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25 November 2022

How net migration to the UK has hit record levels

An estimated 509,000 non-EU nationals came to the UK in the year ending June 2022, three times as many as the previous year.

By Saywah Mahmood

UK net migration hit a record 504,000 in the year to June 2022 according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics. This was an increase of 331,000 compared with the year ending June 2021.

This was mainly driven by the net migration of non-EU nationals. This was estimated to be at 509,000, more than three times as much as the previous year. Migration of people from the EU was -51,000 (meaning more left than arrived), a decrease of 63,000 compared with the year ending June 2022.

People arriving on study visas accounted for the biggest proportion of immigrants, at 277,000. This is nearly double the figure of 143,000 in the year ending June 2021. The increase in international students may have been partly due to a new graduate visa scheme that allows students to apply to work in the UK for up to three years after completing their studies. 

However, previous ONS research has shown that many students leave at the end of their studies. In the academic year ending in 2019, 61 per cent of non-EU students left at the end of their study visa.

The rise in net migration also has been driven by many other factors, such as the arrival of Ukrainians, Afghans and Hong Kongers under government schemes. Home Office figures show that 89,000 Ukrainians, 76,000 Hong Kongers and 21,000 Afghans or British people returning from Afghanistan under various government schemes arrived in the year ending June 2022.

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Additionally, asylum applications are at their highest for 32 years. Data from the Home Office shows that in the third quarter of 2022 nearly 100,000 people were waiting more than six months to have their initial claims processed.

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[See also: Quietly, our Brexit government is learning to love immigration – just not migrants]

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