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Net immigration rose by a record 606,000 in the year to December 2022 amid pressure on the government to crack down on rising immigration.
This is an increase from the previous year, when net migrants were 504,000, but an analysis by the Policy Research Center suggests that figure could reach nearly 1 million, with net migrants It was lower than feared by some within the government, amid reports that the number could reach as high as 800,000.
Net migration has surged in recent years from about 270,000 in 2019, despite repeated government promises to reduce the overall number.
Responding to the figures, Rishi Sunak said the numbers were “too high” but added that the government needed to be “sensitive” to the needs of the NHS and the economy over labor shortages.
he told ITV. this morning He hopes the “exact numbers” will “depend on the state of the economy and public services.”
“We have to be responsive to the needs of the NHS and the economy, but fundamentally the numbers are too high and I’m trying to get the numbers down,” he continued.
Mr Sunak said the latest measures announced by the home secretary to crack down on student visa holders bringing dependents to the UK are “nearly the largest measure ever announced to reduce levels of immigration”. claimed to be.
“What we have seen in the last few years is that the number of dependents has just skyrocketed, with almost 150,000 dependents of people studying here coming here. I am saying that from now on, such things will not be allowed.”
“The main driver of the increase is people coming to the UK from non-EU countries for work and study,” said Jay Lindop, director of the Center for International Migration at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), who released the latest immigration statistics. Stated. And for humanitarian purposes, including those arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong. ”
Lindop added that there has been a “sudden increase in arriving students” since coronavirus restrictions were lifted, but “recent data suggests that students who arrived in 2021 are now out of the country. I do,” he added.
“Evidence also suggests that migration has slowed in recent months, potentially indicating the transitory nature of these events,” he continued.
The number of non-EU nationals arriving in the UK to study in the UK fell last year from 47% in 2021 to 39% in 2022, but the number of people arriving in the UK via humanitarian routes such as the Ukraine Plan increased from 9% to 19%. same period.
The total number of long-term migrants in 2022 is estimated to be about 1.2 million, with 557,000 migrants. The majority of arrivals are non-EU nationals, accounting for 925,000 of the total, followed by EU nationals at 151,000 and British nationals at 88,000.
For the first time, the ONS includes asylum seekers in its estimates, with one in 12 non-EU migrants arriving in the UK seeking asylum, totaling around 76,000 in 2022.
In recent weeks, the government has stepped up pressure to crack down on legal immigration, alongside plans to reduce illegal immigration by preventing people from crossing the English Channel in small boats.
Earlier this week, the Home Secretary announced a crackdown on student visas to reduce entry numbers ahead of expected record immigration figures.
Mr Braverman said foreign students in all postgraduate courses, including master’s, would be barred from bringing dependents to the UK unless they were pursuing a PhD or similar postgraduate studies degree. Stated.
Under current regulations, only students enrolled in full-time postgraduate courses of nine months or longer can bring their partners and family members, including children under the age of 18, to the UK.
Braverman also plans to revoke the right of international students to switch to work visas while they are in school, out of concern that some may be taking advantage of the scheme.
“The UK has a proud history of providing protection through safe and legal routes to those who truly need it, with over 100,000 people arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong last year,” a Home Office spokesperson said in a statement. We accepted more people,” he said.
“At the same time, there has also been an increase in the use of various visa routes, including an unprecedented increase in the number of dependents bringing students into the country. This has naturally contributed to higher levels of net migration. increase.”
They added that the new announcement on student visas is “a government effort to reduce immigration by removing the right of most international students to bring their families, while continuing to benefit from the skills and resources our economy needs.” It’s the toughest measure ever,” he added.
“We will stop boats and manage borders, prioritizing tackling abuses and preventing dangerous and illegal border crossings while continuing to reduce overall migration,” they continued.
This story is being updated.