© Crown copyright 2019
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: email@example.com.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-september-2019/why-do-people-come-to-the-uk-to-work
Data relate to the year ending September 2019 and all comparisons are with the year ending September 2018, unless indicated otherwise. A more detailed annual summary can be found in ‘Immigration statistics, year ending June 2019 second edition’.
This section contains data for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals on:
- Work-related visas, including Skilled (Tier 2) work visas
- Sponsored work visa applications from different economic sectors
1. Immigration for work
There were 189,459 work-related visas granted in the year ending September 2019, 11% higher than the previous year, and the highest level since the year ending March 2008, around the time when a new immigration system (also known as ‘the points-based system’ (PBS)) was first introduced. The majority (64%) of the increase in the latest year was driven by Skilled (Tier 2) work visas, which increased by 12% to 111,035. The Tier 2 category accounts for 59% of work-related visas granted.
There were also increases in Youth mobility and temporary worker (Tier 5) visas granted, up 7% to 43,636; in the High value (Tier 1) category, up 14% to 5,817; and in non-PBS work categories, up 10% to 28,971.
Table 1: Work-related visas granted, by visa type
|Visa type||Year ending September 2018||Year ending September 2019||Change||Percentage change|
|Skilled (Tier 2)||99,484||111,035||+11,551||+12%|
|Youth mobility and temporary workers (Tier 5)||40,624||43,636||+3,012||+7%|
|High value (Tier 1)||5,106||5,817||+711||+14%|
- The ‘Non-PBS work’ category includes routes such as European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) businessperson, domestic workers in private households, UK Ancestry visas and pre-PBS routes that are now closed.
According to Labour Force Survey estimates from July to September 2019 published in the ONS UK labour market: November 2019 release, there were 2.24 million EU nationals working in the UK, 6,000 more than a year earlier. Non-UK nationals from the EU working in the UK have generally increased, reflecting the admission of Poland and other East European countries to the EU in 2004. However, the series has been broadly flat since the latter half of 2016. At the same time there were 1.35 million non-EU nationals, 116,000 more than a year earlier and a record high. Since January to March 2009, the number of non-UK nationals from outside the EU working in the UK has been broadly flat, although there has been a slight increase since early 2018. There were 29.21 million UK nationals in employment, 182,000 more than a year earlier and also a record high.
1.1 Skilled (Tier 2) Work
There was a 12% increase in Tier 2 work visas granted (to 111,035) in the year ending September 2019, driven by a 52% rise in the ‘Tier 2 – General’ category to 33,622, which has been rising steadily since July 2018 when doctors and nurses were removed from the Tier 2 visa cap.
There was also a 43% rise in the ‘Tier 2: Dependant’ category (to 24,251) and a 12% fall in the ‘Tier 2: Intra-company transfer (ICT) long term’ category (to 52,271).
Indian nationals account for over half (51%) of all Tier 2 visas granted. However, in the latest year there were also notable increases in grants for nationals of the Philippines (up 1,998 or 57%), Nigeria (up 1,446 or 71%), India (up 1,105 or 2%) and Egypt (up 1,062 or 76%).
Table 2: Top 51 nationalities granted Skilled (Tier 2) Work visas
|Nationality||Year ending September 2018||Year ending September 2019||Change||Percentage change|
- Top 5 nationalities in the most recent year.
- ‘Other nationalities’ includes those that do not feature in the top 5 in the latest year.
In the year ending September 2019, there were 63,510 certificates of sponsorship applications for Skilled (Tier 2) work, a 12% increase of 6,969. This included a 72% increase in applications in the ‘Human health and social work activities’ sector, up 6,441 to 15,348, which is likely related to the removal of doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 cap.
Just five sectors accounted for almost 9 in 10 (87%) Tier 2 work visa applications:
- Information and communication (31%)
- Human health and social work activities (24%)
- Professional, scientific and technical activities (16%)
- Financial and insurance activities (10%)
- Education (6%)
1.2 Other work-related visas
In the year ending September 2019, there was a 14% increase in High value (Tier 1) visas to 5,817. This was driven by an 18% increase in ‘Entrepreneurs’ (up 529 to 3,543) and a 40% increase in ‘Exceptional talent’ visas (up 285 to 1,000).
Youth mobility and temporary worker (Tier 5) visas granted in the latest year increased by 7% (3,012) to 43,636 in the year ending September 2019. The ‘Youth mobility’ route accounts for almost half (47%) of Tier 5 visas granted, and this number has remained broadly stable since 2009. More than 4 in 5 (81%) ‘Youth mobility’ visas were granted to nationals of three countries – Australia (48%), New Zealand (18%) and Canada (16%).
