to the immigration system.

In the same period, there were 276,889 sponsored study visas granted, including those for children of applicants, which shot up 16% on the previous year and is the highest level since 2011. Chinese nationals account for 43% of such visas granted.

The majority (86%) of applicants want to study at UK universities, according to the figures.