Skip to content

Statistical bulletin: Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, August 2013 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 29 August 2013 Download PDF

Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, August 2013

  • Latest provisional data show that there was a net flow of 176,000 Long-Term migrants to the UK in the year ending December 2012. This is lower than the estimate of 215,000 in the year to December 2011, but it is not a statistically significant fall.
  • 497,000 people immigrated to the UK in the year ending December 2012, which is a statistically significant decline from the 566,000 who immigrated during the previous year. This decrease has caused the fall in net migration.
  • 321,000 emigrants left the UK in the year ending December 2012, which is a statistically significant decrease from the 351,000 who emigrated during the previous year.
  • Net migration has increased in the year ending December 2012 when compared to the year ending September 2012, when it stood at 153,000. This increase suggests the decline seen in net migration on a rolling quarterly basis since the year ending June 2011 has not continued.
  • Immigration of New Commonwealth citizens decreased significantly from 151,000 in the year ending December 2011 to 97,000 in the year ending December 2012.
  • 180,000 immigrants arrived in the UK for formal study in the year ending December 2012; this is similar to the 179,000 immigrants who arrived in the UK for work related reasons.
  • 181,000 people migrated away from the UK for work related reasons in the year ending December 2012, a statistically significant decrease compared to 201,000 people who emigrated for this reason the year previously.
  • The number of visas issued, excluding visitor and transit visas, was 501,840 in the year ending June 2013, 4% lower than the previous year (520,073). However, this was slightly up on the year ending March 2013 (499,641).
  • In the year ending June 2013, there were 204,469 study visas issued (excluding student visitors), a fall of 5% compared with the previous year.
  • Sponsored study visas applications fell 2% in the year ending June 2013. This change was not uniform, with a 4% increase for the university sector and falls of 25%, 16% and 3%, respectively, for further education, English language schools and independent schools.
  • 562,000 National Insurance numbers (NINos) were allocated to non-UK nationals in the year to March 2013, a decrease of 6% on the year to March 2012

Introduction

Welcome to the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR).  The MSQR series brings together statistics on migration that are published quarterly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Home Office and annually by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

There is significant interest in migration statistics both nationally and internationally, particularly in relation to the impact of migration on society and on the economy. Migration estimates are a fundamental component of ONS’s 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.  Additionally, migration statistics are essential to the current government in monitoring how they are performing against their target of reducing annual net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015. For further information on how ONS migration statistics are used along with information on their fitness for purpose please see the Quality and Methodology Information for Long-Term International Migration Releases (327.8 Kb Pdf) .

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. A separate bulletin on estimates of Short-Term international migration was published in May.

This edition of the MSQR includes new information

  • The publication of results for the year ending December 2012 for a new question on the International Passenger Survey (IPS) which asks current emigrants, who had previously immigrated to the UK, about their main reason for migration at the time that they immigrated to the UK. The table ‘Outflow of migrants by Citizenship and, for former immigrants, previoius main reason for Immigratiion’ is published as Table 4 in our Long-term International Migration reference tables and an analysis of these data is provided in Section 3.3 of the MSQR. Further cross-tabulations on the data from this new question will be published in the November 2013 edition of the MSQR. A guidance note 'International Migration - How to interpret Table 4'. has been published to assist with interpreting the results of the new question.

  • Confidence intervals were added to accompany the published figures in 2012. To assist interpretation of these confidence intervals, new guidance has been produced within the MSQR Information for Users (306.8 Kb Pdf)

  • Updated local area migration indicator suite (5.67 Mb Excel sheet)

  • Population by nationality and country of birth tables and report for the year ending December 2012.

  • ONS has recently launched the Migration Topic page on its website. This webpage is designed to be a hub for users of migration statistics providing links to the latest migration data and publications.

Provisional figures are provided for a timely indication of migration that is not possible with final figures. This edition of the MSQR provides provisional figures for LTIM for the year ending December 2012, which will be published as final estimates in November 2013. Improvements to the processing of migration statistics mean that the next publication will bring forward the timeliness of the provisional estimates by one quarter. All future MSQRs will provide provisional LTIM estimates with a five month lag from the reference date, rather than the current eight month lag.

Accuracy of Long-Term International Migration Estimates

The Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) estimates are based on the results of the IPS. As with all survey based estimates, they are subject to a degree of uncertainty as the sample of passengers randomly selected is one of a number of different samples that could have been selected. The published estimate is the best available and most likely figure based on the data collected of international migration flows during a particular time period.

