Skip to content

Statistical bulletin: Short-Term International Migration Annual Report – Year Ending Mid-2012 Estimates This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 29 May 2014 Download PDF

Key Points

  • Short-term international emigration was higher than short-term international immigration in mid-2012: 225,000 visits were made to England and Wales for 3-12 months, compared to 351,000 visits away from England and Wales for 3-12 months.
  • 8 out of every 10 short-term international visits for 3-12 months made by England and Wales residents away from the UK in mid-2012 were for ‘other’ reasons, such as holidays and travelling and visiting family.
  • Short-term international emigration for 3-12 months by England and Wales residents aged 65 and over was 66,000 in mid-2012, a statistically significant increase from 39,000 the previous year and the highest estimate since mid-2008.
  • France and India were the most common countries visited by England and Wales residents for 3-12 months in mid-2012.
  • 4 out of every 10 short-term international visits to England and Wales for 3-12 months were for ‘other’ reasons, such as holidays and visiting family, with a further 3 in 10 visits made to study (63,000 visits).
  • 2 out of every 10 short-term international visits to England and Wales for 3-12 months were for employment in mid-2012 (47,000 visits), with a further 1 in 10 (22,000 visits) made on business for an overseas employer.
  • India and Poland were the most common countries of residence for short-term migrants visiting England and Wales for 3-12 months.
  • 202,000 short-term (less than 1 year) visas were issued in 2013 (work, study and student visitor categories); this figure has gradually increased from 139,000 in 2009. The majority of short-term visas in 2013 were issued to nationals of Asian countries (107,000).
  • Local authorities in London had the highest estimates of short-term international immigration for both employment and study in mid-2012.

Introduction

Welcome to the Short-Term International Migration Annual Report (STIMAR). A short-term migrant is someone who visits a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of less than one year, as opposed to a long-term migrant, who changes their country of usual residence for a year or more. This statistical bulletin contains:

  • Estimates of short-term international migration to and from the UK for England and Wales (latest provisional data is for the year ending mid-2012);

  • Estimates of short-term international immigration from outside the UK to local authorities in England and Wales (latest provisional data is for the year ending mid-2012); and

  • Home Office data on the number of short-term entry clearance visas issued (latest data is for the year ending December 2013).

Short-term international migration statistics have been developed in response to users’ requirements for more information on population and migration, and on the characteristics of migrants. Local authorities are among the major users of short-term immigration statistics. They use estimates for planning and monitoring service delivery, resource allocation and managing budgets. Short-term international immigration estimates provide additional information about the migrant population that is present in England and Wales for less than a year and therefore does not appear in the ONS mid- year population estimates, as they are not considered usual residents.

For further information about how these statistics are used and their fitness for purpose, please refer to the Quality and Methodology Information for Short-Term International Migration Estimates for England and Wales (308.7 Kb Pdf)  and the Quality and Methodology Information for Short-term International Migration Estimates for Local Authorities (229.2 Kb Pdf) .

Short-term international migration estimates for England and Wales have been released annually since 2007 and were initially developed as part of the Migration Statistics Improvement Programme. Short-term international immigration estimates for local authorities were first released as experimental statistics in February 2012.

The statistics presented in this bulletin were designated as National Statistics following assessment by the UK Statistics Authority in May 2013. For more information please refer to the Authority’s report Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics on Short-term International Immigration for England and Wales.

The remainder of the STIMAR is structured as follows.

  • Section 1 analyses what the latest figures show about short-term international migration over time.

  • Section 2 shows how many short-term migrants are in or away from the UK at any one time.

  • Section 3 examines trends in short-term international migration for work.

  • Section 4 looks at short-term international migration for study.

  • Section 5 analyses short-term international migration for other reasons.

  • Section 6 analyses short-term international migration estimates by citizenship and country of residence.

  • Annex A: Definition of short-term international migration outlines the different definitions of short-term international migration used in this bulletin.

  • The glossary provides definitions of terms used in the STIMAR.

  • Useful links provides a list of other relevant publications.

We would welcome your feedback on this bulletin; please email your comments to migstatsunit@ons.gsi.gov.uk

1. What Do the Latest Figures Show About Short-Term International Migration Over Time?

The majority of the STIMAR refers to short-term international migration for 3-12 months, as these people are less likely to be visiting for holidays and perhaps more likely to use public services than those staying for only one or two months. However, to provide a wider context and demonstrate the differences between the different definitions of short-term international migration, this section shows estimates for both 1-12 months and 3-12 months, in the context of trends since mid-2004 (the earliest data available).

There is evidence to suggest that long-term international migration was underestimated between 2004 and 2008, due to an inadequate sampling design and coverage of the IPS which meant that a substantial amount of immigration, particularly of EU8 citizens, was missed during these years, prior to IPS improvements from 2009. This inadequate coverage of some routes will also have caused some short-term migrants to be missed. However, due to a lack of comparative data sources, it is not possible to quantify the scale of the difference. For more information, please refer to the Quality of Long-Term International Migration estimates from 2001 to 2011 - Full Report (1.04 Mb Pdf) .

Figure 1.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for All Main Reasons for Migration, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012

Figure 1.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for All Main Reasons for Migration, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional

Download chart

Figure 1.1 shows that under both definitions of short-term international migration, there are more short-term emigration visits by usual residents of England and Wales to other countries than there are visits to England and Wales by usual residents of other countries in each year for which estimates are available. There are also considerably higher short-term international migration flows for periods of 1-12 months than there are for 3-12 months. This is largely due to the 1-12 months definition capturing more visits made for holidays and to visit family and friends.

Short-Term Immigration to the UK

There were an estimated 1,019,000 short-term international visits to England and Wales for 1-12 months in mid-2012; compared with 1,098,000 the previous year. There was a gradual decrease in short-term immigration to England and Wales for 1-12 months from a peak of 1,437,000 visits in mid-2006 to 996,000 in mid-2010, since which time short-term immigration for 1-12 months has remained broadly steady.

