Net migration to the UK hit a new record high last year, new estimates released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown. The figure is almost double the one estimated on the eve of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership, when annual net migration to the UK had risen to a then-unprecedented high of 336,000. Some 1.2million people migrated to the UK in 2022, while emigration from the country was at 557,000. The majority of immigrants, 925,000, came from non-EU nations, with reasons including work, study and humanitarian issues.
While high, the number did not match the projection released in previous days, with an internal Home Office modelling of net migration forecasting 728,000 more people came to the UK than left permanently.
This was also noted by former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, who told Sky News’s Kay Burley: “They are high [figures], and they are higher than last year’s, but they are nowhere near as high as some of the projections we understood to be the case.”
He added: “If you take students out, if you take Hong Kong out, we are looking at figures that are significant, but might allow us to have a more mature and honest debate about the need for some migration but also the need to increase the number of people here in the UK who are economically active, which of course is a job that will take longer than perhaps the expectations of some we are hearing.”
The ONS pointed out the world witnessed “unique events” that led to a higher number of immigrants reaching the UK. Express.co.uk has looked into the main factors driving up net migration levels in 2022.
The war in Ukraine
A few days after Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, Ukrainians were allowed to enter the UK on Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme and Ukraine Family Scheme visas.
The ONS said it doesn’t have enough data to say whether those who have arrived since March last year will stay for 12 months.
While the organisation said previous estimates assumed all those arriving on the Ukraine visa schemes would remain in the UK long-term, it reviewed its assumptions following an analysis shared by the Home Office, which showed some Ukrainians who reached Britain to flee the war left before reaching the 12-month period.
Taking this into consideration, the ONS estimated there were 114,000 long-term arrivals from Ukraine on the Ukraine Schemes in 2022.
Hong Kong’s residents fleeing China’s law
China’s introduction of the new national security law for Hong Kong gave Beijing powers to shape life in the region it never had before and hugely cracked down on dissent and individuals’ freedom.
In January 2021, a few months after the new law was passed, the UK launched a bespoke immigration route for British nationals overseas (BN(O)) status holders and their families from Hong Kong – a move which saw many escaping Beijing’s suffocating control.
The ONS applied the same assumptions to those used for Ukrainians, and estimated there were 52,000 long-term arrivals on BN(O) visas in 2022.
Resettled refugees (included in ONS estimates)
The office said it hadn’t previously included this subgroup in its long-term international migration estimates, but did so in its latest figures.
Migrants arrive in UK on small boats as record immigration figures unveiled[PICS]
Tory MPs to demand meeting with Sunak over disastrous immigration figures[INSIGHT]
Suella’s speeding ticket was a distraction to the real problems[COMMENT]
The ONS said: “There are no returns for resettled refugees on the basis that all resettled persons are long-term international migrants (LTIM), based on declared intent to stay in-country.”
The number of resettlement scheme arrivals esimated by the office for 2022 is of 6,000.
Asylum seekers (included in ONS estimates)
In its latest estimates for immigration, the ONS included asylum applicants (76,000 for 2022) on the basis that under the current system, they might all be expected to remain more than 12 months.
Some 3,000 were removed from the final net migration number as, according to available data, they were known emigrants.
The ONS noticed a substantial increase in students arriving in the UK long-term between September and December 2021 in the wake of the lifting of travel restrictions previously enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.
However, the ONS said: “Evidence suggests that students typically stay for shorter periods than other migrants and that the majority leave at the end of their study; the latest data shows that those who arrived for study reasons in 2021 are now starting to leave.”
Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS commented the office’s latest report saying: “A series of unprecedented world events throughout 2022 and the lifting of restrictions following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to record levels of international immigration to the UK.
“The main drivers of the increase were people coming to the UK from non-EU countries for work, study and for humanitarian purposes, including those arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong. For the first time since using our new methods to measure migration, we have also included asylum seekers in our estimates, with around 1 in 12 non-EU migrants coming via this route.
“There are some signs that the underlying drivers behind these high levels of migration are changing. As lockdown restrictions were lifted in 2021, we saw a sharp increase in students arriving. Recent data suggests that those arriving in 2021 are now leaving the country, with the overall share of non-EU immigration for students falling in 2022.
“In contrast, those arriving on humanitarian routes increased over the 12 months. Evidence also suggests immigration has slowed in recent months, potentially demonstrating the temporary nature of these events.”
Source: Read Full Article