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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-september-2018/summary-of-latest-statistics
We welcome your feedback
The content and format of the quarterly release and associated data tables are currently being reviewed. This means the release may be subject to change in the future. If you have any comments or suggestions for the development of this report, please provide feedback by emailing MigrationStatsEnquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk. Please include the words ‘PUBLICATION FEEDBACK’ in the subject of your email.
See section 6 of the ‘About this release’ section for more details.
1. How many people come to the UK each year?
There were 140.9 million passenger arrivals in the year ending September 2018 (including returning UK residents), an increase of 4.6 million (or 3%) compared to the previous year and a record number. There were increases in arrivals from:
- British, other EEA and Swiss nationals (up 2.7 million (or 2%) to 120.1 million); data from the year ending June 2018 (the latest available) suggests that around one-third were EEA and Swiss nationals
- non-EEA nationals (up 1.8 million (or 10%) to 20.8 million)
The majority of non-EEA nationals do not require a visa to visit or transit the UK; although they do still require a visa to come for other reasons.
There were over 2.8 million visas granted in the year ending September 2018, an increase of 167,490 (or 6%) compared with the previous year, continuing the upward trend seen over the last decade. The latest increase was driven mainly by increases in:
- Visitor visas granted, up 120,318 (or 6%) to 2.2 million
- Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas granted, up 15,432 (or 7%) to 239,595
Of the 2.8 million visas granted, over three-quarters were to visit, 8% were to study and 6% to work.
2. Why do people come to the UK?
In the year ending September 2018, there were 2.5 million applications for Visitor visas, a 6% increase on the previous year.
Over the same period, there were 2.2 million Visitor visas granted (including dependants), an increase of 6% to the highest level on record. Indian nationals saw the largest increase, up 41,224 (or 10%), to 468,923.
Chinese and Indian nationals alone accounted for just under half of all Visit visas granted.
In the calendar year 2017 (latest available data by purpose of journey), the number of non-EEA visitor arrivals increased by 3.1 million (or 30%), to 13.2 million. This was the highest number of arrivals on record, and the peak of a general upward trend since 2009.
There were 171,679 work-related visas granted (including dependants) in the year ending September 2018, 7,405 (or 5%), more than the previous year. This was the highest level since the year ending June 2009, around the period when the points-based system (PBS) for work was rolled out.
The increase is largely accounted for by the rise in Tier 2 (Skilled) work visas granted, an increase of 6,173 (or 7%) compared with the previous year. In particular there were increases in grants to Indian nationals (up 2,266), who accounted for 55% of all Tier 2 visas granted.
Over the same period, there were 56,541 certificates of sponsorship applications for Tier 2 (Skilled) work, an increase of 1,841. This was accounted for by a 2,777 (or 45%) increase in the Human health and social work activities sector to 8,907, which is likely related to the removal of doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 cap.
In the year ending September 2018, there were 239,595 Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas granted (including dependants), a 7% increase on the previous year, and the highest level since 2011.
There were notable increases in the number of Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas granted to Chinese nationals (up 12% to 98,814) and Indian nationals (up 33% to 18,735). Chinese and Indian nationals together accounted for just under half (41% and 8% respectively) of all Tier 4 visas granted.
Over the same period, the number of Sponsored study visa applications (main applicants) rose 8% to 228,725. This was driven by increases in applications for the Higher education (university) sector, which increased by 9% to 194,152, the highest level on record. The Higher education (HE) sector accounted for 85% of all sponsored visa applications.
There were 147,865 visas granted for family reasons in the year ending September 2018, 14% more than in the previous year. This included:
- 44,700 visas for family-related reasons (19% higher than the previous year), driven by increases in grants to Pakistani nationals (up 1,895 to 8,142) and Indian nationals (up 881 to 3,574)
- 70,038 dependants of people coming to the UK on other types of visas (excluding Visitor visas), up 6%
- 33,127 EEA Family permits (up 27%), a return to levels seen in 2016 following falls in the second and third quarters in 2017; the increase was driven by a rise in grants for EEA Family permits to Indian nationals (up 4,245 to 8,360)
For further details see ʻWhy do people come to the UK? (4) For family reasons’ and the data tables.
3. How many people do we grant asylum or protection to?
There were 27,966 asylum applications in the UK from main applicants in the year ending 2018, 4% higher than the previous year. However, this remains lower than levels seen in 2015 and 2016 during the European migration crisis. Over the same period, applications to the EU fell by 16%.