Short-term immigration for 3-12 months was an estimated 225,000 in mid-2012, compared with 236,000 in mid-2011. Similarly to short-term international migration for 1-12 months, there was a gradual decrease in short-term international migration for 3-12 months, from 374,000 in mid-2006 to 213,000 in mid-2010.

Short-Term Emigration from the UK

In mid-2012, there were an estimated 2,362,000 short-term visits by England and Wales residents away from the UK for 1-12 months, a statistically significant decrease from 2,539,000 in mid-2011. This decrease continues a broadly downward trend in short-term emigration for 1-12 months, from a peak of 2,779,000 visits in mid-2008.

There were an estimated 351,000 visits away from the UK by England and Wales residents for 3-12 months in mid-2012, compared with 366,000 visits in mid-2011. There was a slight (but not statistically significant) decrease in short-term international emigration for 3-12 months between mid-2008 and mid-2009, since which time the figures have remained broadly similar.

Short-term Immigration and Emigration by Age and Sex

Of short-term international visits to England and Wales for 3-12 months in mid-2012, 54% (121,000) were made by females and 46% (103,000) by males. The overall distribution of males and females making short-term international visits to England and Wales has remained broadly even since mid-2004. Regarding short-term emigration, in mid-2012 55% (192,000) of all short-term visits away from the UK by England and Wales residents for 3-12 months were made by males and 44% (156,000) by females. Again, these proportions have remained broadly similar since mid-2004.

Figure 1.2: Short-Term International Migration Flows for 3-12 Months for All Main Reasons for Migration by Age, England and Wales, mid-2012

Figure 1.2: Short-Term International Migration Flows for 3-12 Months for All Main Reasons for Migration by Age, England and Wales, mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional

Download chart

Figure 1.2 shows that 16-24 was the most common age for both short-term immigration and emigration in mid-2012. In this mid-year, just over 1 in 3 (88,000) short-term international visits to England and Wales were made by 16-24 year-olds and this has been the most common age group for short-term immigration in each year since mid-2004. The next most common age for short-term immigration is 25-34; in mid-2012, 70,000 visits of 3-12 months were made by people of this age to England and Wales, similar to 67,000 in the previous year.

The age of short-term emigrants leaving England and Wales is more varied than the age of short-term immigrants visiting England and Wales. While visits by those aged 16-34 accounted for just under half (169,000) of all short-term international visits away from England and Wales for 3-12 months in mid-2012, there was also a statistically significant increase in short-term international visits by those aged 65 and over, to 66,000 in mid-2012, from 39,000 the previous year. 66,000 is the highest estimate of short-term emigration for those aged 65 and over since mid-2008. The relatively high level of short-term emigration amongst those aged 65 and over in mid-2012 could be attributed to people choosing to spend short periods of their retirement abroad. Further analysis of the data show that of the 66,000 international visits made by England and Wales residents aged 65 and over in mid-2012, 53% (35,000) were made for ‘holiday or pleasure’ and a further 42% (28,000) made to visit family.

How Do Short-Term International Migration Estimates for 1-12 Months and 3-12 Months Differ?

The remainder of this report focuses on short-term international migration estimates that use the 3-12 months (all reasons) definition. The 1-12 month definition of short-term international migration features a large number of those visiting for ‘other reasons’, particularly for those leaving England and Wales, who tend to be British. The 1-12 month visits are more likely to be for recreation or visiting friends and relatives. Students and workers make up a higher proportion of short-term migrants visiting for periods of 3-12 months. This group are more likely to use resources and services in their destination country than those visiting for 1-12 months. Therefore, the remainder of the STIMAR concentrates mostly on short-term international migration for 3-12 months.

2. How Many Short-Term Migrants Are In or Away from the UK at Any One Time?

Short-term international migration estimates can also be used to estimate the impact of short-term international migration on the overall population. For example, if four migrants each stayed in England and Wales for three months, this would be the equivalent of one person staying for one year, and so the ‘stock’ count would be 1. Likewise two migrants staying for six months would give the equivalent of one person staying for one year. In the second example the number of arrivals is half that of the first example, but results in the same stock estimate. Stocks are calculated from the number of stays and the length of stay, so an increase in either can lead to an increase in stocks. Stocks give an average number of migrants in the country on an average day. For more information about how short-term international migration stocks are calculated, please refer to the Short-term international migration methodology - national estimates (218.1 Kb Pdf) . Stock estimates are referred to as 'in-stock', that is, those coming into England and Wales, and ‘out-stock’, those who have left England and Wales.

Figure 2.1 shows that throughout mid-2004 to mid-2012, the out-stock of short-term migrants has been higher than the in-stock. On an average day in mid-2012 (that is, the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012), there would have been approximately 10 short-term migrants in England and Wales from outside the UK, for every 15 usual residents of England and Wales living abroad for 3-12 months. An estimate of net short-term international migration based on flows data is not appropriate (for more information, please refer to Annex A: Definition of short-term international migration), but these stocks estimates do show that the effect of short-term international migration on the resident population in any one year is negative.

Figure 2.1: Average Stocks of Short-Term Migrants for 3-12 Months for All Main Reasons for Migration, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012

Figure 2.1: Average Stocks of Short-Term Migrants for 3-12 Months for All Main Reasons for Migration, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional

Download chart

Both short-term migrant in-stocks and out-stocks for 3-12 months in mid-2012 are similar to the previous year. The in-stock of short-term migrants for 3-12 months in mid-2012 was 94,000, similar to 97,000 the previous year, but lower than a peak of 149,000 in mid-2006. This reflects the trend for short-term immigration flows, with most of the decrease taking place between mid-2006 and mid-2010. With regards to out-stocks, there were an estimated 136,000 short-term emigrants away from England and Wales at any one time during mid-2012, compared with 147,000 the previous year. The out-stock of short-term emigrants away from England and Wales peaked in mid-2007 at 181,000 and has since gradually decreased overall. The estimate of 136,000 in mid-2012 is the lowest recorded estimate of migrant out-stock since mid-2004, the earliest year for which estimates are available.