The IPS provides reliable data on international migration at the national level.  This is supported by the small (0.8%) difference between the 2001 to 2011 population estimates and the 2011 Census and the similar patterns seen across other data sources such as visas issued to citizens outside the EU. Since the IPS estimates are based upon a sample survey and not an exact count of passengers, it is good statistical practice to publish confidence intervals alongside them. These provide a measure of the reliability of the estimates and can be used to identify statistically significant changes. More information on confidence intervals and guidance on their interpretation is available in the MSQR Information for Users (306.8 Kb Pdf) .

Guidance on comparing different data sources can be found in the MSQR Information for Users (306.8 Kb Pdf)  and web links are provided at the back of the report for those who wish to access the underlying datasets. This product includes a useful diagram and table that clarify the differences between the migration statistics produced from Home Office, DWP and ONS data sources. It also includes a brief explanation of the differences between provisional and final figures.

Summary statistics

This summary section includes the key messages on immigration, emigration and net migration and what has been causing recent changes in these flows.

The published Long-Term International Migration tables contain confidence intervals for all IPS based estimates. For net migration, the estimate of 176,000 for the year ending December 2012 has a 95% confidence interval of 142,000 to 210,000. Although the central figure of 176,000 is the best and most likely estimate of the true value of net migration based on the data collected, the confidence interval provides an indication of the degree of uncertainty around this estimate and can be used to test for statistically significant changes. For more information on confidence intervals around LTIM and IPS estimates, see the MSQR Information for Users (306.8 Kb Pdf)  and LTIM: Quality and Methodology information (327.8 Kb Pdf) .

Table 1 shows the key figures for the year ending December 2012 and the previous year with their corresponding confidence intervals. The annual differences are also presented with their confidence interval for these differences.

Table 1: Latest changes in Migration. YE Dec 2012

Thousands
  YE Dec 2012 95% CI  YE Dec 2011 95% CI Difference  95% CI
Net Migration 176 +/- 34 215 +/- 35 -39 +/- 49
Immigration 497 +/- 27 566 +/- 28 -69 +/- 39
Emigration 321 +/- 20 351 +/- 22 -30 +/- 30

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand

  2. For more information and a description of confidence intervals, please see the MSQR Information for Users
  3. 'Difference' is the change from YE December 2012 minus YE December 2011. Where the confidence interval for the difference does not contain zero, we can say that the difference is statistically significant. This means that the difference is likely to reflect a real change in migration flows.

  4. YE = Year Ending

Download table

Provisional LTIM estimates show that net migration for the year ending December 2012 was 176,000. This figure is slightly lower than the net migration figure of 215,000 for the year ending December 2011.

Long-term immigration to the UK has experienced a statistically significant fall from 566,000 in the year ending December 2011 to 497,000 in the year ending December 2012. This has driven the fall in net migration over this period. The latest immigration figures are similar to those seen 10 years previously when an estimated 491,000 people immigrated to the UK in the year ending June 2002.

Long-term emigration from the UK for the year ending December 2012 was 321,000; this figure is significantly lower than the 351,000 who emigrated the previous year.

Although net migration has fallen in the year ending December 2012 compared to the previous year, there has been a slight increase in the estimate of net migration compared to the figure of 153,000 for the year ending September 2012. This increase is not statistically significant but this suggests that the recent decline seen in net migration since the year ending June 2011 has not continued. This is due to the fall in emigration (of British and EU citizens) that is not statistically significant, accompanied by stable levels of immigration for these overlapping periods of years ending September and December 2012.

There has been a statistically significant decrease in the net migration of non-EU citizens to 157,000 in the year ending December 2012 from 204,000 the previous year. This is because of a decline in immigration of non-EU citizens, particularly in the number of citizens of New Commonwealth countries immigrating to the UK, from 151,000 in the year ending December 2011 to 97,000 in the year ending December 2012. This decrease is as a result of fewer New Commonwealth citizens arriving to study in the UK.

Home Office data suggests that the numbers of visas (excluding visitor and transit visas) issued fell in the year ending June 2013 (though at a reduced rate compared with previously), which suggests that the LTIM estimates of immigration of non-EU citizens may also continue to fall. Excluding visitor and transit visas, the number of visas issued fell 4% to 501,840 in the year ending June 2013 (compared with 520,073 in the previous year), which followed falls since the year ending June 2011 (616,413); however in the year ending June 2013 total there was a slight increase compared with the year ending March 2013 (499,641).

