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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-october-to-december-2016/about-the-figures
This section, ‘About the figures’, provides extra information designed to assist in the interpretation of this release.
The user Guide additionally provides more detailed information including definitions used, other sources of information, how figures are compiled, data quality, and issues arising from figures based on data sourced from an administrative database. The user guide is structured in the same way as ‘About the figures’.
For further information on changes to immigration legislation affecting the statistics, see the Policy and Legislative Changes Timeline published alongside the user guide.
1. Work, Study and Family
There is a range of measures that can be used to monitor those who are subject to immigration control and are coming to the UK for work, study or family reasons. These include:
- grants of visas for entry clearance, providing information on those intending to come
- admissions data, providing information on migrants at the border
- estimates on non-European Union (EU) immigration from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) on migrants intending to stay for at least a year
- extensions of stay for work, study or family purposes providing information on case work relating to migrants in-country
- settlement data, providing information on the number of people who are granted or refused permission to stay permanently (settlement), which is an indicator of longer-term migration
- data from the ‘Statistics on changes in migrants’ visa and leave status analysis: 2015’ (formerly known as the ‘Migrant journey’) on outcomes (5 years later) of those receiving work, study or family visas
Trends in extensions and in permission to stay permanently will depend on admissions and immigration in previous years.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures on long-term immigration relate to non-EU nationals whilst other figures (visas, admissions, extensions, permission to stay permanently) relate to non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals.
The various statistics and research presented can appear to give different pictures of immigration for work, study or family. Often this is because the latest data for different measures cover different time periods. In addition, they also count different aspects of the immigration process, with some showing intentions or permissions, while others show actual events. The entry clearance visas section of the user guide includes a discussion on the differences between the various data sources presented on immigration.
Data include dependants unless stated otherwise.
IPS and LTIM figures for 2015 are final. Figures for 2016 are provisional.
Figures for admissions and immigration are estimates rounded to the nearest thousand. Figures for immigration in the work, study and family sections relate to non-EU nationals whilst other figures (visas, admissions, extensions) relate to non-EEA nationals.
Work: Recent falls for work-related visas are likely to be partly due to policy changes that came into effect from 2011. The Post-study work route was closed to new applications on 6 April 2012 but existing applications continued to be processed after this date. From December 2010, Tier 1 General was closed to applicants who are outside the UK and it was closed to migrants who were already in the UK, in most immigration categories, from April 2011. Details of these policy changes, together with information on changes to immigration legislation affecting the statistics, can be found in the [Policy and Legislative Changes Timeline](https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/policy-and-legislative-changes-affecting-migration-to-the-uk-timeline published alongside the user guide. Following the accession of Croatia to the EU on 1 July 2013, similar transitional restrictions to those that previously related to Bulgarians and Romanians were placed on Croatians working in the UK. A link to more information on these restrictions can be found in the user guide.
Study: Data for visas and admissions exclude Short-term study (previously described as ‘student visitor’) unless stated otherwise. The Short-term study category provides for persons who wish to come to the UK and undertake a short period of study. Visa data on Short-term study include those who applied on the ‘short-term student’ endorsement prior to the introduction of the ‘student visitor’ endorsement in September 2007. For admissions, short-term students may have been classified as visitors prior to September 2007; for consistency and comparability over time they are excluded from study-related totals.
Family: The numbers of applications and decisions made reflect changes in levels of immigration over time, as well as policy and legislative changes, including changes to immigration legislation. The availability and allocation of resources within UK Visas and Immigration can also affect the number of decisions on applications. In July 2012, changes were made to the Family Immigration Rules which apply to applications made on or after 9 July 2012. It is not possible to separately identify applications made under the previous and new rules. Spouse, partner and child applications which fell for refusal solely because they did not meet the new minimum income threshold had been subject to a hold on decision-making following a High Court judgment in July 2013. On 11 July 2014, the Court of Appeal upheld the lawfulness of the minimum income threshold for spouses/partners and children applying in the family route. From 28 July 2014, the 4,000 individuals whose applications (visa or extension) were then on hold pending the Court of Appeal judgment received a decision.
More detailed analysis on family visas and extensions and additional tables for years ending June were included in the Immigration Statistics July to September 2014 release to assist users in understanding the trends in family data before and after the changes to the Immigration Rules in July 2012. Updates of the additional tables and analysis were included in the Immigration Statistics April to June 2015 release.