3. Short-Term International Migration for Employment

This section explores patterns of short-term international migration for 3-12 months for employment (including those looking for a job). There are two definitions of 'employment' to consider:

  • Employment as defined by the UN (henceforth referred to as Employment) refers to the UN definition of employment, which includes migrants going to a definite new job, including au pair work, and those seeking a job, but excludes those visiting on business for their existing employer.

  • Other Employment (henceforth referred to as Business) refers to migrants visiting on business for their existing employer and for self-employment.

Short-term international immigration for employment and business accounted for 31% of all short-term international visits to England and Wales in mid-2012. Since mid-2004, approximately 3 in 10 short-term international visits to England and Wales from outside the UK for 3-12 months each year have been for employment or business reasons.

In contrast, employment and business accounted for 13% of all short-term international visits away from England and Wales in mid-2012, likely due to the larger number of international visits made away from England and Wales for ‘other’ reasons, not related to work. This proportion has remained broadly similar since mid-2004.

Figure 3.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for Employment and Business for 3-12 Months, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012

Figure 3.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for Employment and Business for 3-12 Months, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional
  2. Estimates of short-term international migration flows are based on a sample survey. As a result, small estimates are subject to a greater degree of uncertainty. Therefore, some of the apparent changes shown in Figure 3.1 could be due to random variability between the samples selected in each year.

Download chart

Figure 3.1 shows that in mid-2012, 47,000 international visits were made to England and Wales for 3-12 months for employment, compared with 34,000 in mid-2011. However, there has been a steady and statistically significant decrease in short-term immigration for employment over the years since mid-2006, when the estimate peaked at 108,000. Short-term immigration for business was 22,000 in mid-2012 and has remained broadly similar since mid-2008, following a slight (but not statistically significant) decrease between mid-2008 and mid-2009.

Comparisons of citizenship and short-term immigration for employment show that of visits to England and Wales for employment in mid-2012, 83% (39,000) were made by EU citizens. For non EU-citizens, short-term immigration for business was more common, with 2 in 3 (14,000) visits made for business in mid-2012.

Figure 3.1 also shows that the number of short-term international visits made by non-UK residents to England and Wales for employment is consistently higher than short-term international visits overseas for employment made by usual residents of England and Wales. With regards to short-term international emigration, there was no statistically significant difference between the number of international visits away from England and Wales for employment (27,000 visits) and business (20,000 visits) in mid-2012. The majority (89%) of international visits away from England and Wales for 3-12 months for employment and business were made by British citizens.

Analysis of short-term international migration by sex shows that in mid-2012, males accounted for more short-term migration for work than females, but that the proportions varied across short-term immigration and emigration and employment and business. With regards to short-term immigration to England and Wales, a greater proportion of international visits for employment to England and Wales were made by males than international visits for business, while for short-term emigration from England and Wales, a greater proportion of international visits for business were made by males than international visits for employment.

The majority of short-term international visits for employment and business are made by those aged between 16 and 34. In mid-2012, 48% (23,000) of all short-term international visits for employment were made by those aged 16-24, with a further 41% (19,000) aged 25-34. Those making short-term international visits to England and Wales for business were slightly older, with 51% (11,000) aged 25-44 and 28% (6,000) aged 16-24. With regards to short-term emigration from England and Wales, 7 in 10 short term international visits for both employment and business were made by those aged between 16 and 34.

Short-Term Visas for Work

Home Office data on the number of entry clearance visas issued shows that of the 155,000 work visas issued in 2013, 62,000 were short-term (less than 1 year). Of the short-term work visas, 12% were for less than 3 months, 41% for between 3 and 6 months and a further 46% were for from 6 months to less than a year. Work and study visas are mainly issued under the different tiers of the Points Based System (PBS)

The latest figures show that from 2012 to 2013, there was a 9% (5,000) increase in short-term work visas issued, from 57,000 to 62,000. Trends over time show that after broadly falling from 2006, the number of short-term work visas issued increased by 80% from 34,000 in 2009 to 62,000 in 2013.

For more detailed information about how trends in visas for work compare to visas for study, please see section 4, Short-Term International Migration for Study.

Short-Term International Immigration for Employment by Local Authority

Using a range of administrative data sources, it is possible to estimate the number of short-term international visits made to each local authority in England and Wales for employment reasons for 3-12 months. For more information about how local authority estimates are calculated, please refer to the Short-term international migration methodology - local authority estimates (167.1 Kb Pdf) .

Short-term international immigration visits for work, by local or unitary authority, mid-2012

London, Peterborough and the County of Herefordshire had the largest estimates of short-term immigration for work in mid-2012.
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download map

  • PNG
    (585.7 Kb)
In mid-2012, there were 47,000 short-term international visits to England and Wales from outside the UK for 3-12 months for employment, compared with 34,000 the previous year. Map 1 shows that the highest estimates of short-term international visits made for employment were for London and the East of England. In mid-2012, one in three (16,968) short-term international visits for employment for 3-12 months were to London boroughs, with a further 11% (4,918) to the East of England. The North East (1%, 634) and Wales (2%, 946) had the lowest estimates of short-term migration for employment for 3-12 months. These trends are reflected in Table 3.1, which shows the ten local authorities in England and Wales with the highest estimates of short-term international migration for employment in mid-2012, alongside the estimates for previous mid-years. With the exception of Peterborough and the County of Herefordshire (both areas where seasonal agricultural workers are more likely to be employed), the areas are in London and have all shown increases between mid-2011 and mid-2012.