Latest changes in main reason for migration  

180,000 immigrants arrived in the UK for formal study in the year ending December 2012. Study had been the most common reason for migrating to the UK since 2009 when it overtook work related reasons, but the numbers arriving for this purpose have been falling since the year ending September 2011.

Over the same period numbers arriving for work related reasons have remained steady. In the year ending December 2012, 179,000 immigrants arrived in the UK for work related reasons compared to 184,000 in the previous year. The number of immigrants arriving for work related reasons is now almost equal to the numbers arriving for formal study.

The latest data on study visas issued, (excluding student visitors, but which can also include people intending to stay in the UK for less than a year and includes dependants) show that in the year ending June 2013, there were 204,469 study visas issued, 5% less than the previous year. There was also a 2% fall for sponsored study visa applications (closely related to visas issued) to 206,871 in the year ending June 2013. This change was not uniform, with a 4% increase for the university sector (UK-based Higher Education Institutions) and falls of 25%, 16% and 3% respectively for the further education sector (tertiary, further education or other colleges), English language schools and independent schools.

181,000 people migrated away from the UK for work related reasons in the year ending December 2012. This is a statistically significant decrease compared to the 201,000 people who emigrated for this reason in the year ending December 2011, and is a key contributory factor to the overall fall in emigration seen over this time.

IPS data (which exclude the adjustments made to derive LTIM) show that there have been falls (although not statistically significant) in emigration for work related reasons of both New Commonwealth citizens (25,000 in the year ending December 2012, down from 28,000 the previous year) and of British citizens (72,000 compared to 78,000 the previous year). This is contributing to the overall decline in emigration for work related reasons. Approximately half of those emigrating for a definite job are British citizens.

The latest data on work visas issued, which also includes people intending to stay in the UK for less than a year and dependants, show 144,554 visas were issued for work in the year ending June 2013, a fall of 2% compared with the previous year, which followed falls since the year ending March 2011 (161,809). However, the year ending June figure (144,554) was an increase compared with the 141,772 issued in the year ending March 2013.

562,000 National Insurance numbers (NINos) were allocated to non-UK nationals in the year to March 2013, a decrease of 6% on the year to March 2012. 179,000 NINos were allocated to EU8 nationals in the year to March 2013, an increase of 6 per cent on the year to March 2012.

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

Revisions made to Population Estimates in light of 2011 Census

Every ten years the population Census provides the opportunity to compare population estimates with a count of the population at a given point in time. Population estimates are produced from administrative records on births and deaths and Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) estimates in addition to other adjustments. The 2011 Census showed that when the rolled-forward population estimates were compared with the latest Census count, there was a 0.8% difference. Although this difference is small and suggests that over the ten years, estimates of international migration were very close to the Census count, the difference has been partly attributed to an underestimate of international migration during the ten year period.

ONS has published revised net migration figures as components of change in revised mid-year population estimates from the year to mid-2002 to the year to mid-2010 for England and Wales. These take into account the results from the 2011 Census, and included a revision to the net migration component, focussed primarily on immigration during the middle part of the decade before improvements were made to the IPS in 2009. The methods used to revise the mid-year population estimates are explained in a report published in December 2012.

Table 2 below provides an at-a-glance comparison of final LTIM estimates for England and Wales, with the revised net migration components of the mid-year population estimates for England and Wales.

Table 2: Revised Net International Migration estimates for England and Wales. 2002 to 2011

Thousands
  Final LTIM net migration estimate1 New mid-year estimate net migration (revised)2 Difference between  revised mid-year estimate net migration and final LTIM net migration estimate
2001-2002 148                      171                               23
2002-2003 151                      173                               22
2003-2004 174                      190                               16
2004-2005 253                      302                               49
2005-2006 167                      217                               50
2006-2007 186                      252                               66
2007-2008 180                      244                               64
2008-2009 146                      181                               35
2009-2010 214                      220                                 6
2010-2011 224                      237                               13

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. LTIM – Table 2.10 Long-Term International Migration time series, 1991-1992 to 2010-2011 Citizenship, 29 November 2012
  2. ONS Mid-Year population estimates for England and Wales

Download table

In 2009, improvements were made to the IPS to make it much better focussed on migration and to increase the geographical coverage of ports of entry to the UK. For more information see International Passenger Survey: Quality Information in Relation to Migration Flows . It is important to note that if these improvements had been made prior to 2009, then we would have expected the rolled-forward population estimates and the 2011 Census count to have been even closer. ONS plans to publish a paper on the quality of international migration estimates from 2001 to 2011 in Autumn 2013. Any decision regarding the revision of previously published LTIM estimates from 2001 to 2011 will be made in light of this analysis. 

