The number of people moving to Britain from outside the European Union is now at its highest level on record, official figures revealed today.
Some 379,000 people came to the UK from non-EU countries, according to the latest Office for National Statistics estimates for the year to September 2019.
At the same time there has been a year-on-year rise in estimated non-EU net migration from 26,000 to 250,000 – which is at its highest level since 2004.
The number of non-EU citizens leaving Britain over the same period has remained broadly stable for about six years now and is now at 129,000.
While arrivals from the EU have fallen since the Brexit vote in June 2016, the number of people coming to Britain from outside the bloc has gradually increased.
Non-EU net migration has gradually increased since 2013 to 250,000, which is the highest level since 2004
Non-EU net migration has risen since 2013, while EU net migration has decreased since 2016
The net migration figures, which looked at people coming to the UK with the intention to stay for 12 months or more, were published by the ONS this morning.
The data showed net migration from non-EU countries hit 250,000 – the highest level since 2004 and up from 224,000 in September 2018.
Meanwhile EU net migration stood at 64,000, broadly similar to the 57,000 recorded a year earlier.
The figures are classed as experimental estimates after the ONS admitted last year it had been underestimating some EU net migration data since 2016.
They were released as a new ‘points-based’ system announced last week is set to end EU free movement rights and make it virtually impossible for low-skilled workers to come to the UK from abroad.
The number of people moving to the UK long-term from non-EU countries is at its highest level on record. Pictured: File photo of shoppers on Oxford Street in London
Long-term immigration, emigration and net migration have stayed mostly stable since 2016
Skilled workers will need to be sponsored by an employer, speak English and meet a skills test, as well as meeting a ‘minimum salary threshold’ of £25,600, although a lower salary may be accepted in some cases.
Under the Home Office reforms top priority will be given to those with ‘the highest skills and the greatest talents’, like scientists, engineers and academics, who may not need a job offer to be allowed in.
The system will allocate extra points to applicants who intend to work in an area where there are labour shortages – meaning the Government could act to bring in low-skilled workers if necessary.
Speaking about the figures today, Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, said: ‘While long-term net migration, immigration and emigration have remained broadly stable since the end of 2016, different trends have emerged.
EU net migration has fallen since 2016, but more EU citizens move to the UK than leave the UK
This graph shows the fall in EU net migration since 2016 was a trend seen among all EU groups
Home Secretary Priti Patel at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London yesterday
‘EU net migration has fallen, while non-EU net migration has gradually increased since 2013 and is now at the highest level since 2004. Since 2016, immigration for work has decreased because of fewer EU citizens arriving for a job.
‘Meanwhile, immigration for study has gone up and is now the main reason for migration. This is driven by more non-EU students arriving, specifically Chinese and Indian.’
Sophie Wingfield, head of policy and public affairs at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: ‘More businesses are looking to hire staff since the election, and 71 per cent of them have little or no spare capacity in their workforce.
‘The major challenge is that not enough people are available to fill these roles. The fact that we now have the fewest EU citizens arriving to work in the UK since 2004 will only make this problem worse.’