Table 3.1: Ten local authorities in England and Wales with the largest estimates of short-term international immigration for employment in mid-2012, mid years 2008 to 2012

Local Authority Mid-2008 Mid-2009 Mid-2010 Mid-2011 Mid-2012p
Newham 2,194 1,348 1,587 938 1,512
Brent 2,093 1,220 1,310 634 1,103
Waltham Forest 1,508 889 1,087 660 1,102
Haringey 1,593 1,006 1,203 654 1,046
Westminster 1,172 981 1,220 682 978
Tower Hamlets 1,073 925 1,137 600 889
Peterborough 660 253 475 682 811
Ealing 1,307 764 878 563 795
County of Herefordshire 797 356 198 217 750
Lambeth 949 776 955 473 712

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. p = provisional

Download table

4. Short-Term International Migration for Study

This section explores patterns of short-term international migration for 3-12 months for study, which includes all formal higher and further education and excludes evening classes and informal tuition. Of the 225,000 short-term international visits to England and Wales in mid-2012, 28% (63,000) were made for study purposes. By contrast, of visits made by England and Wales residents overseas for 3-12 months in mid-2012, only 3% (10,000) were made for study.

Figure 4.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for Study for 3-12 Months, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012

Figure 4.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for Study for 3-12 Months, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional
  2. Estimates of short-term international migration flows are based on a sample survey. As a result, small estimates are subject to a greater degree of uncertainty. Therefore, some of the apparent changes shown in Figure 4.1 could be due to random variability between the samples selected in each year.

Download chart

Figure 4.1 shows that in each year for which data are available, considerably more short-term international visits have been made to England and Wales for 3-12 months to study than have been made away from England and Wales to study. In mid-2012, short-term immigration for study was 63,000, similar to 64,000 the previous year. Short-term immigration for study has remained at a similar level since mid-2008, after decreasing from a peak of 82,000 in mid-2006.

Short-term emigration for study was 10,000 in mid-2012 and has remained at a broadly similar level since mid-2009.

Comparisons of citizenship and short-term immigration for study show that of those international visits to England and Wales for study in mid-2012, 67% (42,000) were made by citizens of non-EU countries. This proportion has increased from 51% (33,000) in mid-2008, when 65,000 international visits were made to England and Wales for 3-12 months. In mid-2012, 2 in 3 short-term international visits for study were made by females (42,000) and 1 in 3 by males (22,000).

The majority of short-term international migration for study takes place amongst those aged between 16 and 24. In mid-2012, 66% of short-term immigration (39,000 visits) and 69% of short-term emigration (7,000 visits) took place amongst 16-24 year-olds.

Short-Term Visas for Study

There are two kinds of study visa referenced in this report; short-term (less than a year) study visas, which denote those visas issued through the main study visa system, and student visitor visas, which are issued through the separate student visitor scheme. For more information about student visitors, please refer to the glossary.

In 2013, 62,000 regular study short-term visas and 78,000 student visitor visas were issued. Of the 78,000 student visitor visas issued, 83% were issued for up to 6 months and 17% were issued for the extended period of up to 11 months. Work and study visas are issued under the different tiers of the Points Based System (PBS).

Combining the short-term regular study visas and student visitor visas together gives 96,000 visas that were issued for less than 6 months (69%) and 44,000 (31%) for more than 6 months but less than a year.

Figure 4.2 shows trends in short-term visas issued for work, study and student visitor visas for 2005 onwards. There is evidence that recent increases in total visas issued (excluding visit and transit visas) have reflected higher numbers of short-term visas. The short story, Entry Clearance Visas by Length, indicated that the increase from 2012 to 2013 in total visas issued, excluding visit and transit visas, was accounted for by higher numbers of short-term (less than one year) visas.

Figure 4.2: Short-Term UK Entry Clearance Visas Issued for Work, Study and Student Visitors, by Reason, 2005–2013

Figure 4.2: Short-Term UK Entry Clearance Visas Issued for Work, Study and Student Visitors, by Reason, 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.
  3. Figures may be slightly different from those published in Immigration Statistics January-March 2014 due to timing differences and use of different (but closely comparable) extracts to produce figures.
  4. Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU at the start of 2007, meaning that Bulgarian and Romanian nationals no longer required visas to enter the UK, though they have been subject to transitional controls that ended on 31 December 2013.

Download chart

Of the 219,000 regular study visas issued in 2013, 62,000 were short-term. Of these short-term regular study visas, 10% were for less than 3 months, 41% for between 3 and 6 months and a further 49% were for from 6 months to less than a year. The number of short-term regular study visas issued fell from 68,000 in 2006 to 62,000 in 2008. The number was then higher at 67,000 in 2009 and 65,000 in 2010, reaching a peak of 68,000 in the year ending June 2011. The numbers then fell noticeably to 53,000 in 2012 and have more gradually risen back to 62,000 in 2013.

There was a 14% (37,000) increase for student visitor admissions from 262,000 in 2011 to 299,000 in 2012 (the most recent year available), including an increase of 30,000 for USA nationals. This includes large numbers of admissions for non-visa nationals (such as USA and Brazilian nationals) who if studying for less than six months do not require a visa. Of those admitted as student visitors in 2012, nearly half (48%) were from the USA (145,000) with Brazil, Russia and Japan the next largest nationalities (each with 6%, respectively 19,000, 18,000 and 17,000).

Over time, student visitor visas have been generally increasing, apart from a small decrease in 2009. Between 2009 and 2013 the number more than doubled from 38,000 to 78,000.

If students intend to study for less than 6 months they also have the option of applying for a visa under the student visitor scheme (though there are generally more restrictions on student visitors). This will have an influence on the numbers of those applying for short-term regular study visa of less than 6 months duration.

Table 4.1 contains a summary of the most recent short-term work, regular study and student visitor visa numbers as well as student visitor admissions.

