Long-term international migration, provisional: year ending June 2022

Experimental and provisional estimates of UK international migration, year ending June 2020 to year ending June 2022, covers the period since COVID-19 travel restrictions eased.

This is the latest release. View previous releases

Contact:
Email Dominic Webber

Release date:
24 November 2022

Next release:
To be announced

1. Main points

  • These official estimates of international migration use innovative methods and the best available sources to produce statistics for the year ending (YE) June 2020 to YE June 2022.

  • They are experimental and provisional, and subject to revision as we continue to develop methods, and as the underlying data are improved and finalised.

  • The period leading up to June 2022 was unique, with simultaneous factors coinciding to affect long-term immigration; this included the continued recovery in travel following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a number of migration events including a new immigration system following transition from the EU, and the ongoing support for Ukrainian nationals and others requiring protection.

  • These have all contributed towards relatively high levels of total long-term immigration at an estimated 1.1 million in the year to June 2022.

  • The estimated 435,000 increase in total immigration compared with a year earlier was driven by non-EU nationals (up 379,000 to 704,000 in the YE June 2022); increasing arrivals of international students and people travelling from Ukraine under the visa support scheme were all contributing factors.

  • Overall, net migration continued to add to the population in the YE June 2022, with an estimated 504,000 more people arriving long-term to the UK than departing; net migration of non-EU nationals was estimated at 509,000 in the YE June 2022, compared with negative 51,000 and 45,000 for EU and British nationals respectively.

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These estimates are experimental and provisional. They are based on administrative and survey data, supported by statistical modelling where these data are incomplete. There is a degree of uncertainty around them that we are unable to quantify at this time.

The estimates within this bulletin are experimental and provisional. We work closely with a range of experts, including from the Government Statistical Service (GSS), to quality assure our latest methods and estimates. These estimates can be used to provide an indication of change in international migration following the COVID-19 pandemic and transition from the EU, as well as the contribution of net migration to changes in the UK population.

The latest estimates are produced using different methods to previous Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates meaning comparisons should not be made to previously published international migration estimates, including those published by the ONS. See Revisions to migration estimates section for more detail.

This bulletin forms part of a suite of international migration releases that are now published on the Government Statistical Service interactive dashboard.

  • Immigration statistics quarterly release, year ending September 2022 (Home Office) - Quarterly and annual statistics relating to those: coming to the UK, extending their stay, gaining citizenship, applying for asylum and being detained or removed, as well as immigration for work, study and family reasons, including new visa routes where these are operational.

  • Methods to produce provisional long-term international migration estimates, which explains the current and previous methods used to produce our experimental and provisional estimates.

  • A research update to provide details of both research into improving the methods underpinning the international migration estimates and progress on longer-term aims such as developing estimates on alternative definitions of international migration; including a section providing further information and guidance for users on the highly topical area of irregular migration statistics.

  • A blog explaining the uniqueness of 2022, the impact of these world events on our long-term migration estimates and a look ahead to what the future holds.

Statistician's comment

"A series of world events have impacted international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022. Taken together these were unprecedented. These include the end of lockdown restrictions in the UK, the first full period following transition from the EU, the war in Ukraine, the resettlement of Afghans and the new visa route for Hong Kong British nationals (Overseas), which have all contributed to the record levels of long-term immigration we have seen."

"Migration from non-EU countries, specifically students, is driving this rise. With the lifting of travel restrictions in 2021, more students arrived in the UK after studying remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. However, there has also been a large increase in the number of people migrating for a range of other reasons. This includes people arriving for humanitarian protections, such as those coming from Ukraine, as well as for family reasons."

"These many factors independent of each other contributing to migration at this time mean it is too early to say whether this picture will be sustained."

Jay Lindop, Director of the Centre for International Migration, Office for National Statistics.

Follow ONS Director of the Centre for International Migration @JayLindop_ONS

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2. Immigration to the UK

The period leading up to June 2022 was unique, with a number of simultaneous events that were likely to affect long-term immigration. These estimates cover the initial period where coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions were lifted, with travel patterns starting to recover, as well as the introduction of a new immigration system following transition from the EU.

Home Office statistics on passenger arrivals into the UK show that air travel began to recover in summer 2021, and despite falling again in winter recovered further when remaining restrictions were removed. So it is possible that with the lifting of travel restrictions in 2021, we are seeing more students arriving in the UK after studying remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, there was an increase in the number of people arriving in the UK following the opening of new visa routes; including visa support for Ukrainian nationals and the Afghan Resettlement Programme.

The inclusion of different subpopulations into overall measures of migration will depend partly on whether they satisfy the definition of long-term migration (arriving in, or departing from, the UK for more than 12 months). Additionally, we need sufficient confidence in the methods and underlying data, so that groups can be included without compromising the overall quality of the long-term migration estimates. Taking this into account, these estimates of long-term international migration do not include some or all the following population groups. For more information on these populations, see Section 4: Migration Events.

