Net migration falls to
a five-year low

Net migration to Britain fell to a five-year low last year.

The latest report from the Office of National Statistics has found that the net migration figure – the number of people moving to the UK, minus those who left – was an estimated 258,000 in the 12 months to December. This is the lowest estimate since 2013.

As expected, the figures show a steady decline in the number of EU citizens who are arriving in the UK (74,000+ net). This is in stark contrast to the number of non-EU nationals moving to the UK – many of whom enter this country to study.


Fewer people than ever are moving here to be with a family member, with only 51,000 recorded as joining or accompanying another person.


The total number of Tier 2 skilled work visas granted rose by 15% to 216,000. This was more than half of all work visas issued. There was a huge increase (62%) in the number of CoS issued in the health and social work sector. This resulted from the removal of doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap in the summer of last year.


Non-EU student immigration is up to its highest level since 2011. 211,000 people arrived in the UK long-term to study. Half of all the Tier 4 student visas issued went to Chinese and Indian nationals. There was a 10% increase in the number of migrants studying at higher education institutions.

In terms of the government’s (unrealistic) net migration target set in 2010, these figures are once again wide of the mark. 

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