Table 4.1: Latest number of short-term visas issued for work, regular study and student visitors and student visitor admissions, 2012 and 2013

Type Total Short-term migrant under UN definition
Number (thousands) Percentage
2013     If stay between 3 months and less than a year
All work visas 155  
   Of which, short term 62 100%
     Less than 3 months 8 12%
     3 to 6 months 25 41%
     6 months to a year 29 46%
All study visas 219   If stay between 3 months and less than a year
   Of which, short term 62 100%
   Less than 3 months 6 10%
     3 to 6 months 25 41%
     6 months to a year 31 49%
Student visitor visas 78 100% If stay greater than 3 months
     6 months 65 83%
     11 months 13 17%
Short-term study and student visas 140   If stay greater than 3 months
     Up to 6 months 96 69%
     6 months to a year 44 31%
2012     If stay greater than 3 months
Student visitor admissions 299  

Table source: Home Office

Download table

Short-Term International Immigration for Study by Local Authority

Using a range of administrative data sources, it is possible to estimate the number of short-term international visits made to each local authority in England and Wales for study reasons for 3-12 months. For more information about how local authority estimates are calculated, please refer to the Short-term international migration methodology - local authority estimates (167.1 Kb Pdf) .

In mid-2012, 63,000 short-term international visits were made to England and Wales from outside the UK for 3-12 months for study, similar to 64,000 in the previous year. Map 2 shows how these visits were distributed across local and unitary authorities in England and Wales.

Short-term international immigration visits for study, by local or unitary authority, mid-2012

London, Sheffield, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge and other cities with universities had the largest estimates of short-term immigration for study in mid-2012.
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download map

  • PNG
    (595.1 Kb)
Map 2 shows that, similarly to employment, the highest estimates of short-term immigration for study are also in London, to which 37% (23,411) of all short-term international visits were made in mid-2012. A further 13% (8,110) of short-term international visits to England and Wales for study were made to local authorities in South East England. Several local authorities home to large universities, such as Oxford (1,576 visits), Cambridge (1,612 visits) and Nottingham (1,546 visits), also had high estimates of short-term immigration for study, compared to elsewhere in England and Wales. Table 4.2 shows the ten local authorities in England and Wales with the highest estimates of short-term international immigration for study in mid-2012, alongside the estimates for previous mid-years. Three of the areas are London boroughs and the remainder are cities home to multiple universities and further education providers. Estimates for each have area have shown increases between mid-2011 and mid-2012, although the size of the increases varies between local areas.

Table 4.2: Top ten local authorities in England and Wales with the largest estimate of short-term international immigration for study in mid-2012, mid years 2008 to 2012

Local Authority Mid-2008 Mid-2009 Mid-2010 Mid-2011 Mid-2012p
Newham 1,913 1,990 2,298 2,529 2,645
Sheffield 1,726 1,809 1,625 1,373 2,020
Westminster 1,816 2,095 1,949 1,776 1,795
Manchester 1,880 1,905 1,914 1,733 1,737
Cambridge 1,314 1,298 1,470 1,392 1,612
Oxford 1,843 1,892 1,796 1,267 1,576
Camden 1,421 1,586 1,906 1,312 1,548
Nottingham 1,588 1,628 1,594 1,172 1,546
Birmingham 1,360 1,456 1,435 1,260 1,539
Liverpool 1,349 1,330 1,427 1,035 1,390

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. p = provisional

Download table

5. Short-Term International Migration for Other Reasons

'Other' reasons for short-term international migration include all reasons which do not fall under the categories of study or work (either employment as defined by the UN, or business travel). Therefore, other reasons for short-term international migration can include activities such as:

  • Holidays and travelling;

  • Working holidays and volunteering;

  • Medical treatment;

  • Religious pilgrimage;

  • Visiting family and friends; and

  • Accompanying or joining others.

Figure 5.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for 3-12 Months by Main Reason for Migration, England and Wales, provisional mid-2012 estimates

Figure 5.1: Short-Term International Migration Flows for 3-12 Months by Main Reason for Migration, England and Wales, provisional mid-2012 estimates
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

As shown in Figure 5.1, other reasons are the most common main reason for short-term international migration both to and from England and Wales. In mid-2012, there were 92,000 short-term international visits to England and Wales for 3-12 months for other reasons, compared with 114,000 in mid-2011. Short-term international immigration for other reasons has remained at a broadly similar level since mid-2007. Of short-term international visits to England and Wales for other reasons in mid-2012, 61% (56,000) were made by non-EU citizens.

With regards to short-term emigration, 293,000 short-term international visits for 3-12 months were made away from England and Wales in mid-2012, compared to 301,000 the previous year. Other reasons accounted for approximately 4 out of every 5 short-term international visits away from England and Wales in mid-2012. 62% of short-term emigration for other reasons in mid-2012 was undertaken by British citizens (181,000 visits) and a further 28% (82,000 visits) by non-EU citizens.

Unlike short-term international migration for employment or study, the age distribution of short-term international migration for other reasons is more even across age groups and less concentrated amongst working-age adults. For example, in mid-2012, approximately 1 in 6 short-term international visits to England and Wales and 1 in 5 short-term international visits away from England and Wales were made by those aged 65 and over.

6. Short-Term International Migration by Citizenship and Country of Residence

Citizenship

Provisional short-term international migration estimates for mid-2012 show that overall inflows to England and Wales were 225,000, 8% (17,000) of which were visits by British citizens and 92% (208,000) of which were visits by non-British citizens. Outflows from England and Wales were 351,000, 2 in 3 (232,000) of which were visits by British citizens and 1 in 3 (119,000) of which were visits by non-British citizens. These estimates are statistically at a similar level to those seen in mid-2011. Figure 6.1 shows short-term immigration estimates for different citizenship groups in more detail.