2. Visas and sponsorship
Before travelling to the UK, a person may be required to apply for and be granted an entry clearance visa, depending on their nationality, purpose of visit and intended length of stay. On arrival at UK ports, or UK border controls in France and Belgium (often termed ‘juxtaposed’ controls), all individuals have to satisfy a Border Force officer that they have the right to enter the country before being admitted to the UK.
The data in this section include dependants and exclude those visiting the UK or in transit, unless stated otherwise.
Data for visas prior to 2005 are not comparable. All figures for 2016 are provisional.
EEA nationals do not require an entry clearance visa. In 2016, 301 visas were recorded as granted to EEA nationals, with 283 of these recorded as nationals of Cyprus, but most likely these people are from the area not under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus. The ‘Visas’ data tables and section of the user guide provide more information.
All people admitted are subject to immigration control except British, EEA and Swiss nationals.
Most data in this briefing are rounded to 3 significant figures. All data include dependants.
For arriving passengers subject to immigration control, who have previously obtained leave to enter, the journey is recorded as ‘returning after a temporary absence abroad’ within the ‘other’ category. Due to the volume of passengers arriving at Heathrow and Gatwick, some data are estimated from monthly samples.
Some major components of the total (visitors, passengers returning and passengers in transit) largely reflect trends in international tourism. The number of other admissions (for example, for work, study or family reasons) are likely to reflect trends in international migration and related policy and legislative changes affecting those subject to immigration control, such as changes in immigration legislation, enlargement of the EU, and the introduction of the Points-Based System for work and study in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Total passenger admissions data are available up to 2016 (Table ad 01 q); data on the purpose of journey (e.g. visit, work, study) is available to the year end June 2016 (Tables ad 02, ad 02 q, and for individual nationalities data are available up to the end of 2015 Tables ad 03,ad 03 w, ad 03 s, ad 03 f, and ad 03 o).
Further information on visitors to the UK is published by the ONS in ‘Overseas Travel and Tourism: Nov 2016’.
The refusal of entry to passengers relates to non-asylum cases dealt with at ports of entry.
This briefing excludes numbers of dependants, unless stated otherwise. One person (the main applicant) can apply for asylum on behalf of themselves and others (dependants).
All data from 2015 onwards are provisional, except ‘as at’ data on asylum support.
5. Extensions of stay
EEA nationals are not subject to immigration control so are not included in these figures. When a country joins the EU its nationals are no longer included in these figures, for example Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are not included from 2007 onwards.
The data in this briefing include dependants, except where stated otherwise, and take account of the outcomes of reconsiderations and appeals. All figures from 2015 onwards are provisional.
The numbers of applications and decisions made reflect changes over time in levels of immigration, as well as policy and legislative changes, including changes to immigration legislation and changes to the length of leave granted (either for initial entry clearance or for subsequent extensions) or to the rules on whether individuals can switch categories. The availability and allocation of resources within the Home Office can also affect the number of decisions.
Data on migration applications decided within published standards, and the cost per decision for all permanent and temporary migration applications, are published as Official Statistics by the Home Office as part of their performance data. Details are given on the GOV.UK website, Migration transparency data.
A short statistical article on ‘Extensions of stay by previous category’ was published alongside the Immigration Statistics April to June 2013 release to provide further detailed information. Updates of the more detailed tables provided in the article are included in the Extensions tables and were summarised in the Immigration Statistics January to March 2016 release Extensions topic.
EEA nationals are not subject to immigration control and so are not included in these figures. When a country joins the EU its nationals are no longer included in these figures, for example Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are not included from 2007 onwards.
The numbers of applications and decisions about permission to stay permanently reflect changes over time in levels of those entering the country, as well as policy and legislative changes. These may affect the number of people potentially eligible to permanently stay. The availability and allocation of resources within the Home Office can also affect the number of decisions.
All the figures include spouses and dependants, unless stated otherwise. All data from 2015 onwards are provisional.
From 2003 onwards, dependants of EEA and Swiss nationals in confirmed relationships may be shown separately in figures on issues and refusals of permanent residence documents, rather than in figures about settlement. Figures on issues and refusals of permanent residence documentation to EEA nationals and their family members are shown in EEA table ee 02. Further information can be found in the Family topic.
Data on migration applications decided within published standards, and the cost per decision for all permanent and temporary migration applications are published as Official Statistics by the Home Office as part of their immigration performance data. Details are given on the Migration transparency data webpage.