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 December 2012.

2. Entry clearance visas issued by the Home Office up to June 2013.

1.1 Provisional Long-Term International Migration figures

Provisional figures are provided for a timely indication of migration trends and can be different (typically around 0.5%) from final figures. More information is available in the MSQR Information for Users (306.8 Kb Pdf) .

The provisional estimate of total Long-Term International immigration to the UK in the year to December 2012 was 497,000. This was statistically significantly lower than the estimate of 566,000 in the year to December 2011. (Figure 1.1)

The provisional estimate of total long-term emigration from the UK in the year to December 2012 was 321,000; this is a statistically significant decrease from 351,000 in the year to December 2011 and also statistically significantly lower than the year to December 2008, when total emigration from the UK peaked at an estimated 427,000. (Figure 1.1)

The provisional estimate of net long-term migration to the UK in the year to December 2012 was 176,000 (Figure 1.1). In the year to December 2011 it was 215,000. 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

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

Notes:

  1. Figures for 2012 are provisional.
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals.

Download chart

1.2 Entry clearance visas

Data on entry clearance visas issued (described below as visas issued) are produced by the Home Office. 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 in the year ending June 2013 was 501,840, 4% lower than the year ending June 2012 (520,073), but slightly up on the year ending March 2013 (499,641).

2. Who is migrating to and from the UK?

This section contains latest available data of migration to and from the UK by citizenship. Using data from ONS Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) it explores the different patterns in migration flows by citizenship 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 (excluding British) and non-EU citizens

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

2.1 British citizens

Provisional long-term international migration estimates by citizenship show that in the year to December 2012 the estimated number of British citizens immigrating long-term to the UK was 81,000. This is similar to the estimated 78,000 British citizens who immigrated to the UK in the year to December 2011.

The estimated number of British citizens emigrating long-term from the UK in the year to December 2012 was 144,000, which is similar to the figure of 149,000 for the year ending December 2011 (Figure 2.11).

Net migration of British citizens was therefore -63,000 in the year ending December 2012. This means that 63,000 more British citizens left the UK than arrived during that year. This is not significantly different from -70,000 in the year ending December 2011.

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 2012 are provisional.
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals

Download chart

Non-British citizens

The estimated number of non-British citizens immigrating long-term to the UK in the year ending December 2012 was 416,000, 15% lower than the estimate of 488,000 for the year to December 2011. The estimated number of non-British citizens emigrating long-term from the UK was 177,000, a significant decrease to the estimate of 202,000 in the year to December 2011 (Figure 2.12). The effect of these flows means that net migration of non-British citizens has significantly decreased from 286,000 in the year ending December 2011 to 238,000 in the year ending December 2012.

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 2012 are provisional.
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals.

Download chart

2.2 EU citizens

An estimated 155,000 citizens from the EU (excluding British) migrated to the UK in the year ending December 2012, similar to the estimate of 174,000 in the year ending December 2011. The estimated number of EU citizens (excluding British) emigrating from the UK was 74,000 in the year ending December 2012, a significant decrease to the estimate of 92,000 emigrating in the year ending December 2011 (Figure 2.21). Net migration of EU citizens in the year ending December 2012 was 82,000, the same as in the previous year ending December 2011. Figure 2.12 shows a recent increase in net migration of EU citizens; this increase is not statistically significant and is driven by a steady decline in emigration of EU citizens.

There was a statistically significant decline in the number of immigrants from the EU15 for formal study from 27,000 in the year ending December 2011 to 17,000 in the year ending December 2012.  This could be related to the increase in tuition fees at universities in England in 2012.

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 2012 are provisional.
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals.

Download chart

 

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 December 2012 was 58,000, similar to the estimate of 77,000 in the year to December 2011. The estimated number of EU8 citizens emigrating from the UK in the year to December 2012 was 29,000, similar to the estimate of 37,000 in the year to December 2011. (Figure 2.22).  Net migration of EU8 citizens in the year ending December 2012 was 29,000, similar to 40,000 the previous year.

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 2012 are provisional.
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available at six month intervals.