Figure 6.1: Short-Term International Immigration for 3-12 Months, by Citizenship, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012

Figure 6.1: Short-Term International Immigration for 3-12 Months, by Citizenship, England and Wales, mid-2004 to mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional
  2. Separate estimates of short-term international migration flows for the EU2 (Bulgaria and Romania) are only available from mid-2007 onwards.
  3. For definitions of which countries are included in the groupings EU15, EU8, Commonwealth and Other Foreign, please refer to the glossary.
  4. Estimates of short-term international migration flows are based on a sample survey. As a result, small estimates are subject to a greater degree of uncertainty. Therefore, some of the apparent changes shown in Figure 6.1 could be due to random variability between the samples selected in each year.

Download chart

There have not been any statistically significant changes in the estimates of British citizens visiting England and Wales from outside the UK for 3-12 months since mid-2004. In mid-2012 the citizenship group making the largest number of short-term international visits to England and Wales for 3-12 months were non-EU citizens, with 119,000 visits. This compares with 123,000 in mid-2011. Non-EU citizens have accounted for the largest number of international visits to England and Wales for the last 4 years. Between mid-2004, the first year for which a published time series is available, and mid-2008 the citizenship group making the largest number of international visits varied. More specifically, in mid-2012 international visits by non-EU citizens comprised an estimated 59,000 visits by Commonwealth citizens (12,000 Old Commonwealth and 46,000 New Commonwealth) and 60,000 visits by other foreign citizens. There are no statistically significant differences between these figures and those seen in mid-2011. There has however been a statistically significant overall decline in international visits to England and Wales by all non-EU citizens since mid-2004, with the exception of visits by New Commonwealth citizens.

There were an estimated 89,000 international visits to England and Wales for 3-12 months by EU citizens in mid-2012. Of these visits, 46% (41,000) were made by EU15 citizens, 40% (36,000) were made by EU8 citizens and 13% (12,000) were made by EU2 citizens. There are no statistically significant differences between these and the previous year’s figures. However, since short-term EU immigration peaked in mid-2006, there has been a decline in international visits by EU citizens to England and Wales, compared to the mid-2004 figures.

As would be expected, British citizens make the largest proportion of international visits away from England and Wales for 3-12 months. In mid-2012, the provisional estimate is 232,000, similar to the mid-2011 estimate of 233,000. Since mid-2004, when an estimated 344,000 British citizens made international visits away from England and Wales for 3-12 months, there has been no statistically significant change in these figures from one year to the next, except between mid-2008 and mid-2009, when the estimate decreased from 325,000 to 255,000.

Country of Residence and Country Visited

In the context of short-term international migration, country of last residence refers to the country from which short-term immigrants to England and Wales have arrived from, whilst country visited refers to the country being visited by usual residents of England and Wales who have become short-term emigrants.

Figure 6.2: Short-Term International Immigration for 3-12 Months, by Five Most Common Countries of Residence in mid-2012, England and Wales, mid-2008 to mid-2012

Figure 6.2: Short-Term International Immigration for 3-12 Months, by Five Most Common Countries of Residence in mid-2012, England and Wales, mid-2008 to mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional

Download chart

Poland and India have been the two most common countries of residence amongst short-term international immigrants to England and Wales in each year since mid-2004. Estimates of short-term immigration from India have remained broadly similar over this time period, whereas the number of short-term international visits to England and Wales by residents of Poland has shown a statistically significant decrease over time, from a peak of 68,000 in mid-2005 and mid-2006, to 17,000 in mid-2012. The USA, Spain and Pakistan made up the remaining five most common countries of residence in mid-2012.

 

Figure 6.3: Short-Term International Emigration for 3-12 Months, by Five Most Common Countries Visited in mid-2012, England and Wales, mid-2008 to mid-2012

Figure 6.3: Short-Term International Emigration for 3-12 Months, by Five Most Common Countries Visited in mid-2012, England and Wales, mid-2008 to mid-2012
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. p = provisional

Download chart

France was the most commonly visited country by usual residents of England and Wales emigrating for 3-12 months in mid-2012, with 26,000 visits. Between mid-2011 and mid-2012, Australia moved from first to sixth, and France from sixth to first, of the ten most commonly visited countries by short-term emigrants from England and Wales. Although not shown in Figure 6.3 because it was no longer a top five country in mid-2012, there was a statistically significant decrease in the number of visits to Australia by England and Wales residents in mid-2012 to 15,000, from 32,000 in mid-2011.

Short-Term Visas by Nationality

Figure 6.4 shows trends in short-term visas issued for less than 12 months for work and study combined (including student visitors) by world region of nationality, since 2005, excluding a small number of visas that cannot be ascribed to a world area and are categorised as 'Other'.

Figure 6.4: Short-Term UK Entry Clearance Visas Issued for Work and Study (Including Student Visitors), by World Region of Nationality, 2005–2013

Figure 6.4: Short-Term UK Entry Clearance Visas Issued for Work and Study (Including Student Visitors), by World Region of Nationality, 2005–2013
Source: Home Office

Notes:

  1. A small number (under 500 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 normally require a visa to enter the UK. However some EEA nationals do apply and are issued visas.
  3. Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU at the start of 2007, this meaning that Bulgarian and Romanian nationals no longer required visas to enter the UK, though they have been subject to transitional controls.

Download chart

Total short-term visas issued fell from 159,000 in 2006 to 139,000 in 2009 and have since broadly risen, reaching 202,000 in 2013.

Over the period 2006 to 2009 there were notable falls for short-term visas issued to European nationals (-35,000, or -59%). The largest falls were for Russia (falling 17,000), Ukraine (falling 6,000), Bulgaria (falling 4,000) and Romania (falling 3,000). Most of the 35,000 fall was accounted for by 20,000 fewer work-related visas, along with 11,000 fewer regular study visas.

Part of the fall for European nationals was a consequence of Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU at the start of 2007, which meant that their nationals no longer required visas to enter the UK (these two nationalities together had previously recorded 6,000, 500, and 140 work, regular study and short-term student visas respectively in 2006). However, Bulgaria and Romania accounted for only a small part of the fall for European nationals from 2006 to 2009 noted above.