‘Statistics on changes in migrants’ visa and leave status: 2015’ analysis (formerly known as the ‘Migrant journey’) is able to look at those who apply for settlement or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and which visas they used to arrive at that point. This analysis shows that of those granted settlement in the 2015 cohort, around two-fifths (41%) had originally been issued a visa that could potentially directly lead to settlement (family or skilled work) and a further 8% were granted settlement on arrival. A slightly larger proportion (50%) originally entered on a temporary route and later switched into a route that led to permanent settlement, over half of whom had originally entered the UK as students (29% of the total granted settlement in 2015, more than double the proportion in 2009 when this series began).
Source: Home Office, ‘Statistics on changes in migrants’ visa and leave status: 2015’; 15 February 2017.
There are no separate figures for dependants because all applications for citizenship are from individuals treated as applicants in their own right (including those made on the basis of a relationship with an existing British citizen). The data also reflect the outcome of reconsidered decisions. All data from 2015 onwards are provisional.
Citizenship is granted under the British Nationality Act 1981 which came into force on 1 January 1983, subsequently amended by the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
The number of applications and decisions made reflect changes over time in levels of those entering the country, as well as policy and legislative changes, which, for example, may affect the number of people potentially eligible to apply. The availability and allocation of resources within the Home Office can also affect the number of decisions.
Children are those recorded as being under 18 years of age. All data from 2015 onwards are provisional.
The information on detainees held in prison establishments in England and Wales solely under Immigration Act Powers has been supplied by the National Offender Management Service (an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice). It is based on weekly manual returns from individual prisons, which, as with any large-scale manual recording system, is subject to possible error(s) with individual data entry and processing.
As a result of feedback from users, Home Office statisticians have revised the existing terminology and category groupings and following this a number of new categories have been devised. The underlying statistics collected have not been changed as a result of these clarifications.
The aim of these changes were to produce a set of categories and naming that more accurately represent the types of returns taking place in practice. As a result, a number of categories were renamed:
Other verified returns (previously ‘Other confirmed voluntary departures’) relate to persons who it has been established have left or have been identified leaving the UK without formally informing the immigration authorities of their departure. These persons can be identified either at embarkation controls or by a variety of data-matching initiatives.
Since January 2016, the support formerly described as an Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) has been replaced with support provided by the Home Office’s Voluntary Returns Service (VRS). These are referred to in the tables as ‘Assisted returns’. The term ‘Assisted returns’ relates to support provided under AVR up to Q4 2015 and support under VRS from Q1 2016.
Enforced removals from detention include all those who were subject to enforced removal either from detention or up to 2 days after leaving detention. There may be delays with flight arrangements or recording on the case-working system so a two-day lag period allows the Home Office to ensure it includes all returns occurring following a period in detention.
Non-detained enforced removals include all enforced removals taking place more than 2 days after leaving detention, or where there was no period of detention prior to the enforced removal.
Other returns from detention relate to those returns occurring either from detention or up to 2 days after leaving detention AND where it had been established that a person has breached UK immigration laws and/or have no valid leave to remain in the UK. Removal directions may or may not have been set, but the person has notified the Home Office that they wish to make their own arrangements to leave the country and has provided evidence to this effect. The Home Office will have been required to facilitate or monitor the return.
Controlled returns relate to those returns occurring more than 2 days after leaving detention or where there was no period of detention prior to the return AND where it had been established that a person has breached UK immigration laws and/or has no valid leave to remain in the UK. Removal directions may or may not have been set, but the person has notified the Home Office that they wish to make their own arrangements to leave the country and has provided evidence to this effect. The Home Office will have been required to facilitate or monitor the return.
Enforced returns covers enforced removals from detention, non-detained enforced removals and other returns from detention where the Home Office will have been required to facilitate or monitor the return. This new grouping has been created to reflect the likely level of enforcement activity that led to these returns.
In addition, the term ‘return’ has been used extensively in place of removal or departure, where possible, in order to simplify the language used and bring the terminology in line with operational use and international definitions.
Numbers of enforced returns include people deported. Deportations are a subset of returns which are enforced either following a criminal conviction or when it is judged that a person’s removal from the UK is in the public’s interest. A person who has received a deportation order is not allowed to return to the UK, unless the order is cancelled. Most illegal immigrants are removed from the UK under administrative or illegal entry powers and not deported. Published information on those deported from the UK is not separately available.
As the data-matching for the other verified returns are undertaken retrospectively, this means these figures are particularly subject to greater upward revision than would be the case for other categories of departure. In the light of the high use of retrospective data-matching to check departures, figures are reviewed each quarter to decide whether they require revision. Figures for notified returns and other verified returns are revised for 2 consecutive quarters.
All data include dependants, unless stated otherwise, and are provisional from 2015 onwards.