Download chart

2.3 Non-EU citizens

The estimated number of non-EU citizens immigrating long-term to the UK in the year ending December 2012 was 260,000, compared with the estimate of 314,000 in the year to December 2011. The estimated number of non-EU citizens emigrating from the UK in the year ending December 2012 was 104,000, similar to the estimate of 110,000 in the year ending December 2011. The resulting change in net migration of non-EU citizens from an estimated 204,000 in the year ending December 2011 to 157,000 in the year ending December 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 2012 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. IPS data (which excludes the adjustments made to derive LTIM shows an estimated 51,000 New Commonwealth citizens arrived for study in the year to December 2012, which is significantly lower than the estimate of 91,000 who arrived in the year to December 2011. There was also a statistically significant decrease in the number of New Commonwealth citizens arriving to accompany or join relatives, from 31,000 in the year ending December 2011 to 20,000 in the year ending December 2012.

2.4 Entry clearance visas issued - by world area

Administrative data on entry clearance visas provide information on the nationality of those who are coming to the UK, though they relate to those subject to immigration control, so normally exclude EU nationals and some others (see section 1.2).

Figure 2.4: Entry clearance visas issued (excluding visitor and transit visas), by world area, UK, 2005–2013

Entry clearance visas issued (excluding visitor and transit visas), by world area, UK, 2005–2013
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. A small number (one to two thousand per year excluding visitor and transit visas) of Home Office visas cannot be ascribed to a world area and are categorised as ‘Other’. This category does not appear in the above chart
  2. European Economic Area (EEA) nationals do not require a visa to enter the UK. However some EEA nationals do apply and are issued with visas
  3. See the Glossary for discussion of world regions and differences between Home Office and DWP definitions.

Download chart

Source Home office Migration Statistics April to June 2013

Figure 2.4 shows trends in visas issued (excluding visitor and transit visas) by world area since 2005. From the year ending September 2009 onwards those with an Asian nationality have accounted for the majority of visas and have driven the recent fluctuations in visa numbers. Asian nationals accounted for 263,893 (53%) of the 501,840 visas issued in the year ending June 2013, with India and China each accounting for 15% of the total.

There were 501,840 visas issued in the year ending June 2013, excluding visitor and transit visas, 18,233 lower than the year ending June 2012 (520,073). This included falls for Pakistan (-10,448 or -32%), India (-6,869 or -8%) and Nigeria (-1,968 or -10%) and increases for Libya (+3,776 or more than triple the previous number) and Hong Kong (+1,179 or +10%).

The rise in the number issued to Libyans is consistent with a return to previous levels, following civil unrest in the country. In the year ending June 2013 visas issued to Libyan nationals represented 1% (5,211) of all visas issued.

The above figures exclude visitor and transit visas but will include some individuals who do not plan to move to the UK for a year or more and include dependants. Nevertheless, recent trends in visas issued have provided a good leading indicator for trends in non-EU immigration. Data on visas issued also provides information on reasons why people are migrating, as detailed in Section 3.

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 2013 was 562,000, a decrease of 39,000 (6%) on the year to March 2012.

The proportion of NINos allocated to Accession nationals (that is those of all 12 Accession countries –see Glossary ) in the year to March 2013 is 37% (209,000). This is similar to the 206,000 (34% of total) allocated to Accession nationals in the year to March 2012. Accession nationals accounted for 46% of all allocations to adult overseas nationals when the figures peaked in the year to December 2007.

The number of NINos allocated to nationals of other EU countries (excluding Accession countries) has risen to 176,000 in the year to March 2013, an increase of 22% compared to the 144,000 allocated to these nationals in the year to March 2012.

There has been a large decline in the number of NINos assigned to nationals of Asia and the Middle East. This has fallen by 36% from 150,000 in the year to March 2012 to 95,000 in the year to March 2013. (Figure 2.5)

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. Note: EU Accession countries here refers to the EU8, the EU2, Cyprus and Malta (see Glossary). This definition applies to the full time series. See the Glossary for discussion of world regions and differences between Home Office and DWP definitions.

Download chart

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 a NINo may subsequently have left the UK, or they may still be in the UK but have ceased to be in employment. Additionally, people with a NINo 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 LTIM only covers people intending to stay in the UK for at least 12 months, whereas other sources also include short-term migrants. 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 MSQR Information for Users (306.8 Kb Pdf) .

Formal study has been the most common reason for migrating to the UK since 2009. However, the number of immigrants arriving for this purpose has been in decline since the year ending September 2011 and is now similar to the estimated number of people arriving to the UK for work. Provisional LTIM estimates show that 180,000 long-term migrants arrived in the UK for formal study in the year to December 2012. This is significantly lower than the estimate of 232,000 who arrived in the year to December 2011. (Figure 3.11)

The number of immigrants arriving for work related reasons has remained stable over the last year. 179,000 migrants arrived for work related reasons in the year ending December 2012 which is similar to the estimate of 184,000 in the year to December 2011. However, this is significantly lower than the peak of 246,000 in the year to December 2005. (Figure 3.11)

An extra source of information is the quarterly Labour Market Statistical release  that provides estimates of numbers employed and employment rates by broad country of birth and nationality groupings (though these estimates of numbers employed should not be used as a proxy for flows of Non-UK foreign migrants into the UK).

