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Net Migration To UK Dropped By 10% In 2023: Report

Migration has become one of the top three concerns for UK voters (Representational)

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Net migration to the UK has fallen by 10% according to a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Net migration, which refers to the difference between the number of people immigrating and emigrating to a country, stood at 6.85 lakh in December 2023 compared to 7.64 lakh in December 2022 in the UK.

However, it is too early to say if this is the start of a downward trend, the ONS said, adding that emigration increased in 2023 while new Home Office data showed visa applications dropped in recent months.

The report, released earlier today, said that the total immigration to the UK was 12 lakh, while emigration stood at 5.32 lakh for the year ending December 2023. 

What Is Fueling Migration To The UK?

The primary reason for migration to the UK last year was work, with an increase in the number of people arriving from outside the European Union on work visas. This also replaced higher studies as the main reason for migration.

Non-EU immigration for work-related reasons increased from 2.77 lakh in the year ending December 2022 to 4.23 lakh in the year ending December 2023. Almost half of the people immigrating for work came from India and Nigeria, mostly in the health and social care sector. 

Increase In Immigration Of Non-EU Nationals 

According to the estimates, India ranked first among non-EU nationalities for long-term immigration into the UK with 2.5 lakh immigrating to the country in the year ending December 2023. 

India was followed by Nigeria (1.41 lakh), China (90,000), Pakistan (83,000), and Zimbabwe (36,000). The number of Indian, Nigerian, and Pakistani nationals going to the UK has increased significantly since 2019.

In the latest estimates for the year ending December 2023, non-EU nationals made up 85% (10.31 lakh) of total long-term immigration, similar to the levels in December 2022.

EU nationals used to make up the majority of long-term immigration. But since 2021, when the new immigration system was implemented and free movement ended for EU nationals, most coming to the UK are non-EU nationals. 

Fall In Humanitarian-Related Immigration

The number of non-EU nationals immigrating for humanitarian reasons decreased by 1.11 lakh – from 1.6 lakh in 2022 to 49,000 in 2023. This was due to fewer people from Hong Kong and Ukraine via Visa support schemes.

Migration One Of The Top Concerns For UK Voters

Migration has become one of the top three concerns for UK voters in the upcoming general elections, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced will take place on July 4.

It’s important to note that these figures cover a period before the Sunak government introduced changes to migration rules for family, study, and work-related visas, that have come into effect at varying dates from January 2024.