‘Temporary work’ visas granted increased by 14% in the latest year to 23,131. This was due to the introduction of the temporary ‘Seasonal workers’ route, a new category for those on the seasonal workers pilot scheme, which opened in March 2019 and has accounted for 2,460 visas since then until the end of September. Ukrainian nationals account for 90% of those on the seasonal workers pilot, leading to more than a sevenfold increase of Tier 5 grants to Ukrainian nationals, from 341 to 2,591.
Figure 1: Work-related visas granted by visa type2, years ending September 2010 to September 2019
- ‘Tier 1 (closed routes)’ includes the ‘Tier 1 – General’, ‘Tier 1 – Post study’, ‘Tier 1 – Entrepreneur’, and ‘Tier 1 – Graduate entrepreneur’ categories. The General and Post study categories were closed to new entrants following operational evidence that these routes were not working as intended. These routes are not included in the ‘Tier 1 (High value)’ category in the chart.
- Non-PBS visas are not included in the chart.
2. About these statistics
The statistics in this section provide an indication of the number of people who have an intention to enter the UK for work reasons. This includes both highly-skilled non-EEA workers, investors and entrepreneurs, temporary workers, and those employed in sports, the arts and other sectors.
Entry clearance visas allow an individual to enter and stay in the UK within the period for which the visa is valid. EEA nationals do not require a visa to enter the UK.
Data in this section refer to the number of Entry clearance visas granted for work reasons within the period. If an individual was granted a visa more than once in a given period, this has been counted as multiple grants in the statistics. If an individual entered the UK multiple times within the period for which a visa was valid, this has been counted as one grant in the visa statistics.
The data do not show whether, or when, an individual arrived in the UK, what they did on arrival to the UK, or how long they stayed in the UK.
Year-on-year comparisons of the number of decisions can be affected by quarterly fluctuations in the data. These fluctuations can be examined in the quarterly data available in the published tables.
2.1 Tier 1 (High value)
Tier 1 of the PBS was phased in between February and June 2008 as a general route. However, from 2010, Tier 1 has focused on providing visas for ‘high value’ migrants only, including the exceptional talent route, investors and entrepreneurs.
2.2 Tier 2 (Skilled)
Tier 2 of the PBS is the primary route for economic migration to the UK. Broadly, the route is for skilled workers from outside the EEA who have an offer of employment in the UK in an occupation classed as skilled to NQF6 or above.
Tier 2 was implemented in November 2008. There are four routes within Tier 2: General, Intra-company transfer (ICT), Minister of religion and Sportsperson.
2.3 Tier 5 (Youth mobility and temporary workers)
Tier 5 (Youth mobility and temporary workers) was implemented in November 2008 to provide a route for those coming to the UK for primarily non-economic reasons.
The Tier 5 Seasonal workers route was open to new applicants from January 2019.
2.4 Certificate of sponsorship (CoS)
Applicants for visas (and extensions) for Tier 2 (Skilled) work and for Tier 5 (Youth mobility and temporary worker) must obtain a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from a registered employer. Any organisation that wishes to sponsor a worker must be registered on the Home Office’s Register of Sponsors.
Tier 2 (General) is currently subject to a cap on the number of CoSs that can be allocated to employers for newly-hired employees earning less than £159,600 per year, or for dependants of Tier 4 Students who wish to switch into the Tier 2 ‘General’ category. The sponsor must apply for an allocation for these ‘restricted’ CoSs on a case-by-case basis to be considered at a monthly allocation meeting held by the Home Office. Details of the outcome of the monthly allocation process are published by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). On 15 June 2018, the government announced that doctors and nurses are to be excluded from the cap on Skilled worker visas.
ONS publishes long-term international migration (LTIM) estimates in its ‘Migration Statistics Quarterly Report’. The report includes estimates from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) on the number of people coming to the UK with the intention of staying for 12 months or more for work, study, family and other reasons. Estimates are available for EU, non-EU and British nationals. IPS data are not directly comparable with Home Office visa data for several reasons. See the ONS article ‘Comparing sources of international migration statistics’ for details.
3. Data tables
Data on immigration for work can be found in the following tables:
- Sponsorship summary tables
- Detailed sponsorship datasets
- Entry clearance visas summary tables
- Detailed Entry clearance visas datasets
- Admissions tables
- Extensions summary tables
- Detailed Extensions datasets
- Settlement tables
- European Economic Area (EEA) tables
We welcome your feedback
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 7 of the ‘About this release’ section for more details.