The third most common reason for migrating to the UK is to accompany/join. In the year ending December 2012, 61,000 people migrated to the UK to accompany or join relatives; this figure is similar to the estimate of 74,000 who migrated for this reason in the year previously (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 2012 are provisional.
  2. Up to YE Dec 09, data are only available annually.
  3. Acc/Join means accompanying or joining.

Download chart

 

Entry clearance visas issued by reason

Excluding visitor and transit visas, most 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. The data also include those issued for family reasons, and dependants.

In the year ending June 2013, there were falls in the numbers of visas issued for the purposes of work (-2% to 144,554), study (excluding student visitors, -5% to 204,469) and family reasons (-24% to 34,201) compared with the previous year.

Recent falls in the number of visas issued for work, study and family reasons are consistent with changes to the rules governing visas related to these routes of entry which began to come into effect from the end of 2010. 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.

Figure 3.12: UK entry clearance visas issued, including dependants, by reason (excluding visitor and transit visas), 2005–2013

UK entry clearance visas issued, including dependants, by reason (excluding visitor and transit visas), 2005–2013
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  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.
  2. The Student visitor category provides for persons who wish to come to the UK as a visitor and undertake a short period of study that will be completed within the period of their leave. It includes those who applied on the 'Short-term student' endorsement prior to the introduction of the ‘Student visitor’ endorsement in September 2007.

Download chart

 

Source Home Office Migration Statistics April to June 2013

In the year ending December 2005 a total of 191,584 visas were issued for the purpose of study (excluding student visitors). This figure increased gradually at first, reaching 227,873 in the year ending June 2009, after which it increased sharply, peaking at 320,183 in the year ending June 2010, a rise of 41% on a year earlier. Following this peak there has been a fall in the number of visas issued for the purposes of study to 204,469 in the year ending June 2013, 5% lower than the 214,219 in the year ending June 2012 (Figure 3.12).

The 9,750 (-5%) fall was more than accounted for by falls for Pakistani (-8,457, -54%) and Indian (-7,927, -35%) nationals. There were some increases for other nationalities including an increase from 826 to 2,300 (+178%) for Brazil, 55,998 to 57,535 for China (+3%) and 647 to 2,441 (+277%) for Libya.

The increase in the number of study visas issued to Libyans is consistent with a return to previous levels, following civil unrest in the country. In the year ending June 2013 visas issued to Libyan nationals represented 1% (2,441) of all study visas issued (excluding student visitors).

By contrast to the 9,750 fall in study visas issued, there was a 5% increase in student visitor visas issued to 72,496 in the year ending June 2013. Student visit visas are for short-term study and cannot be extended. Excluding such Short-Term migrants from the study-related visas granted data provides a better comparison with LTIM long-term immigration data. The nationalities accounting for the increase in student visitor visas were different from those accounting for the fall in study visas.

In the year ending June 2013, there were 206,871 sponsored student visa applications (main applicants), a fall of 2%. This change was not uniform, with a 4% increase for the university sector (UK-based Higher Education Institutions, to 159,734) and falls of 25%, 16% and 3% respectively for the further education sector (tertiary, further education or other colleges to 26,477), English language schools (to 3,423) and independent schools (to 13,778).

As a consequence, the share of visa applications for the university sector rose from 73% to 77% over the same period, whilst the shares for the Further Education sector fell from 17% to 13%.

Figure 3.13: Study-related sponsored visa applications by sector, 2010-2013

Study-related sponsored visa applications by sector, 2010-2013
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. The numbers show the use of a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS) in a study visa application.
  2. Universities are 'recognised bodies' (meaning that it has its own UK degree-awarding powers), or bodies in receipt of public funding as a Higher Education Institute (HEI). Institutions (including further education colleges) which receive some public funding to deliver higher education courses do not fall within this definition of an HEI. They are UK-based. Further Education contains the remainder of sponsors who described themselves as ‘University and tertiary’, plus those who described themselves as ‘Private Institution of Further or Higher Education’ or whose self-description included ‘Further Education’ or ‘Higher Education’. Includes a small number of foreign based universities but these account for very small numbers of CAS used.
  3. The chart excludes sponsored visa applications from a small number of other sponsors.

