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How do patterns of long-term international migration vary at different times of the year?

A look at seasonal patterns of long-term international migration to and from the UK

The reporting of long-term international migration generally focuses on year-on-year trends. This summary, on the other hand, uses International Passenger Survey (IPS) data to examine seasonal patterns of migration. Key findings show that over the last three years (2009 to 2011):

  • The most common time for migration is during July to September (quarter three).

  • 44% of migrants coming to the UK arrive during quarter three, with the highest proportion (25%) during September. This is due to a peak in arrivals for study.

  • 35% of migrants left the UK during quarter three. This is driven by people migrating for work-related reasons.

The IPS figures in this summary are for 2009 to 20111 and relate to long-term migrants. A long-term migrant is anyone (regardless of nationality) who changes their country of usual residence for 12 months or more so that the country of destination effectively becomes the country of usual residence. This is in line with the United Nations definition of a long-term migrant. This summary also includes Home Office visa data and Department for Work and Pensions data for allocations of National Insurance Numbers (NINo) to adult overseas nationals. These additional data sources allow for a more complete picture of seasonal patterns of migration than would be possible with IPS figures alone.

How do patterns of migration to the UK vary throughout the year?

Of all migrants arriving in the UK (both British and non-British), 44% (704,000) do so during July to September (quarter three), with the highest proportion (25% or 406,000) arriving during September. Of non-British migrants arriving in the UK (in particular those arriving from non-EU countries), 45% (615,000) arrive during quarter three. The majority of non-British migrants arriving during quarter three are aged between 15 and 24 and coming to the UK to study. India was the most common country of last residence for those migrating to the UK in every quarter. Figure 1 shows the main findings of seasonal patterns of long-term migration to the UK. Each segment represents the proportion of migrants arriving in the particular quarter.

Figure 1: Seasonal migration to the UK by quarter and the migrants arriving most frequently during each quarter

Figure 1: Seasonal migration to the UK by quarter and the migrants arriving most frequently during each quarter

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Visa data show that 40% of visas are issued during quarter three (702,395), although a third of work visas (132,845) are issued during quarter two (April to June). Almost a third (30%) of National Insurance Numbers (581,990) are allocated during quarter one (January to March), with 20%, 26% and 24% allocated in the following three quarters. There will be time lags in allocation of NINos following arrival.

How do patterns of migration from the UK vary throughout the year?

Migration from the UK does not show the same seasonal patterns as migration to the UK. In total, 35% of migrants (347,000) leave the UK during quarter three. Comparison of British and non-British migration from the UK shows similar proportions leaving during each quarter. The most common reasons for migrating from the UK are work-related (in particular with a definite job to go to) in all quarters. Australia is the most common country of next residence for migrants leaving in every quarter.

In each quarter, migrants are most frequently single, male, aged 25 to 44, and leaving for work-related reasons. In quarters one, three, and four, migrants tend to be non-EU citizens, but in quarter two they are most frequently citizens of the EU.

Where can I get more information about seasonal migration patterns?

A longer, more detailed report about seasonal patterns of long-term international migration is available in Seasonal Patterns of Long-term International Migration, published on 23 May 2013. You can also email migstatsunit@ons.gov.uk with any migration statistics enquiries.

1IPS data have been used in this summary because the IPS allows for more detailed analysis of the characteristics of international migrants. IPS data have been split by quarter, and three years’ worth of quarterly data combined to create the estimates. This means that the data is un-calibrated, i.e. the data has not been constrained to match the regional distribution of migrants. Therefore, this data may not match other published outputs of Long-Term International Migration. More information on calibration can be found in the report ‘ The use of calibration in estimating international in-migration to UK Countries and the Regions of England’ (43 Kb Pdf)

 

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Categories: Population, Migration, International Migration
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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