Immigration in Numbers:
2022 statistics revealed

The Home Office has published its latest official migration statistics for the year ending December 2022.

The latest release provides the most up to date estimates on the number of people coming to the UK or extending their stay, gaining citizenship, applying for asylum and being detained or removed from the UK, as well as immigration for work, study or family reasons.

The figures show that in 2022 there were a total of 2,836,490 visas granted, 11% fewer than in 2019, primarily due to 1 million fewer grants of visitor visas, although the total number continues to increase in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Of the visas granted in 2022:

  • 49% were to visit
  • 22% were to study
  • 15% were to work
  • 3% were for family reasons
  • 11% were for other reasons (including grants under the Ukraine visa schemes and the British National (Overseas) route).

Many of the comparisons made in the report look at the 2022 data against figures recorded in 2019, as this was the last year before the outbreak of the pandemic. Besides COVID-19, there are also a range of global events which are likely to have impacted visa numbers recently, including the war in Ukraine, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and the National Security Law in Hong Kong, as well as the end of free movement with the EU and recent immigration policy changes. This means that the Home Office visa statistics at present, include a larger degree of uncertainty around the overall trends.

Below, we set out the main points from the latest release.

Work visas

During 2022, there were 267,670 grants to main applicants on work visas, almost double the number of grants in 2019. The rise is due to increases in both long-term sponsored work visas and temporary work visas.

Over half (54%) of all work visas granted to main applicants in 2022 were Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visas. Indian nationals were the highest nationality granted under both these routes.

Seasonal Worker visa grants have also risen to 34,532, reflecting the increase in this route’s quota from 2,500 in 2019 to 40,000 in 2022. Seasonal Workers represented almost half (49%) of all ‘Temporary Worker’ visas granted to main applicants.

Study visas

A total of 485,758 sponsored study visas were issued to main applicants in 2022, 81% more than in 2019. However, changes in travel patterns following the pandemic could have led to more students applying for visas in 2022 and so comparisons should be treated with caution at this point.

The most common nationality granted visas under this category was Indian nationals with 139,539 grants, up 307% compared to 2019. Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality, with 102,842 visas granted.

More than a fifth (22%) of all sponsored study related visas granted were to dependants of students, compared to just 6% in 2019.

Family visas

‘Family related visas’ refer to persons wishing to live with a family member as designated within the Immigration Rules. They include people coming to join British citizens, as well as those coming to join another settled migrant in the UK as part of their family.

There were 48,107 family related visas granted in 2022, 14% fewer than in 2019. Over three quarters (76%) of family related visas granted last year were to partners, with the remainder being for children or other dependants.

Settlement & citizenship

There were 133,451 decisions made on applications for settlement in the UK in 2022, 24% more than in 2021 and 41% more than in 2019. Of these, 131,728 (99%) were granted.

There were also 190,741 applications for British citizenship in 2022, 9% more than in 2019, the last year prior to the pandemic. Grants of British citizenship in 2022 were 10% higher than in 2019.

EU nationals accounted for almost a quarter (24%) of all citizenship applications in 2022 compared to 12% in 2016. The increase in citizenship applications from EU nationals since 2016 is likely to reflect people seeking to confirm their status in the UK following the EU referendum and the UK’s exit from the EU.

Ukraine visa schemes

In early 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK government introduced bespoke visa schemes for Ukrainian nationals coming to the UK or extending their stay in the UK.

By the end of 2022, a total of 248,107 applications had been received across both Ukraine visa schemes, of which 208,309 had been granted.

The Ukraine Family Scheme had 77,460 applications and 61,786 grants. The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme had 171,383 applications and 146,603 grants.

There were also 22,661 extensions granted, 7,502 under the Ukraine Family Scheme and 15,159 under the Ukraine Extension Scheme.

Sponsor licencing

UK employers and educational institutions wishing to sponsor international workers or students on sponsored work or study visas must hold a valid Home Office sponsor licence.

At the end of 2022, there were over 57,000 organisations and institutions registered as licensed sponsors for work and study.

Home Office data shows that there were 26,604 decisions on applications for sponsor licences made in 2022, compared to 15,882 in 2021. Of the 26,604 decisions, 19,944 licences were granted (72% higher than the year before) and 6,660 were not granted (including both applications withdrawn and those rejected).

Help with your UK immigration application

If you are looking for support with a UK visa or immigration application, Smith Stone Walters can help. Our team of immigration experts are experienced in preparing and submitting applications across all categories and can walk you through the entire process.

To find out how we can help, please contact us today.

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