Download chart

Source Home Office Migration Statistics April to June 2013

There were 144,554 work related visas issued in the year ending June 2013. This was 2% less than the previous year (147,377). The data series starts at the year ending December 2005.

The highest 12-monthly total for work related visas issued  was 249,634 in the calendar year 2006. This figure then declined gradually to 152,993 in the year ending March 2010. After that the number rose slightly to 161,809 in the year ending March 2011, then fell to 141,772 for the year ending March 2013 and increased to 144,554 in the year ending June 2013. 

More detailed information on work related visas issued by ‘Tier’ can be found in the latest Home Office briefings on immigration for work (details below).

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

In addition to the visas information, the Home Office has released provisional quarterly figures up to June 2013 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 or 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 17% higher in Q2 2013 (5,840) compared with Q2 2012 (4,971) (Figure 3.14).

Figure 3.14: Applications for asylum in the UK, excluding dependants, 2004-2013

Applications for asylum in the UK, excluding dependants, 2004-2013
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. Note: Figures from 2012 onwards are provisional and subject to change.

Download chart

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics April – June 2013

Comparing the year ending June 2012 with the year ending June 2013, the number of people granted settlement in the UK rose by 9% from 140,911 to 153,058. Family formation and reunion grants rose by 24% to 60,079, asylum-related grants rose by 63% to 20,387 and other grants, including those on a discretionary basis rose by 4% to 11,633. These increases were partly offset by a 12% fall in work related grants to 60,959.  (Figure 3.15).

Figure 3.15: Grants of settlement, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals, 2005–2013

Grants of settlement, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals, 2005–2013
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. Figures from YE Mar 12 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 Policy and Legislative Changes Timeline published alongside 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 cases from before March 2007 involving unsuccessful asylum applicants, and grants where the category is unknown.

Download chart

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics April – June 2013 

Migrant Journey Third Report (Home Office Research Report 69) provides evidence on the behaviour of migrants entering the UK immigration system for the five main routes of entry to the UK and the common pathways through the Immigration System that result in settlement.

This third report follows on from ‘The Migrant Journey’ and ‘The Migrant Journey: Second Report’, by providing analysis on two further cohorts of migrants issued visas in 2005 and 2006 and migrants granted settlement in 2010 and 2011. The report also provides updated estimates for the previously published 2004 and 2009 cohorts.

3.2 People emigrating from the UK 

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

In the latest available provisional estimates, work related reasons continue to be the main reasons given for emigration and account for 56% of emigrants. An estimated 181,000 people emigrated from the UK for work related reasons in the year ending December 2012, a significant decrease to the estimate of 201,000 in the year ending December 2011 (Figure 3.2). Of these an estimated 115,000 (64%) left for a definite job, similar to the estimate of 123,000 (61%) in the year to December 2011. The remaining 36% in the year to December 2012 and 39% in the year to December 2011 left to look for work. The proportions of definite job/look for work have remained fairly constant over time.

The estimated numbers of British citizens emigrating reached a low of 128,000 in June 2010. In comparison, 144,000 British citizens emigrated in the year ending December 2012. IPS data (which exclude the adjustments made to derive LTIM show that migration patterns of British citizens are driven by the number of British citizens leaving the UK for work related reasons, which accounts for just over half (54%) 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 2012 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.

Download chart

3.3 People emigrating from the UK by previous main reason for immigration

In 2012 a new question was added to the International Passenger Survey asking current emigrants who had previously immigrated to the UK, about their main reason for migration at the time that they immigrated to the UK. This edition of the MSQR sees the publication of the first results from the new question for the year ending December 2012.  Note that these results are based on IPS data which excludes the adjustments made to derive LTIM.

In the year ending December 2012, IPS data shows that 298,000 individuals emigrated from the UK. These comprised 89,000 ‘new’ long-term emigrants (individuals who had not previously lived away from the UK for 12 months or more), and 209,000 long-term emigrants who had formerly immigrated to the UK.  

Those emigrants who had formerly immigrated to the UK were asked what had been their previous main reason for immigrating to the UK (note that this is not necessarily the same as their current reason for emigrating from the UK). An approximately equal proportion of people stated that they had previously immigrated to the UK for work related reasons or for formal study (68,000 and 67,000 or 33% and 32% respectively). 16,000 (7.7%) had previously immigrated to the UK to accompany or join another person, whilst 59,000 (28.2%) had previously immigrated for other reasons (such as working holiday, holiday, visiting family etc) or did not state their previous reason for immigration.

Of those who previously immigrated to the UK for work related reasons, over half (38,000) were EU citizens, a quarter (17,000) were citizens of both of the Old and New Commonwealth, and around one in seven (10,000) were citizens of other foreign countries.

Of the 67,000 emigrants who previously immigrated to the UK for formal study, nearly a quarter (15,000) were EU citizens and a third (21,000) were citizens of the Old and New Commonwealth. Two in five (27,000) were citizens of other foreign countries.

Figure 3.3: Outflow of migrants, who are former immigrants to the UK, by citizenship and previous main reason for immigration, 2012

Outflow of migrants, who are former immigrants to the UK, by citizenship and previous main reason for immigration, 2012
Source: Long-term International Migration - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Figures are provisional.
  2. Work related reasons is the sum of definite job and looking for work

Download chart

A guidance note 'International Migration - How to interpret Table 4' has been published to accompany this edition of the MSQR to provide further information on interpreting the new IPS question on previous main reason for immigration. More detailed cross-tabulations using data arising from the new question will be published in the November edition of the MSQR.

4. Summary of other releases

Other migration and population products published on 29 August 2013 include:

‘Long-term international migration within the UK’ is highlighted on the Population theme page on the ONS website. 

An overview of population statistics is produced by ONS. This includes information on migration statistics.

5. 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% 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. Between 700,000 and 800,000 people are interviewed on the IPS each year. Of those interviewed, approximately 4,000-5,000 people each year are identified as long-term international migrants.

Long-Term International Migration (LTIM)

Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) estimates are produced by combining migration data from the IPS, Home Office data on asylum seekers, migration to and from Northern Ireland (from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) and adjustments for visitor switchers and migrant switchers.

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 high value 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.

World Regions

The Home Office and DWP both use world region classifications. DWP have a breakdown of “Europe” into non-EU, EU accession countries and EU excluding non-accession countries. The Home Office only have a combined “Europe” category that in practice virtually consists of European states, including Turkey, that excluding the European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals (EEA and Swiss nationality generally do not require visas to enter the UK). The DWP classification also combines the Home Office Asia and Middle East categories. The Home Office Europe” classification, unlike the DWP classification, also includes the former Soviet Central Asian republics and has some other minor definitional differences. The categories “Oceania” and “Australasia and Oceania” are the same, again apart from minor definitional differences.

6. 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 August 2013. The department releasing each product is indicated.

MSQR Information for Users (306.8 Kb Pdf)  includes guidance on comparing the data sources, and quality information (ONS)

Quality and Methodology Information for International Migration (ONS) (327.8 Kb Pdf)

International Passenger Survey: Quality Information in Relation to Migration Flows (ONS) (500.4 Kb Pdf)

Quarterly releases on 29 August 2013:

1. Immigration Statistics April-June 2013 (Home Office)

2. Provisional Long-Term International Migration, year ending December 2012 (ONS)

Annual releases on 29 August 2013:

Local Area Migration Indicators data (ONS) (5.67 Mb Excel sheet)

National Insurance Number (NINo) Allocations to Adult Overseas Nationals to March 2013 (DWP)

Population by Country of Birth and Nationality Report (ONS)

Population by Country of Birth and Nationality tables (ONS) (263.5 Kb Excel sheet)

Underlying Datasets for Country of Birth and Nationality tables (ONS) (2.08 Mb Excel sheet)

Population by country of birth and nationality from the Annual Population Survey (for Scottish council areas): January to December 2011 (NRS)

Published on 14 August 2013:

Labour Market Statistics August 2013 (ONS) . This includes estimates of the number of people in employment in the UK by country of birth and nationality. 

Published on 29 November 2012:

1. The International Migration Timeline (ONS)

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

7. Future releases

The remaining quarterly migration release date in 2013 is:

  • Thursday 28 November.

The final long-term international migration figures for the calendar year 2012 will be published 28 November 2013.

Background notes

  1. The Migration Statistics Quarterly Report is produced in partnership with the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  2. Terms and conditions             
                 
    A National Statistics publication             
                 
    National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They are produced free from any political interference. The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics: 

    • meet identified user needs; 

    • are well explained and readily accessible

    • are produced according to sound methods, and 

    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

     

  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

  4. A list of those with Pre-release access (44.5 Kb Pdf)  to the MSQR and associated migration products is available
  5. 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
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.