  • Recent irregular migration arriving via clandestine means, including the estimated 35,000 people arriving by small boats in year ending June 2022, the majority of which apply for asylum.

  • A proportion of those with British national (overseas) (BN(O)) visas arriving from Hong Kong are likely to be included in the British national immigration estimates derived from the International Passenger Survey. We are working with the Home Office to resolve data issues so a more complete estimate of this subpopulation can be included in our next release of estimates published in May 2023. Published Home Office statistics indicate that around 76,000 visas were issued for the BN(O) route in the year ending June 2022, although not all people with a visa will travel to the UK.

In the year ending (YE) June 2022, long-term immigration into the UK was estimated at around 1.1 million. This is an estimated increase of 435,000 compared with the YE June 2021 (628,000).

This was primarily driven by the immigration of non-EU nationals, accounting for an estimated 66% of total immigration (704,000), an increase of 379,000 compared with the YE June 2021.

The immigration of EU nationals remained broadly stable in the last year, accounting for 21% of total immigration (224,000).

British nationals made up the remaining 13% of immigration (135,000), an increase from 69,000 in the YE June 2021. This will include both British nationals arriving from Hong Kong and some BN(O) status holders arriving from Hong Kong (Figure 1). It is too early to tell whether these patterns will continue.

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3. Reason for immigration

Estimates from Home Office administrative data tell us about the type of visas granted to non-EU nationals identified as long-term immigrants to the UK. In the year ending (YE) June 2022, those arriving on study visas accounted for the largest proportion (39%) of long-term immigration of non-EU nationals at 277,000, an increase from 143,000 in the YE June 2021.

It is possible that with the lifting of travel restrictions in 2021, we are seeing more students arriving in the UK for their studies after studying remotely for their courses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is too early to say whether this trend will continue.

The increase in those arriving to study may also be influenced by the new Graduate Visa route whereby students can apply to work in the UK for up to three years after completing their studies, which could be attracting international students to the UK. However, research has shown that students are typically a very mobile population, with previous analysis outlining that 61% of non-EU students left at the end of their study visa in the academic year ending 2019. Additionally, other students may obtain new visas or receive visa extensions at the end of their study visas and leave in subsequent years. Further information can be found in our previous long-term international migration publication Long-term international migration, provisional: year ending June 2021.

Those arriving on "other" visas accounted for the second-largest proportion of non-EU immigration (39%) at an estimated 276,000 in the YE June 2022, an increase from 91,000 in the YE June 2021.

This grouping includes people who immigrated into the UK under visas classified as family, protection, settlement, visit, other and those that did not fit into any of our designated classifications. Within these different visa classifications will be those arriving for humanitarian protection, such as those coming from Ukraine. Home Office estimates suggest that around 89,000 Ukraine Scheme visa-holders arrived in the UK up to the YE June 2022.

Work visas made up the remaining proportion contributing to non-EU immigration, accounting for 21% in the YE June 2022, with an estimated 151,000 arriving for work compared with 92,000 in the YE June 2021.

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) asks people their reason for migration, allowing breakdowns for our Registration and Population Interaction Database (RAPID)-based EU estimates and British nationals where visa records are not available. Research by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office shows that when administrative and survey data records are linked by individuals, the reported perceived reason for migration does not always corroborate the reason they have been granted permission to enter (PDF, 370KB). Users should therefore exercise caution when comparing breakdowns between non-EU, and EU and British nationals.

In the YE June 2022, an estimated 45% of EU and British nationals immigrated into the UK for "other" reasons, which were the most common reasons stated. This was followed by "work", which made up an estimated 37% of immigration of EU and British nationals. Finally, 18% of EU and British nationals immigrated into the UK for "study" in the YE June 2022.

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4. Migration events

This section outlines the impact of recent migration events including those immigrating from Ukraine and Afghanistan, and British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)) arriving from Hong Kong.

Ukrainians (included in Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates)

Those who arrived in the UK from Ukraine have been included within our total long-term immigration estimates. In the absence of reliable evidence to suggest otherwise, we assume that those arriving on Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme and Ukraine Family Scheme visas in the year ending (YE) June 2022 will stay for longer than 12 months and therefore be included in our estimate of immigration. We have applied a similar assumption to those arriving on the Afghanistan Resettlement Programme. This means that these estimates will be an upper bound for these populations and may be revised down once we have more information on their actual length of stay.

Published Home Office statistics suggest around 89,000 Ukraine Scheme visa-holders arrived in the UK up to June 2022 (around 170,000 visas were granted to Ukrainian nationals across all visa routes in the same period).

