Brexit Britain a more attractive destination than ever

Brexit 'needs to be fully completed' says Farage

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In the year leading up to June, the UK issued more than 330,000 working visas, more than in any other year on record. Far from Brexit shutting the UK off from the world, during its first year the Government’s new immigration policies have enabled the country to welcome large numbers of skilled migrants, as well as record numbers of students from India, China and Nigeria.

The UK granted 331,233 work-related visas in the year ending June 2022, 72 percent more than in 2019, according to Home Office statistics.

This the highest number of work visas issued in any 12-month period since current records began in 2005.

Some of this increase can be attributed to the introduction of entry visa requirements for European Union nationals since Brexit, although these represented just 10 percent of the total in the past year.

Testament to the enduring global appeal of the UK, the number of work-related visas awarded to non-European nationals rose by 55 percent on 2019 levels.

In June, senior fellow at UK in a Changing Europe Jonathan Portes said: “The new system does not represent an unequivocal tightening of immigration controls. 

“Rather, it rebalances the system from one which was essentially laissez-faire for Europeans, while quite restrictionist for non-Europeans, to a uniform system that, on paper at least, has relatively simple and transparent criteria.

“Indeed, the first year of the regime has seen a significant rise in work visas issues compared to pre-pandemic levels, particularly in the health sector, and an even larger rise in the number of international student visas. 

“I conclude that there is some cause for optimism about the economic impacts of the new post-Brexit UK immigration system.”

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Neither Brexit nor the pandemic have dampened the UK’s status as an intellectual powerhouse, as the country’s world-class universities continue to attract the brightest minds. 

There were a record 486,868 sponsored study visas granted in the year to June 2022, 71 percent more than 2019.

Almost a quarter of these grants, 24.2 percent, or 117,965, were to Indian nationals, an increase of 215 percent on the previous year.

Nigerian nationals saw the largest relative increase in sponsored study visas, soaring by 686 percent on 2019 to reach a record high of 65,929, making them the third largest nationality group behind Chinese and Indian students.

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EU Settlement Scheme numbers published by the Home Office also show that far from being driven out of the country by Brexit, Europeans already resident in the UK typically preferred to stay.

The latest data show 6.7 million applications to the scheme had been received up to 30 June 2022, of which 6.5 million had been concluded – far more than the 3.5 to 4.1 million originally expected.

There were 40,602 EU Settlement Scheme permits issued to family members of EU nationals resident in the UK over the past year, more than six times the number granted in 2019.

EU nationals also accounted for over a quarter (27 percent) of all citizenship applications in the latest year, compared to just 12 percent in 2016.

A research paper published by the OECD just before the Brexit referendum called The Economic Consequences of Brexit claimed immigration accounted for half of the UK’s total economic growth from 2005 to 2015. 

The study forecast that closing Britain’s borders due to a withdrawal from the EU would significantly weaken the economy – causing it to contract by up to 7.7 percent – owing to a “smaller pool of skills”.

Immigration statistics for the first full year after Brexit free from the impact of the pandemic show roughly 400,000 migrants joined the labour force during the year, more than four times what was predicted by the OECD in 2016.

The Telegraph’s World Economy Editor, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, wrote the UK now has “one of the most liberal and open immigration systems among the developed economies, and considerably more open in key respects than the large EU states.”

In contrast to the image of a nation unfriendly to refugees conjured up by the Rwanda deportation policy, the UK has in fact opened its doors to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war or persecution. 

The UK offered asylum or humanitarian protection to 15,684 people in the year ending June 2022, similar to the average between 2015 and 2018.

As of August 23, 178,900 visas had been granted under the Government’s visa schemes set up for Ukrainians in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion.

In 2020, as Xi Jinping encroached on the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered up to three million of the territory’s residents the chance to settle in the UK.

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