In the year ending September 2018, the UK issued 15,170 grants of asylum, alternative forms of protection and resettlement (42%, or 6,394, of which were children). This was a fall of 3% compared with the previous year. This comprised:
- 6,904 grants of asylum (down 1,250, or 15%), driven predominantly by falls in grants to Eritrean (down 988), Iranian (down 560) and Sudanese (down 458) nationals
- 2,272 grants of an alternative form of protection (more than doubled), driven predominantly by an increase in grants of humanitarian protection to Libyan nationals (up 742)
- 5,994 people provided protection under resettlement schemes (down 6%)
The Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) accounted for three-quarters (4,567) of those resettled in the UK in the year ending September 2018. Since it began in 2014, 13,961 people have now been resettled under the scheme. A further 663 were resettled under the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) over the last year.
Additionally, 6,007 Family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK (up 18%).
For further details see ʻHow many people do we grant asylum or protection to?’ and the data tables.
As part of this release, the Home Office published ‘Experimental statistics: asylum claims on the basis of sexual orientation’. These statistics are published annually, with the next planned update in August 2019.
4. How many people continue their stay in the UK?
4.1 Extension of temporary stay in the UK
There were 268,004 decisions on applications for extension of temporary stay (including dependants) in the year ending September 2018, 22% more than in the previous year. This was primarily due to increases in those granted extensions for family reasons, which likely reflect the change to the family Immigration Rules requiring individuals to obtain extensions every 2.5 years.
Of these, 242,698 were grants of extensions of temporary stay, 21% more than the previous year, representing a grant rate of 91%.
There were 91,209 decisions on applications for settlement in the UK in the year ending September 2018, 41% more than in the previous year. Of these decisions, 95% resulted in a grant and the number granted settlement was 42% more than in the previous year.
4.3 EEA nationals and their family members
In the year ending September 2018, there were 86,384 registration certificates and registration cards issued, 29% less than the previous year. This fall followed the sharp increases seen in the period immediately following the referendum on membership of the EU in June 2016. There was a 46% reduction in registration certificates issued to EU nationals (down 38,085 to 44,403) and a smaller 6% fall in registration documents issued to non-EU nationals (down 2,389 to 41,981).
There were 102,012 documents certifying permanent residence and permanent residence cards issued in the year ending September 2018, 39% less than the previous year.
Following the EU referendum, the number of documents issued to EU nationals increased significantly to a peak of 168,413 in the year ending December 2017. The fall in the most recent period continues a downward trend, but still remains higher than levels seen before the EU referendum.
There were 148,737 applications for British citizenship in the year ending September 2018, 8% more than in the previous year.
In the year ending September 2018, applications for citizenship made by EU nationals increased by 32% to 43,545. EU nationals now account for 29% of all citizenship applications, compared with 11% in the year ending September 2016.
Applications made by non-EU nationals were broadly stable in the most recent year at 105,192, following falls in the previous 2 years.
5. How many people are detained or returned?
5.1 Immigration detention
At the end of September 2018, there were 2,049 people held in the detention estate, a fall of 41% compared with the same date 12 months earlier to the lowest level since comparable records began in 2009. The fall coincides with the introduction of the new Immigration Bail in Schedule 10 of the Immigration Bill 2016 (15 January 2018), and changes across the immigration system following Windrush.
In the year ending September 2018, 25,061 individuals entered the detention estate, down 9% compared with the previous year, to the lowest level since comparable record began in 2009.
Over the same period, 26,440 left the detention estate (down 5%). Two-thirds of these were detained for less than 29 days, and 4% were detained for more than 6 months. The Home Office would usually only detain someone for more than 6 months if they are a foreign national offender (FNO) or if they claim asylum while in detention.
For the first time, this release includes data on the number of deaths in detention and absconds from the detention estate. These data will be reported on an annual basis.
In 2017, 4 people died in the detention estate while being held solely under immigration powers. This does not include those who died while being detained solely under immigration powers in prison, or after leaving detention.
In 2017, 3 people absconded while being detained solely under immigration powers in detention. This does not include those who absconded from prisons.
The total number of enforced returns from the UK decreased by 18% to 10,190 in the year ending September 2018, compared with 12,380 in the previous year. The fall coincides with changes across the immigration system following Windrush and was driven by falls in:
- enforced returns of people who were in detention prior to their return, which fell by 15% to 8,996, compared with 10,577 in the previous year
- enforced returns for both EU nationals (down 1,197 to 3,957) and non-EU nationals (down 993 to 6,233); EU nationals accounted for 39% of enforced returns throughout the year and the majority (56%) of these were Romanian and Polish nationals, despite falls compared with the previous year
5.3 Review of immigration enforcement data
The Home Office is reviewing the enforcement data that it publishes in order to ensure it provides a comprehensive overview of the detention and returns system. If you have any comments on the statistics currently published in this section and the associated data tables, including information that you find particularly helpful and information that you would like to see published in the future, please send these to MigrationStatsEnquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk.