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Statistical bulletin: Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, November 2012 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 29 November 2012 Download PDF

Key Figures

  • Latest provisional data show that there was a net flow of 183,000 migrants to the UK in the year ending March 2012, which is significantly lower than the net flow of 242,000 in the year ending March 2011.
  • 536,000 people immigrated to the UK in the year ending March 2012, which is significantly lower than the 578,000 who migrated the previous year. It is the lowest immigration estimate since the year to June 2004 when 528,000 people migrated to the UK.
  • Provisional data show that 353,000 emigrants left the UK in the year ending March 2012. This is higher than the 336,000 who emigrated in the year to March 2011. The increase in emigration is mostly due to more people leaving for a definite job. 127,000 left the UK for a definite job in the year ending March 2012, compared to 108,000 the previous year.
  • There were significant decreases in the net flow of non-EU and British citizens in the year ending March 2012 from the previous year. There were net flows of 185,000 non-EU citizens and -77,000 British citizens, which are lower than the estimates of 215,000 and -50,000 the previous year.
  • There was a significant decrease in the numbers of people arriving to study. 213,000 migrants arrived to study in the year to March 2012; lower than 232,000 the previous year. Decreases have also been seen in the number arriving for work-related reasons at 177,000 in the year to March 2012 compared to 194,000 the previous year.
  • Excluding visitor and transit visas, the total number of visas issued fell 14 per cent to 508,488 in the year ending September 2012 (compared with 593,978 in the previous 12 months), to the lowest 12-monthly total recorded using comparable data available from 2005.
  • In the year to September 2012, there were 210,921 visas issued for the purpose of study (excluding student visitors), a fall of 26 per cent compared with the previous 12 months. 145,604 work-related visas were issued in the year to September 2012, a fall of 4 per cent compared with the previous 12 months.
  • Final figures for 2011 show that annual net migration to the UK was 215,000. The decrease in inflow and the increase in outflow have resulted in lower net migration compared to 2010 when it was 252,000.

Introduction

Welcome to this extended version of Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR). This edition includes provisional estimates of international migration to the year ending March 2012 and further detail available from final Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) estimates for 2011.

The MSQR series brings together statistics on migration that are published quarterly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Provisional estimates of LTIM and from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) are included for the year ending March 2012, to provide the latest estimates available.

There is significant interest in migration statistics both nationally and internationally and there is a need to understand how moves impact on society and the economy. Migration estimates are a fundamental component of ONS’ mid-year population estimates. These are used by central and local government and the health sector for planning and monitoring service delivery, resource allocation and managing the economy. For further information on how ONS migration statistics are used along with information on their fitness for purpose please see Quality and Methodology Information for Long-Term International Migration Releases. (145.2 Kb Pdf)

Accompanying this report is the the ‘Migration Timeline’ product. This publication shows key migration figures since 1964 with additional data and information that provides context to what may have affected international migration at that time. Comments are welcome and will help inform further development of the timeline. If you have any comments please email them to migstatsunit@ons.gov.uk.

This publication includes some changes from previous MSQR publications. DWP’s data on the allocation of National Insurance numbers to overseas nationals are now published annually. They are included in this fuller edition of the MSQR, but future editions will provide updated figures in August.

Confidence intervals have been introduced to accompany estimates based on the International Passenger Survey. Previously, standard error percentages were supplied, but user feedback suggested that confidence intervals were more meaningful and that it would be helpful to have confidence intervals alongside the net migration estimates.

The inclusion of these confidence intervals provides information on the statistical uncertainty of estimates that are based on a sample survey. The sample of passengers included in the International Passenger Survey is subject to random variation (as the sample selected is one of a number of samples that could have been selected). Therefore differences between estimates could be due to a real change in migration patterns or the fact that the sample of passengers interviewed was different by chance.

This publication reports on differences in estimates that have been checked for statistical significance. This is a statistical procedure that examines the variation associated with survey-based estimates and determines if differences are likely to be a real change or could have occurred by chance. More information on the reliability of the IPS can be found in 'International Passenger Survey: Quality Information in Relation to Migration Flows'. (406.5 Kb Pdf)

Guidance on comparing data from different sources can be found in the User Information (147.6 Kb Pdf) and web links are provided at the back of the report for those who wish to access the underlying datasets.

Summary Statistics

The Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) datasets use the UN definition of a long-term international migrant being someone who moves from their country of previous residence for a period of at least a year.

The latest provisional LTIM estimates suggest:

  • Estimated total long-term immigration to the UK in the year to March 2012 was 536,000, a statistically significant difference from 578,000 in the year to March 2011.

  • Estimated total long-term emigration from the UK in the year to March 2012 was 353,000. This compares to 336,000 in the year to March 2011.

  • Estimated net long-term migration to the UK in the year to March 2012 was 183,000, which is significantly lower than the 242, 000 estimated in the year to March 2011.

  • Study remains the most common reason for migrating to the UK since December 2009 at an estimated 213,000 for the year to March 2012.

  • Citizens from non-EU countries continue to be the largest group of migrants to the UK compared to British and the rest of the EU. An estimated 296,000 non-EU citizens arrived to live in the UK in the year to March 2012, which is 55 per cent of all immigrants. There was a significant decrease from the previous year from 215,000 to 185,000 in the net flow of non-EU citizens in the year ending March 2012.

The final LTIM estimates for 2011 show:

  • Estimated net long-term migration to the UK in 2011 was 215,000, this is lower, but not a statistically significant difference from 252,000 in 2010.

  • Study remains the most common reason for migrating to the UK in 2011 at 232,000, similar to the estimate of 238,000 in 2010.

  • Final LTIM figures for 2011 show that immigration to the UK of non-EU citizens was 314,000 in 2011 compared to 322,000 in 2010. Emigration of non-EU citizens increased from 104,000 in 2010 to 110,000 in 2011. This resulted in a decrease in net migration of non-EU citizens from 217,000 in 2010 to 204,000 in 2011.

  • IPS data show that China has reached second place in the top five most common countries of origin. 44,000 people migrated to the UK from China in 2011, of which 40,000 arrived to study. This is a significant increase from the 29,000 migrants from China who arrived in 2010. India remained as the top country of last residence.

  • IPS data show that India has reached joint second place in the top five most common countries of destination for emigrants from the UK. 23,000 people migrated to India in 2011, significantly higher than the 15,000 who migrated to India in 2010. The majority (21,000) were born in India, suggesting that they are returning migrants. Australia remained as the top country of next residence.

Further information on these data is available in Section 5 of this report.

The latest data on applications for visas to live, work and study in the UK, which can also include people intending to stay in the UK for less than a year, show:

  • Excluding visitor and transit visas, the number of visas issued fell to 508,488 in the year ending September 2012, the lowest 12-monthly total recorded using comparable data available from 2005. This was 14 per cent lower than the year ending September 2011 (593,978).

  • In the year ending September 2012, a total of 145,604 work-related visas were issued (a fall of 4 per cent, compared with the year previous 12 months).  There were 210,921 visas issued for the purposes of study (excluding student visitors) in the year to September 2012, a fall of 26 per cent.

(NB Student visitors are allowed to come to the UK for 6 months (or 11 months if they will be studying an English Language course) and cannot extend their stay. Excluding such short term migrants from the study-related visas granted data provides a better comparison with LTIM long-term immigration data).

  • There was a corresponding 29 per cent fall for sponsored student visa applications to 211,001 in the year ending September 2012.  However the change was not uniform with a 1 per cent increase for the university sector (UK-based Higher Education Institutions) and falls of 67 per cent, 76 per cent and 17 per cent respectively for the further education sector (tertiary, further education or other colleges), English language schools and independent schools.

  • 601,000 National Insurance numbers (NINos) were allocated to non-UK nationals in the year to March 2012, a decrease of 15 per cent on the year to March 2011.

  • 169,000 NINos were allocated to EU8 nationals in the year to March 2012, a decrease of 10 per cent on the year to March 2011.

1. What are the latest total figures of international migration?

This section shows the latest available figures from the following sources:

  1. Provisional long-term international migration figures in the year to March 2012.

  2. Final long-term international migration figures 2011.

  3. Entry clearance visas issued by the Home Office up to September 2012.

  4. National insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals up to March 2012.

1.1 Provisional long-term international migration figures (year to March 2012)

The provisional estimate of total long-term international immigration to the UK in the year to March 2012 was 536,000 significantly lower than the estimate of 578,000 in the year to March 2011. (Figure 1.1)

The provisional estimate of total long-term emigration from the UK in the year to March 2012 was 353,000, similar to 336,000 in the year to March 2011 but significantly lower than the year to December 2008, when total emigration from the UK peaked at an estimated at 427,000. (Figure 1.1)

The provisional estimate of net long-term migration to the UK in the year to March 2012 was 183,000 (Figure 1.1). This is significantly lower than the 242,000 in the year to March 2011. This difference has been caused by a lower immigration and a higher emigration estimate than the previous year. The highest recorded figure for net migration was in the year to June 2005 when it reached 260,000.

Figure 1.1: Latest total long-term international migration estimates, UK, 2002–2012 (year to March 2012)

Latest total long-term international migration estimates, UK, 2002–2012 (year to March 2012)
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals

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1.2 Final Estimates of Long-Term International Migration 2011

The figures presented in section 1.1 show the latest available provisional figures, which allow a timely comparison of recent migration patterns on a quarterly basis. However, these are subject to change and final LTIM estimates are considered to provide a more reliable picture of migration and allow the best comparisons over time.  

Figure 1.2: Total annual long-term international migration estimates, UK, 1991–2011

Total annual long-term international migration estimates, UK, 1991–2011
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. The 2001-2007 estimates were revised in November 2009 following changes to source data. Therefore they may not agree with estimates published prior to this date

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Figure 1.2 shows that since 1991:

  • Long-term immigration to the UK has remained relatively stable with some small peaks and falls since 2004 following a steady rise from 1993. Final figures estimate that 566,000 people immigrated to the UK in 2011.

  • Long-term emigration from the UK has been slowly rising since 1995, including a peak of 427,000 in 2008. There was significant decline between 2008 and 2010 when it fell to 339,000, but 2011 data show that this trend has not continued. 351,000 people emigrated from the UK in 2011.

  • Net migration has varied since 1991 showing an increase in 1998 that remained relatively unchanged until 2004 when there was a further increase to 245,000. Since then net migration has fluctuated around 200,000, driven by rises and falls in both emigration and immigration. Latest final LTIM estimates show net migration at 215,000.

A longer time series of annual international migration figures is available from the Migration Timeline. This product shows migration flows from 1964.

1.3 Entry clearance visas

Different nationalities have different visa requirements for entering and staying in the UK:

  • European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals do not require a visa to come to the UK.

  • For over 100 other nationalities, covering three-quarters of the world population, a visa is required for entry to the UK for any purpose or for any length of stay.

  • For all remaining nationalities a visa is normally required for those wanting to come to the UK for over six months, or for work.

Excluding visitor and transit visas, the number of visas issued fell to 508,488 in the year ending September 2012, the lowest 12-monthly total recorded using comparable data available from 2005. This was 14 per cent lower than the year ending September 2011 (593,978).

Most of the 508,488 visas issued were for study (excluding student visitors, 210,921), work-related (145,604), student visitors (66,569) or family–related (42,213). (Figure 3.12)

1.4 National Insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals up to March 2012

601,000 National Insurance numbers (NINos) were allocated to non-UK nationals in the year to March 2012, a decrease of 15 per cent on the year to March 2011.

2. Who is Migrating to and from the UK?

This section contains latest available data of migration to and from the UK by different types of migrants. It includes final 2011 ONS Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) estimates, latest available provisional data on citizenship and National Insurance Number allocations to overseas nationals for the year ending March 2012. This section explores the different patterns in migration flows by different types of migrants that together influence the total patterns in migration flows. It focuses on:

  • British and non-British citizens (that sum to total UK migration flows).

  • EU and non-EU citizens (that sum to total UK migration flows).

  • EU8 citizens (that are a subset of EU migration flows).

  • Flows by marital status.

  • Flows by age and sex.

2.1 British citizens

Provisional long-term international migration estimates by citizenship show that in the year to March 2012 the estimated number of British citizens immigrating long-term to the UK was 73,000. In the year to March 2011 there were 92,000 British citizens immigrating. The decrease is largely driven by a significant fall in those arriving for work-related reasons.

IPS data show that 32,000 British citizens arrived for work-related reasons in the year to March 2012. This is lower than the 47,000 British citizens that migrated for work-related reasons in the year to March 2012.

The estimated number of British citizens emigrating long-term from the UK in the year to March 2012 was 151,000, which is similar to 141,000 in the year to March 2011 (Figure 2.11). However, emigration of British citizens has been steadily increasing and is now significantly higher than a low of 128,000 in the year to June 2010.

Figure 2.11: Long-term international migration estimates of British citizens, UK, 2002–2012

Long-term international migration estimates of British citizens, UK, 2002–2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals

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Final LTIM figures for 2011 show that British immigration was 93,000 in 2010, which compares with the estimate of 78,000 in 2011. British emigration was 149,000 in 2011, compared to 136,000 in 2010. Separately, these estimates do not show significant changes, but do result in a significant decrease in the net flow of British citizens from -43,000 in 2010 to -70,000 in 2011.

Non-British citizens

The estimated number of non-British citizens immigrating long-term to the UK in the year to March 2012 was 462,000, similar to the estimate of 486,000 for the year to March 2011. The estimated number of non-British citizens emigrating long-term from the UK was 202,000, similar to the estimate of 194,000 in the year to March 2011. (Figure 2.12)

Final LTIM estimates for 2011 indicate that 488,000 non-British citizens immigrated long-term to the UK in 2011, compared to 498,000 for 2010. Emigration is estimated to have remained constant, with 202,000 non-British citizens departing in 2011 compared with 203,000 for 2010.

Figure 2.12: Long-term international migration estimates of non-British citizens, UK, 2002 –2012

Long-term international migration estimates of non-British citizens, UK, 2002 –2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals

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2.2 EU citizens

Overall migration of EU citizens to and from the UK has remained unchanged in the latest period. An estimated 166,000 citizens from the EU (excluding British) migrated to the UK in the year ending March 2012, similar to the estimate of 169,000 in the year ending March 2011. Inflows of EU citizens have been similar since mid 2010. The estimated number of EU citizens (excluding British) emigrating from the UK was 90,000 in the year ending March 2012, again similar to the estimate of 92,000 emigrating in the year ending March 2011. (Figure 2.21)

Figure 2.21 Long-term international migration estimates of EU citizens (excluding British) UK, 2002–2012

Long-term international migration estimates of EU citizens (excluding British) UK, 2002–2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals

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Final LTIM figures show that immigration has remained steady, with 176,000 EU citizens migrating to the UK in 2010, and 174,000 migrating in 2011. Emigration of EU citizens was 92,000 in 2011, similar to 99,000 in 2010.

In May 2004, eight central and eastern European countries joined the EU with rights to work in the UK. The estimated number of citizens of the EU8 countries immigrating long-term to the UK in the year ending March 2012 was 70,000, not a statistically significant difference from the estimate of 82,000 in the year to March 2011 (note that the small number of EU8 migrants in the IPS sample means that a change must be large for it to have sufficient certainty to be regarded as statistically significant). The estimated number of EU8 citizens emigrating from the UK in the year to March 2012 was 36,000, similar to the estimate of 37,000 in the year to March 2011. (Figure 2.22)

It should be noted that from May 2011 transitional controls that applied to EU8 citizens seeking work in other EU countries expired (these were never applied in the Irish Republic, Sweden and the UK). This may have had the effect of diverting some EU8 migration flows to other EU countries, such as Germany.

Figure 2.22: Long-term international migration estimates of EU8 citizens, UK, 2004–2012

Long-term international migration estimates of EU8 citizens, UK, 2004–2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals

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Final LTIM figures for 2011 show that 77,000 EU8 citizens migrated to the UK compared with 86,000 in 2010. In terms of emigration, 37,000 left the UK in 2011 the same as the estimated number that left 2010. Hence, net migration of EU8 citizens remained similar, 49,000 in 2010 and 40,000 in 2011.

2.3 Non-EU citizens

The estimated number of non-EU citizens immigrating long-term to the UK in the year to March 2012 was 296,000, compared with the estimate of 317,000 in the year to March 2011. The estimated number of non-EU citizens emigrating from the UK in the year to March 2012 was 112,000, similar to the estimate of 102,000 in the year to March 2011. The resulting change in net migration of non-EU citizens from an estimated 215,000 in the year ending March 2011 to 185,000 the year to March 2012 is a statistically significant decrease.  (Figure 2.3)

Figure 2.3: Long-term international migration estimates of non-EU Citizens, UK, 2002–2012

Long-term international migration estimates of non-EU Citizens, UK, 2002–2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals

Download chart

The decrease in immigration of non-EU citizens has been largely due to significant falls in people arriving from the New Commonwealth for study. An estimated 76,000 New Commonwealth citizens arrived for study in the year to March 2012, which is lower that the estimate of 98,000 who arrived in the year to March 2011.

Final LTIM figures for 2011 show that non-EU immigration was 314,000 in 2011, compared to 322,000 in 2010. The peak non-EU immigration level was 370,000 in 2004. Non-EU emigration was 110,000 in 2011, compared to 104,000 in 2010. Net migration of non-EU citizens was therefore 204,000 in 2011, compared to 217,000 in 2010.

2.4 Migration by age, sex, and marital status

Final LTIM figures for 2011 estimate that 243,000 15 to 24 year olds immigrated to the UK, which is similar to the 245,000 25 to 44 year olds who migrated to the UK. Together these age groups account for 86 per cent of total inflow. Emigration in the 25 to 44 age group is much higher than in the 15 to 24 age group (201,000 compared to 86,000). This gives a net flow of 158,000 15-24 year olds and 44,000 25-44 year olds.

In 2011, more males migrated to the UK than females, with 308,000 males immigrating compared to 258,000 females. More males also emigrated from the UK compared to females (198,000 compared to 153,000) (Figure 2.4). This results in a fairly even net flow of 110,000 males and 105,000 females.

LTIM figures show that the majority of immigrants are single (359,000 in 2011, or 67 per cent of total inflow). 58 per cent of emigrants are single (194,000 in 2011). The resulting net flows into the UK are 165,000 single people and 42,000 married people.

 

Figure 2.4: Long-term international migration estimates by broad age group and sex, UK, 2011

 Long-term international migration estimates by broad age group and sex, UK, 2011
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

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2.5 National Insurance number allocation statistics – all citizens 

National Insurance numbers (NINos) are compulsory for people wishing to work in the UK, whether short-term or long-term. NINo allocation statistics give an approximation of the uptake of work by non-UK nationals.

The total number of NINo registrations to adult overseas nationals in the year to March 2012 was 601,000, a decrease of 104,000 (15 per cent) on the year to March 2011.

The proportion of NINos allocated to European Union Accession nationals (that is those of all 12 Accession countries –see Glossary) in the year to March 2012 is 34 per cent. Accession nationals accounted for 46 per cent of all allocations to adult overseas nationals when the figures peaked in the year to December 2007. (Figure 2.4)

Figure 2.5: National Insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals by world area of origin, UK, 2004–2012

National Insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals by world area of origin, UK, 2004–2012
Source: Work and Pensions

Notes:

  1. EU Accession countries here refers to the EU8, the EU2, Cyprus and Malta (see Glossary). This definition applies to the full time series.

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Note that the number of non-UK nationals who have been allocated NINos is not the same as the number of non-UK nationals working in the UK. This is because people who have been allocated NINos may subsequently have left the UK, or they may still be in the UK but have ceased to be in employment. Additionally, people with NINos can leave the UK and then return and take up employment without re-registering.

3. Why are People migrating to and from the UK?

3.1 People arriving in the UK

This section contains the latest available figures on immigration to the UK by reason. These are available from a number of sources. However, it is important to note that each source covers a different group of people – for example Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) only covers people intending to stay in the UK for at least 12 months, whereas other sources also include short-term immigrants. In addition the LTIM estimates cover all nationalities, whereas other sources only cover immigrants of specific nationalities.

More information on comparing data sources is available in the User Information (147.6 Kb Pdf) .

Provisional LTIM for the year ending March 2012 continues to demonstrate that the most common reason given for migrating to the UK is formal study. An estimated 213,000 long term migrants arrived to the UK for formal study in the year to March 2012. This compares to the estimate of 232,000 in the year to March 2011. (Figure 3.11)

Work-related reasons are the next most common main reason given for migration to the UK. In the year to March 2012 177,000 migrants arrived for work-related reasons. This is similar to the estimate of 194,000 in the year to March 2011 but significantly lower than the peak of 242,000 in the year to December 2007. (Figure 3.11)

Figure 3.11: Long-term international migration estimates of immigration to the UK, by main reason for migration, 2002–2012

Long-term international migration estimates of immigration to the UK, by main reason for migration, 2002–2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available annually
  3. Acc/Join means accompanying or joining

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Final LTIM figures for 2011 show that formal study continued to be the most commonly stated reason for immigration since overtaking work-related reasons in 2009. In 2011, 232,000 people migrated to the UK to study. This compares to the peak of 238,000 in 2010.

In 2011, an estimated 40 per cent of those who arrived for formal study were citizens of New Commonwealth countries and 37 per cent are citizens of other foreign countries, for example, China.

An estimated 184,000 immigrants arrived for work-related reasons in 2011, compared with 203,000 in 2010. Of those arriving in 2011, 115,000 immigrants arrived with a definite job. This compares with 122,000 in 2010. Numbers of immigrants arriving with a definite job have been declining since a peak of 171,000 in 2007.

In 2011, an estimated 69,000 immigrated to look for work compared with 81,000 in 2010 and 64,000 in 2009. In 2007, when migrants arriving for a definite job peaked, the estimate of those arriving to look for work was 71,000. The estimates of migrants arriving to look for work have been broadly similar since 2004.

An estimated 53 per cent of those who arrived for work-related reasons in 2011 were EU citizens (excluding British), half of whom are EU8 citizens. Non-EU citizens made up 27 per cent of those who arrived for work related reasons and 1 in 5 was a British citizen.

Entry clearance visas

Excluding visitor and transit visas, most entry clearance visas are issued under the Points Based System (PBS) for work (Tiers 1, 2 and 5) and study (Tier 4). Further information on the different tiers of the PBS is available in the Glossary. Entry clearance visas also include those for family reasons.

Of the entry clearance visas issued in the year ending September 2012, a total of 145,604 were work related. This was a decrease of 4 per cent on 152,041 in the year ending September 2011. These include (Figure 3.13):

  • 19,503 Tier 1 (highly skilled workers) visas or equivalents (25 per cent fall).

  • 67,698 Tier 2 (skilled workers) visas or equivalents (two per cent rise).

  • 37,937 Tier 5 (youth mobility and temporary workers) visas or equivalent (no change).

  • 469 pre-PBS visas that cannot be allocated to a tier (38 per cent fall).

  • 19,997 work-related visas not covered by the PBS (six per cent fall).

The data series starts at the year ending December 2005. The highest number of entry clearance visas issued for work-related reasons was 249,634 in the year ending December 2006. This figure then declined gradually to 152,995 in the year ending March 2010. Following which the number of entry clearance visas issued for the purposes of work rose slightly to 161,809 in the year ending March 2011. The figure has since decreased to the lowest recorded since the series started in 2005.

In the year ending December 2005 a total of 191,584 visas were issued for the purposes of study (excluding student visitors). This figure increased gradually at first, reaching 227,874 in the year ending June 2009, after which it increased sharply, peaking at 320,184 in the year ending June 2010, a rise of 41 per cent on a year earlier.

Following this peak there has been a fall in the number of visas issued for the purposes of study (excluding student visitors) to 210,921 in the year ending September 2012, 26 per cent lower than the 284,649 in the year to September 2011 (Figure 3.12).

The numbers of entry clearance visas issued for the purposes of  work, study (excluding student visitors) and family reasons have all continued to fall, falling 4 per cent, 26 per cent and 15 per cent respectively for the year ending September 2012 (to 145,604, 210,921, and 42,213).

Recent falls in the number of entry clearance visas issued for work and study are consistent with changes to the rules governing visas issued for work from December 2010 and for study from July 2011. They are also broadly consistent with recent downward trends in the LTIM measure of non-EU immigration, though extend six months beyond the period covered by the latest LTIM estimates.

(NB Student visitors are allowed to come to the UK for 6 months (or 11 months if they will be studying an English Language course) and cannot extend their stay. Excluding such short term migrants from the study-related visas granted data provides a better comparison with LTIM long term immigration data)

By contrast, there was a 12 per cent increase in student visit visas issued to a record 66,569 in the year ending September 2012. Student visit visas are for short-term study and cannot be extended. 

In the year ending September 2012, there were 211,001 sponsored student visa applications (main applicants excluding student visitors), a fall of 29 per cent compared with the previous 12 months.

This included an increase of 1 per cent for the university sector (UK-based Higher Education Institutions, to 155,821),  and falls of 67 per cent, 76 per cent and 17 per cent respectively in the further education sector (Tertiary, further education or other colleges to 32,900), English language schools (to 3,748) and independent schools (to 14,087).

As a consequence, the share of student visa applications for the university sector rose from around half (52 per cent) to three quarters (74 per cent) over the same period, whilst the shares for the further education sector and for English language schools fell respectively from 34 per cent to 16 per cent, and from 5 per cent to 2 per cent.

For information on comparing entry clearance data to IPS data on reasons for migration please refer to the User Information (147.6 Kb Pdf) .

Figure 3.12: UK entry clearance visas issued, including dependants, by reason (excluding visitor and transit visas), 2005–2012

UK entry clearance visas issued, including dependants, by reason (excluding visitor and transit visas), 2005–2012
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. (1) Excludes student visitors who are allowed to come to the UK for 6 months (or 11 months if they will be studying an English Language course) and cannot extend their stay

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Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics July - September 2012

Figure 3.13: UK entry clearance visas issued, including dependants, for work purposes, 2005–2012

UK entry clearance visas issued, including dependants, for work purposes, 2005–2012
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. Figures relate to visas issued rather than actual arrivals – i.e. they indicate intentions to come to the UK, which may not have been fulfilled and a range of permitted lengths of stay, including those for less than a year
  2. Visas issued for study and some work-related visas, together with other visa types, such as EEA family permits and some dependants wishing to join or accompany other immigrants, allow temporary entry clearance and require the individual to renew the visa before it expires should they wish to stay longer
  3. Some visas issued for work (under Tiers 1 and 2 and the pre-PBS equivalents) and some family visas allow an applicant to make an application for 'indefinite leave to remain' after a specified period. A number of other entry clearance visas, including some family visas, permit a person to stay in the UK indefinitely
  4. Other permit free employment (pre-PBS)’ refers to those visas that have been superseded by the PBS Tier and cannot be allocated to an equivalent PBS category
  5. Other work-related non-PBS’ are visas that are outside the rules of PBS such as domestic workers in private households
  6. Tier 1 is for highly skilled workers. Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a job offer. Tier 3 is low skilled workers – this entry route has never been opened. Tier 4 is for students and Tier 5 is for youth mobility and temporary workers

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Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics July - September 2012

The latest Home Office briefings on immigration by work, study, family and EEA are available.

In addition to the visas information the Home Office has released provisional quarterly figures up to June 2012 on applications for asylum and grants of settlement. The settlement figures relate only to those people who are subject to immigration control and do not cover EEA and Swiss nationals.

Asylum figures in this section relate to individual quarters rather than the rolling years used elsewhere in this report.

The number of applications for asylum, excluding dependants, was 18 per cent higher in Q3 2012 (5,797) compared with Q3 2011 (4,918) (Figure 3.14). 

Figure 3.14: Applications for asylum in the UK, excluding dependants, 2004-2012

Applications for asylum in the UK, excluding dependants, 2004-2012
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. Figures from 2011 onwards are provisional and subject to change

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Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics July- September 2012

Comparing the year ending September 2011 with the year ending September 2012, the number of people granted settlement in the UK fell by 28 per cent from 182,892 to 132,099. Family formation and reunion grants fell by 19 per cent to 44,990, employment-related grants fell by 5 per cent to 65,310 and other grants, including those on a discretionary basis, fell by 78 per cent to 10,451. Asylum-related grants remained steady at 11,348. (Figure 3.15)

Figure 3.15: Grants of settlement, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals, 2005–2012

Grants of settlement, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals, 2005–2012
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. Figures from YE Mar 11 onwards are provisional and subject to change
  2. Romanians and Bulgarians (EU2) are excluded from Q1 2007 onwards
  3. Changes in policy affect settlement trends. For further details see the User Guide to Home Office Immigration Statistics. This is available on the same webpage as the Immigration Statistics publication (see list of products)
  4. ‘Others’ includes people granted indefinite leave outside the immigration rules under measures aimed at clearing the backlog of unresolved cases, and grants where the category is unknown

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Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics July-September  2012

3.2 People emigrating from the UK

This section contains the latest available figures on emigration from the UK by reason.

In the latest available provisional estimates, work related reasons continue to be the main reasons given for emigration and account for 59 per cent of emigrants. An estimated 207,000 people emigrated from the UK for work related reasons in the year ending March 2012. This is a significant increase of 14 per cent on the year ending March 2011 when 182,000 people emigrated for work-related reasons (Figure 3.2).

In the year to March 2012 127,000 (61 per cent) left for a definite job, significantly higher than 108,000 (59 per cent) in the year to March 2011. This is the highest number of emigrants leaving for a definite job since a peak of 136,000 in the year to December 2008. The remaining 39 per cent in the year to March 2012 and 41 per cent in the year to March 2011 left to look for work. The proportions of definite job/look for work have remained fairly constant over time.

The numbers of British citizens emigrating reached a low of 115,000 in June 2010. Since then the estimated number of British citizens emigrating has increased to 145,000 in the year to March 2012. IPS data shows that migration patterns of British citizens have been driven by the number of British citizens leaving the UK for work-related reasons, which is just over half (56 per cent) of all British emigrants.

Figure 3.2: Long-term international migration estimates of emigration from the UK, by main reason, 2002–2012

Long-term international migration estimates of emigration from the UK, by main reason, 2002–2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures for YE Mar 12 are provisional
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available annually
  3. It should be noted that reasons for emigration will not necessarily match reasons for intended immigration. For example, someone arriving for study may then leave the UK after their course for work related reasons
  4. Acc/Join means accompanying or joining

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Final LTIM estimates show that in 2011 the most commonly stated reason for emigrating from the UK was a definite job. In 2011, 123,000 emigrants left the UK with a definite job to go to and 78,000 emigrated to look for work. In 2010 114,000 left with a definite job and 75,000 left to look for work. The peak of emigration to date was in 2008 when 219,000 emigrated, 136,000 with a definite job.

In 2011, an estimated 30 per cent of those emigrating with a definite job were going to the EU, and 37 per cent to non-EU and non-Commonwealth countries. Included in this figure will be those who originally arrived in the UK to study and have left for work. More detailed figures on emigration will be possible when data from the new ‘original reason for migration’ question is available in August 2013.

Emigration to accompany/join is at its lowest rate, with 33,000 leaving for this reason in 2011. This compares to a peak of 57,000 for the last decade, in 2008. This reason for migration is less common now than in the nineties, when the average annual emigration to accompany/join was 65,000.

Home Office Research Report 68 presents information from academic research and surveys drawn together to present key aspects of long-term emigration from the United Kingdom. This includes recent outward migration and some trends over the last twenty years, separately for British, European Union (EU) and non-EU citizens.

The report considers where emigrants go, how long for, and their motivations. The evidence suggests emigration is mainly for work, and that key destinations for British citizens are Australia, Spain, the United States, and France.  Reasons and drivers for emigration from the UK appear to vary across citizenship groups. Whilst many factors influence emigration, British and EU citizen emigration appears to be associated with changes in unemployment and exchange rates. This is less apparent for non-EU citizens.

3.3 Reason for Migration by Sex

Figure 3.3 Reasons for Migration by Sex 2011

Reasons for Migration by Sex 2011
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

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In 2011 an estimated 27 per cent of males migrated to the UK with a definite job, compared to 14 per cent of females. Conversely, only 6 per cent of males migrate to accompany or join family members, compared to 23 per cent of females who migrate to the UK to accompany or join family members.

Similar patterns are seen with emigration from the UK for definite job and accompany/join. However, emigration for study for both males and females is 5 per cent, compared to 45 and 40 per cent respectively for immigration.

4. Where are people migrating to?

This section (for November’s publication only) contains information on where people are migrating to. It includes final LTIM data of migration by UK area, country of origin for immigrants and country of destination for emigrants.

4.1 Migration by UK Area

The Annual Population Survey and data from the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency are used with the International Passenger Survey to provide estimates of Long Term International Migration into and out of areas within the UK. Of the constituent countries of the UK, the majority of immigrants arrive to live in England.

In 2011, 503,000 immigrants arrived to live in England, which is 89 per cent of the total 566,000 immigrants to the UK. The relative proportions of immigrants arriving in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are 2 per cent, 7 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.

Within England, 161,000 immigrants are in London, a similar estimate to those in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 the South East (73,000) had the largest numbers of immigrants outside London. In total, London and the South East received 41 per cent of all immigrants to the UK in 2011. This is similar to previous years.

The North West region had the largest numbers of immigrants outside London and the South East, with an estimate of 58,000. This is the largest number of immigrants to the North West in a single year since LTIM estimates began in 1991. Immigrants to the North West accounted for 12 per cent of the total number of immigrants to England in 2011.

Similarly to immigration, England also had the largest number of emigrants in 2011. 298,000 people emigrated from England to countries outside the UK, which is 85 per cent of all emigrants from the UK. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had 4 per cent, 7 per cent and 4 per cent of emigrants from the UK respectively. 

In 2011 England had a net international migration of 204,000. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had net migrations of -2,000, 15,000 and -3,000. These compare to 4,000, 28,000 and zero respectively for 2010 and the differences are not statistically significant.

4.2 Where did migrants to the UK previously live?

International Passenger Survey estimates show that immigrants came to the UK from many different countries. The top five countries of origin for 2011 are India (11.5 per cent of all immigrants), China (8.3 per cent), Pakistan (8.1 per cent), Poland (6.4 per cent) and Australia (4.9 per cent). There was a statistically significant increase in the numbers of migrants coming to the UK from China, from 29,000 in 2010 to 44,000 in 2011.

The majority (40,000) of migrants from China who came in 2011 intended to study in the UK. Prior to 2010 Pakistan had not been in the top five countries of origin since 2007. However, between 2009 and 2011, there has been a statistically significant increase in the number of migrants from Pakistan, from 18,000 in 2009 to 32,000 in 2010 and to 43,000 in 2011. 30,000 migrants from Pakistan arrived in 2011 to study in the UK. Over the last five years, fourth and fifth places in the ranking have fluctuated between Australia, Germany, USA, Pakistan and China (Figure 4.2).

Figure 4.2 Immigration from most common countries of last residence for 2007-2011

Immigration from most common countries of last residence for 2007-2011
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

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4.3 Where do emigrants from the UK intend to live?

Australia remains the most popular country of destination for emigrants from the UK. In 2011, final LTIM estimates show that 49,000 emigrants from the UK intended to live in Australia. Of this number, 36,000 were British citizens. The estimate of 49,000 is significantly higher than 39,000 seen in 2010. This contributes to the increase in emigration (from 339,000 in 2010 to 351,000 in 2011).

There was a statistically significant increase in emigration to India between 2010 and 2011, from 15,000 to 23,000. This increase made India the joint second most common country to emigrate to in 2011, alongside the USA. Flows to the USA remained similar between 2010 (24,000) and 2011 (23,000). Poland was the second most common destination in 2008 at 50,000, but now shares fourth place with France, each with 20,000 emigrants leaving the UK in 2011 (Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3 Emigration to most common destinations of next residence for 2007-2011

Emigration to most common destinations of next residence for 2007-2011
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

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5. Summary of other releases

Other migration and population products published on 29 November 2012 include:

  • The International Migration Timeline (ONS). This new product shows key international migration figures from 1964 to 2011 and allows the user to select particular years and see the figures in context of GDP, unemployment and key events or developments that occurred during these years. The product also shows the top 3 countries of origin and destination for migrants to and from the UK. It will be updated with final figures annually in November. This new product is initially launched to encourage feedback on how we might develop it further. Please email your suggestions to migstatsunit@ons.gov.uk.

6. Understanding Long-Term International Migration and provisional estimates

The estimates presented by ONS contain final LTIM and IPS data for all quarters to December 2011 and provisional LTIM data for the year ending March 2012. Final LTIM data for 2012 will be published in November 2013.

Provisional figures allow for a timely comparison of recent migration patterns on a quarterly basis. However, these are subject to change as their calculation is based upon provisional data. The final LTIM estimates are considered to provide a more reliable picture of migration and allow for annual comparisons over time. 

Patterns of long-term immigration and emigration differ due to a number of factors that affect particular nationalities including: visa requirements, economic factors and government policies.

For example, different visa restrictions apply to different nationalities. The latest visa restrictions, which include the closing of some work visa categories and limits placed on others in late 2010 and spring 2011 respectively, affect those citizens outside the EU applying to work in the UK. Any analysis of migration patterns needs to consider these factors when identifying and explaining key messages. Further guidance on comparing different data sources can be found in the MSQR User Information (147.6 Kb Pdf) .

An overview of population statistics produced by ONS, including information on migration statistics is available.

7. Glossary

Citizenship

This is the term used in the International Passenger Survey (IPS) to define the country for which a migrant is a passport holder. This refers specifically to the passport being used to enter / leave the UK at the time of interview. It does not refer to any other passport(s) which migrants of multiple citizenship may hold.

More generally a British citizen is someone with citizenship usually through a connection with the UK: birth, adoption, descent, registration, or naturalisation. British citizens have the right of abode in the UK.

Commonwealth (ONS Statistical Grouping)

The Commonwealth statistical grouping consists of countries of the Old Commonwealth and the New Commonwealth (see below).

Confidence interval

This is the range within which the true value of a population parameter lies with known probability. For example the 95 per cent confidence interval represents the range in which there are 19 chances out of 20 that the true figure would fall (had all migrants been surveyed). The uppermost and lowermost values of the confidence interval are termed ‘confidence limits’.

European Economic Area (EEA)

The EEA consists of the 27 countries of the EU (see below), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Swiss nationals are treated as EEA nationals for immigration purposes.