The 63,000 increase in the total short-term visas from 2009 (139,000) to 2013 (202,000), was largely accounted for by an increase of 45,000 for Asian nationals, together with increases of 9,000, 6,000 and 4,000 for European, Middle Eastern and African nationals respectively.

Looking at the change from 2009 to 2013 by reason, this was accounted for by an increase of 27,000 work visas (of which 23,000 was accounted for by Asian nationals), a fall of 5,000 in regular study visas and an increase of 40,000 in student visitor visas (mostly accounted for by increases for Asian, European, Middle East and African nationals of 14,000, 11,000, 8,000 and 4,000 respectively).

Annex A: Definition of Short-Term International Migration

Estimates of short-term international migration for England and Wales are available on the basis of three definitions.

  1. The 1-12 months definition, which includes those migrating for all reasons;

  2. The 3-12 months definition, which also includes those migrating for all reasons; and

  3. The United Nations (UN) definition, which states that 'a short-term migrant is a person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least three months but less than a year (12 months) except in cases where the movement to that country is for purposes of recreation, holiday, visits to friends or relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage.' In practice, this is defined as a visit of 3-12 months for the purpose of work or study.

To be included as a short-term international immigrant to England and Wales under any of these definitions, a person arriving must have been living outside the UK for 12 months or more (these tend to be foreign citizens, but can include British citizens). A short-term international emigrant from England and Wales must have been living in the UK for 12 months or more prior to leaving (these tend to be British citizens, but include other residents).

The UN definition is used to allow international comparisons and is also the only available definition for estimates of short-term international migration to local authorities. The UN definition of ‘work’ refers to working for an employer in the destination country and excludes business trips where a migrant is paid by an organisation in their country of origin. The UN definition of ‘study’ refers to Higher and Further Education courses and excludes evening classes and informal tuition.

Short-term migrants who stay for 3-12 months are more likely to use local services and become economically active; therefore, this bulletin focuses on migrants staying for 3-12 months (definition 2), although some figures for 1-12 month stays are also provided for comparison.

Short-term international migration estimates relate to the number of migration events rather than the number of people. For example, under the 1-12 months definition, this means that if one person enters or leaves the UK for more than a month, more than once, each of their journeys to the UK is counted.

ONS estimates of short-term international migration, for all three definitions, refer to the mid-year, which is 1 July to 30 June. Home Office short-term visa data refer to calendar years.

What About Net Migration?

Unlike for Long-Term International Migration, there are no estimates of short-term international net migration flows. Short-term migrants do not stay for more than 12 months; therefore, they do not become ‘usually resident’. This means they are not included in population estimates, so calculating a net migration figure for short-term migrants does not have the value that it does for long-term international migration. In addition, short-term migrants coming to England and Wales are counted in as short-term migrants but not out as short-term migrants, because to be counted out as a short-term migrant, a person needs to have been resident in England and Wales for 12 months or more. Short-term international outflows from England and Wales are higher than short-term international inflows to England and Wales, so the net difference would be negative if it were possible to calculate.

The most appropriate estimates to use in order to estimate the impact of short-term international migration on the overall population are short-term international migration stocks. Stocks estimates are more meaningful because they estimate the average number of short-term migrants in the country on an average day in a 12 month period. For example, if four migrants each stayed in England and Wales for three months, this would be the equivalent of one person staying for one year, so the ‘stock’ count would be 1. Section 2 of this report analyses estimates of short-term international migration stocks.

How do ONS Short-Term International Migration Estimates Compare to Home Office Data on Short-Term Visas?

Visa data provides only partial coverage of short term migrants since it normally relates to those non- European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, who are subject to immigration control, and who require a visa. EEA nationals do not normally require a visa to enter the UK (although a small number of EEA nationals do apply and are issued with visas). Additionally, for those non-EEA nationals classified as 'non-visa nationals' (e.g. citizens of the USA, Brazil and Japan) a visa is not normally required for visits of less than 6 months. For more information about non-visa nationals, please refer to the glossary.

In this report, a short term visa is defined as being a visa of less than 12 months duration issued to those who have arrived in the UK for work or study; this definition is presented to better align visa data with the UN definition of short-term international migration. The figures presented relate to visas issued for entry clearance to the UK and do not relate to individual countries within the UK. The figures also include dependants.

It is important to recognise that visa duration does not necessarily represent length of stay. Many individuals will depart prior to the expiry date, whilst a proportion of these may also be granted extensions of stay. For example, it is not possible to determine whether a holder of a visa has actually stayed for 3 months or more.

At the boundary between long- and short-term visas only a small proportion of visas are issued for exactly a year (365 or 366 days). However, in 2013 these represented only 0.1% (700) of the total for all regular study visas (219,000); and 3% (5,000) of the total number of work visas (155,000).

Please also note that some data presented in this report is based on a more recent extract from the underlying administrative data source, and therefore may not exactly match totals published in the Home Office report, Immigration Statistics January to March 2013.

Where Do the Data Come From?

Estimates of short-term international migration are derived from the International Passenger Survey (IPS). The IPS is a survey of a random sample of passengers entering and leaving the UK by air, sea or the Channel Tunnel and is also used to calculate Long-Term International Migration estimates and Travel and Tourism statistics.

Short-term migrants are interviewed by the IPS at the end of their stay; therefore, if their actual reported length of stay is for 1-12 months and they match the above definitions, they will be included in the short-term international migration estimates. Since they have already completed their migration, they will not later become long-term migrants, so there is no overlap between short-term and long-term international migration estimates. However, there are overlaps between short-term international migration statistics, which count visits by ‘migrants’ of 1-12 months, and travel and tourism statistics, which count visits by ‘visitors’ of over 1 day but less than 12 months. Estimates of visitors are considerably higher than those of migrants. Although there is some overlapping sample between the two statistics, they examine different characteristics of the short-term visitors/migrants.

