Record numbers of non-EU migrants arrive in UK

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The number of people moving to the UK long-term from countries outside of the EU is at its highest level on record, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The latest estimates suggested that in the year up to September 2019, immigration from non-EU countries reached 379,000 – the highest since records began 45 years ago.

Net migration – the balance between the number of people entering and leaving the country – sits at 250,000, which is its highest since 2004.

Jay Lindop from the ONS said immigration for study is now the main reason for migration.

Just over half of those arriving were international students, compared to an estimated 27 per cent coming to the UK to work.

Meanwhile, EU net migration stood at 64,000, slightly higher than the 57,000 recorded a year earlier.

Overall net migration in the year to September stood at 240,000, broadly similar to the 247,000 recorded a year earlier. 

The findings have prompted questions over how the government’s plans for a new points-based immigration system will affect numbers.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the “more restrictive” policy means it should “in theory significantly reduce EU immigration in the coming years”.

But she added that migration levels are “notoriously difficult to predict”.

The number of refugees granted asylum in the last year has also increased, now at its highest level since 2003.

Humanitarian protection, such as asylum, was granted to 20,703 people in the year to December, up 30 per cent on the previous year 

Andy Hewett, from the Refugee Council, welcomed news that more people were being granted asylum but criticised the length of time it takes for applicants to find out their fate.

He said: “It is unacceptable that in modern Britain so many human beings are being forced to survive with such a basic lack of dignity.”

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