European Union (EU)

The EU consists of 27 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

European Union (EU) Accession countries

The Accession countries are those that joined the EU in either 2004 or 2007. Ten joined in 2004 (the EU8, plus Cyprus and Malta), and two joined in 2007 (the EU2).

EU2

The EU2 (formerly known as the A2) are the two countries that joined the EU on 1 January 2007: Bulgaria and Romania. EU2 nationals currently have certain restrictions placed on them; in the first 12 months of stay, working Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are generally required to hold an accession worker card or apply for one of two lower-skilled quota schemes. Other Bulgarian and Romanian nationals can apply for a registration certificate, giving proof of a right to live in the UK.

EU8

The EU8 (formerly known as the A8) are the eight central and eastern European countries that joined the EU on 1 May 2004: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The EU8 does not include the two other countries that joined on that date: Cyprus and Malta. EU8 nationals previously had restrictions on their rights to work and were required to register under the Worker Registration Scheme, but since 1 May 2011 EU8 nationals now have the same rights as other workers from the EU and EEA.

Grant of settlement

A grant of settlement is a grant of indefinite leave to enter (on arrival) or indefinite leave to remain (after entry) to a non-EEA national.

International Passenger Survey (IPS)

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) is a survey of a random sample of passengers entering and leaving the UK by air, sea or the Channel Tunnel. Over a quarter of a million face-to-face interviews are carried out each year. The IPS is carried out by ONS.

Nationality

Nationality is often used interchangeably with citizenship, and some datasets refer to ‘nationals’ of a country rather than ‘citizens’. Different datasets have different ways of establishing someone’s nationality. The APS, which underlies the population estimates by nationality, simply asks people ‘what is your nationality?’ However, the IPS, WRS, NINo and entry clearance visa data are based on people’s passports.

For asylum statistics the nationality is as stated on the ‘Case Information Database’. This will usually be based on documentary evidence, but sometimes asylum seekers arrive in the UK without any such documentation.

New Commonwealth (ONS Statistical Grouping)

The New Commonwealth statistical grouping consists of  African Commonwealth countries (Botswana, Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe), Indian subcontinent countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), and other Commonwealth countries in the Asian, Caribbean, and Oceania regions.

It also includes British Dependent Territories and British Overseas citizens. Up to and including 2003 Malta and Cyprus are included in the New Commonwealth grouping. For 2004, the year of accession, they are included in the EU. Malta and Cyprus are members of both the Commonwealth and the European Union from May 2004 onwards. However, for estimation purposes they have only been included in the EU grouping for 2004 onwards.

Rwanda was admitted to the Commonwealth in November 2009, but the definition for this statistical grouping has remained unchanged. Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in December 2003, but again the definition for this grouping also remained unchanged following this.

Old Commonwealth (ONS Statistical Grouping)

The Old Commonwealth statistical grouping consists of four countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

Points Based System (PBS)

The PBS is a rationalisation of immigration control processes for people coming into the UK for the purposes of work or study who are not EEA or Swiss nationals. Entries are classed into five tiers. Tier 1 is for highly skilled workers. Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a job offer. Tier 3 is low skilled workers – this entry route was never opened and is currently suspended. Tier 4 is for students and Tier 5 is for youth mobility and temporary workers.

Statistical Significance

The International Passenger Survey interviews a sample of passengers passing through ports within the UK. As with all sample surveys, the estimates produced from them are based upon one of a number of different samples that could have been drawn at that point in time. This means that there is a degree of variability around the estimates produced. This variability sometimes may present misleading changes in figures as a result of the random selection of those included in the sample. If a change or a difference between estimates is described as 'significant', it means that statistical tests have been carried out to reject the possibility that the change has occurred by chance. Therefore significant changes are very likely to reflect real changes in migration patterns.

Standard error

Standard error is an estimate of the margin of error associated with a sample survey.

Worker Registration Scheme (WRS)

The WRS closed on 30 April 2011; it was a scheme with which EU8 nationals were required to register if they wished to take up employment in the UK. Self-employed workers did not need to register with the WRS.

8. List of products

The following are URL links to the products underlying this report, or otherwise associated with the co-ordinated migration release of 29 November 2012. The department releasing each product is indicated.

The user information sheet (147.6 Kb Pdf) includes guidance on comparing the data sources, and quality information (ONS).

Quality and Methodology Information for International Migration (ONS) (145.2 Kb Pdf) .

International Passenger Survey: Quality Information in Relation to Migration Flows (406.5 Kb Pdf)  (ONS).

Quarterly releases on 29 November 2012:

  1. Immigration Statistics July-September 2012 (Home Office).

  2. Long-Term International Migration 2011 (ONS).

  3. Provisional Long-Term International Migration, year ending March 2012 (ONS).

Published on 14 November 2012:

Labour Market Statistics November 2012 (ONS). This includes estimates of the number of people in employment in the UK by country of birth and nationality.

Published on 30 August 2012:

National Insurance Number (NINo) Allocations to Adult Overseas Nationals to March 2012 (DWP).

9. Future releases

The quarterly migration release dates in 2013 are:

Thursday 28 February

Thursday 23 May

Thursday 29 August

Thursday 28 November.

The final long-term international migration figures for the calendar year 2012 will be published in November 2013.

Publication Orders

To obtain a print version of this publication, contact Dandy Booksellers, tel: 020 7624 2993

Suppliers of ONS hard copy publications.

Background notes

  1. The Migration Statistics Quarterly Report is produced in partnership with the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

    It also incorporates data supplied by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

  2. A list of those with Pre-release access (28.4 Kb Pdf) to the MSQR and associated migration products is available.

  3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Sarah Crofts +44 (0)1329 444097 Migration Statistics Unit migstatsunit@ons.gsi.gov.uk
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