The figures show that net migration has fallen by a quarter since 2005 peak from 320,000 to 243,000. While non-EU migration is at its lowest levels since the 1990s which demonstrates that government reforms to curb abuse in the student, family and work routes are having an impact.
We have tightened the rules and, as a result family visas granted were down by almost a third (-31%), while student visas granted were down by over a quarter (-29%) when compared to September 2010 figures.
Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:
Uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion, puts pressure on public services and forces down wages. That’s why our focus remains on controlling migration at sustainable levels.
We are creating a system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants but is tough on those who flout the rules.
The government is working to ensure migrants who come to the UK to contribute to our economy and communities. Earlier this year the government reformed the benefits, healthcare and housing rules to make them among the tightest in Europe. And the new Immigration Act limits the benefits and services illegal immigrants can access and makes it easier to remove those with no right to be here by reducing the number of appeals.
While work is now the most common reason for migrants to come to the UK, where as previously it was study, we continue to see an increase in the number of British citizens in work. Previously, the majority of growth in employment was taken up by foreign nationals. However, in the last year three-quarters of it was accounted for by UK nationals.
Home Office figures
Net non-EU migration was 218,000 in September 2010. We have cut it to 162,000 – down 56,000 under this government.
The UK continues to welcome top global talent to work for British businesses, with sponsored visa applications for skilled workers up 16%. The majority of applications were for work in the following fields; Information and Communication, Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities, Finance and Insurance sectors.
Our reforms have clamped down on student abuse, while still ensuring that we continue to attract the brightest and best students to our world class universities. The figures show this strategy is working with a 5% increase in the number of sponsored student visas applications for universities, with a rise to 8% for Russell Group universities. While applications for the further education sector, where much of the abuse was concentrated, continue to fall, with sponsored applications down by 25%.
There were 2.1 million visitor visa applications received, with just under 2 million visas issued, up 5% compared to the previous year. The largest increases in visitors have been from China, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.