The mid-2012 estimates presented in this bulletin are provisional. This is because IPS data are only finalised when a full calendar year's interview data can be calibrated against annual passenger figures supplied to the IPS by the Civil Aviation Authority and the British Ports Authority. Mid-2012 estimates of short-term migration will include data collected up to 30 June 2013 (because short-term migrants are interviewed at the end of their stay). Provisional estimates are replaced with final estimates when the data are republished in the following year; for example, final mid-2011 estimates are included in this report, having been published as provisional estimates on 23 May 2013. In practice, only a very small percentage of the interviews used to build the estimates for the most recently published mid-year will have been collected in the most recent calendar year, so the final estimates will differ only slightly from the provisional estimates.

For more information about how England and Wales short-term international migration estimates are calculated, please refer to the Short-term international migration methodology - national estimates (218.1 Kb Pdf)  and the Short-term international migration - frequently asked questions (95.3 Kb Pdf) .

Short-term international immigration estimates for local authorities in England and Wales are derived by distributing national England and Wales estimates to the local authorities on the basis of administrative information about short-term migrants from a number of different sources. Local authority estimates use only the UN definition because these administrative sources are only available for workers and students, and are not sufficiently robust to provide information on those staying for less than three months. Estimates of short-term international emigration from local authorities are not available because there are no suitable data available to distribute estimates of short-term emigration from local authorities.

For more information about how local authority estimates are calculated, please refer to the  Short-term international migration methodology - local authority estimates (167.1 Kb Pdf) . Further migration data for local authorities are also available in the Local Area Migration Indicators Suite.

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 nationality may hold.

More generally a British citizen as described in IPS statistics includes those with UK nationality usually through a connection with the UK: birth, adoption, descent, registration, or naturalisation. British nationals 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'.

Country of Usual Residence

Based on the UN definition, the country in which a person has a place to live, where he or she normally spends the daily period of rest. Temporary travel abroad for purposes of recreation, holiday, visits to friends and relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimages does not change a person’s country of usual residence.

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 28 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, 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. Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 - data with a reference period after that date will include Croatia within the EU grouping. In this report, only Home Office visa data will be impacted by this change.

European Union (EU) Accession Countries

The Accession countries are those that joined the EU in 2004 or later. Ten joined in 2004 (the EU8, plus Cyprus and Malta), two joined in 2007 (the EU2) and Croatia joined in 2013.

EU2

The EU2 (formerly known as the A2) are the two countries that joined the EU on 1 January 2007: Bulgaria and Romania. Between 2007 and 2013, EU2 nationals had certain restrictions placed on them; in the first 12 months of stay, working Bulgarian and Romanian nationals were generally required to hold an accession worker card or apply for one of two lower-skilled quota schemes. Other Bulgarian and Romanian nationals could apply for a registration certificate, giving proof of a right to live in the UK. These restrictions were lifted on 1 January 2014.

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 these restrictions were lifted from 1 May 2011.

EU15

The EU15 consists of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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.

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, NINo and entry clearance visa data are based on nationality according to passport held.

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.

Non-Visa Nationals

Non-visa nationals are nationals who do not require a visa to enter the UK. European Economic Area (EEA) nationals do not normally require a visa to enter the UK (although a small number of EEA nationals do apply and are issued visas). Additionally, for those non-EEA nationals classified as ‘non-visa nationals’ (e.g. citizens of the USA, Brazil and Japan) a visa is not normally required for visits of less than 6 months. There are two ways in which non-visa nationals can enter the UK for work and study purposes without a visa. Non-visa nationals are allowed to work in the UK without a visa, but only for sporting or creative work of less than 3 months duration, this falling outside the scope of the UN definition of a short term migrant. However, for study there are many more admitted into the UK under the student visitor scheme than visas issued as non-visa nationals are allowed to study under the scheme for up to 6 months without a requirement for a visa.

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) – Study

The Points-Based System (PBS) in part rationalised the immigration control processes for people coming into the UK for study. The PBS has five “tiers”, one of which (Tier 4) provides a route for students to study with an approved education provider. Tier 4 was implemented in March 2009. Data shown for Study includes visas issued under Tiers 4 and pre-PBS equivalents.

Points Based System (PBS) – Work

From 2008, the Points-Based System (PBS) in part rationalised the immigration control processes for non-EEA nationals coming into the UK for work. Four of the five Tiers (Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 5) relate to permission to work:

  • Tier 1 provides a route for high value individuals;

  • Tier 2 provides a route for skilled workers with a job offer;

  • Tier 3 relates to unskilled workers (never implemented); and

  • Tier 5 is for temporary workers and youth mobility schemes.

The figures shown for work include visas issued under Tiers 1, 2, 5 and pre-PBS equivalents, as well as data for work categories which were not incorporated into the PBS, in particular overseas domestic workers (17,000 visas issued in 2013) and the UK Ancestry route (4,000 visas issued in 2013).

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 'statistically significant', it means that statistical tests have been carried out to reject the possibility that the change has occurred by chance. Therefore statistically significant changes are very likely to reflect real changes in migration patterns.

Student Visitor

The student visitor provisions allow for individuals to come to the UK to undertake short courses/periods of no more than six months at a specified type of educational institution.  Unlike Tier 4 this study can be at any level and does not have to lead to a qualification. In addition to the six month route there is a concession for those studying English language courses longer than six months in duration, which allows individuals to study on English language courses up to 11 months in duration. The intention of these provisions is to enable an individual to study up to the level required to qualify for Tier 4 of the points-based system.

Background notes

  1. The Short-Term International Migration Annual Report (STIMAR) is produced in partnership with the Home Office.

  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. A list of those with pre-release access to the STIMAR and associated migration products is available.

  4. 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
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.