Afghan Resettlement Programme (included in ONS estimates)

Operation PITTING was the evacuation of people from Afghanistan in August 2021. According to published Home Office operational data, around 21,000 arrivals are associated with this operation, and are included in our total immigration estimates. This will include some British nationals. Similar to those arriving on the Ukrainian Visa Schemes, in the absence of reliable evidence to suggest otherwise, this subpopulation are included under the assumption that they are arriving in the UK for 12 months or more. These estimates are likely to be revised as more information on this group becomes available.

British nationals overseas BN(O) (partially included in ONS estimates)

On 31 January 2021, the UK launched a bespoke immigration route for British nationals overseas (BN(O)) status holders and their families from Hong Kong.

Published Home Office statistics show that around 76,000 visas were issued for the BN(O) route in the YE June 2022, although this will be the upper bound for arrivals as not all of those with a visa will arrive in the UK or stay long-term. We are working with the Home Office to resolve data issues to ensure we have complete visa data for BN(O) status holders to be able to accurately determine how many arrive and stay long-term for future inclusion in our non-EU estimates.

We are working to identify BN(O) status holders from Hong Kong in our International Passenger Survey (IPS) data, which is challenging as some may present themselves as British citizens to IPS interviewers. We are investigating using a combination of country of birth and country of last residence to provide a more robust estimate of those who might be covered by the BN(O) visa route. Current analysis suggests that 28,000 British nationals with a country of birth of Hong Kong immigrated to the UK in the year ending June 2022.

People arriving via clandestine irregular migration routes (not included in ONS estimates)

These estimates do not include people who arrived via clandestine irregular migration routes, such as the estimated 35,000 people arriving by small boats in the YE June 2022. The majority of these people will go on to apply for asylum.

Asylum seekers (partially included in ONS estimates)

People who apply for asylum after previously holding a long-term visa are likely to be included within these estimates. Further research will look to understand how we can include all asylum seekers who meet the definition of long-term migration. This will include those asylum seekers who arrive via clandestine irregular means. For balance, we will also need to account for those who are removed or returned.

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5. Emigration out of the UK

The provisional estimate of the number of people emigrating out of the UK long-term in the year ending (YE) June 2022 was approximately 560,000. Non-EU nationals accounted for 195,000 of this long-term total, EU nationals accounted for 275,000 and British nationals 90,000.

While levels of immigration have increased over the recent year, emigration has been steadier. It is too early to say whether these trends will continue, as future levels of emigration may increase over the coming years following the relatively high inflow of non-EU students. Our analysis on Visa journeys and student outcomes highlights that 61% of non-EU students left at the end of their study visa in the academic year ending 2019. The majority of the remaining 39% of students obtained additional visas or received visa extensions and are likely to have left in subsequent years.

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6. Population change

Net migration for the UK in the year ending June 2022

Net international migration, which is the difference calculated between immigration and emigration within the same period, added to the UK population in the year ending (YE) June 2022. This was estimated to be at 504,000, an increase of 331,000 compared with the YE June 2021 (173,000).

This was driven by net migration of non-EU nationals, at 509,000 in the YE June 2022, an increase of 352,000 compared with YE June 2021. This was mainly driven by increases in students and migration events as outlined in the Immigration to the UK section.

Net migration of EU nationals was negative 51,000, a decrease of 63,000 compared with YE June 2021.

Net migration estimates of British nationals in YE June 2022 was 45,000, an increase compared with YE June 2021. This was in part likely to be because of the inclusion of some British nationals (overseas) arriving from Hong Kong and potentially returning British nationals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (Figure 4).

Non-UK born population levels in mid-2022

Net migration to June 2022 has increased the size of the non-UK born population since March 2021. Estimates published earlier this month from Census 2021 showed the non-UK born population in England and Wales was 10,018,000. It is now more likely to be 10,388,000, made up of 3,545,000 for EU born and 6,854,000 for non-EU born once factoring in deaths.

These estimates are only indicative of non-UK born population change since Census Day and are experimental and provisional so there is a degree of uncertainty around them. The method rolls forward Census 2021 with net migration and deaths, and estimates may change as we make improvements.

Historically the non-UK born population was estimated using the Annual Population Survey (APS) but on 27 October 2022, we announced this was being discontinued because of data quality issues. In the future we will produce improved provisional measures of the non-UK population depending on user needs and working closely with colleagues in National Records Scotland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, and other government departments, including HM Revenue and Customs, and the Home Office. We will provide an update on this in early 2023.

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7. Consistency across data sources

We are transforming population and migration statistics, developing methods that make more use of administrative data. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each data source is an important part of this transformed system. As part of the quality assurance of our new methods, this section presents analysis of our new estimates compared with other sources that provide indicators on migration.

With Home Office Border Systems Data providing estimates of migration based mainly on actual travel events, it is currently considered the best source for measuring non-EU migration.

Non-EU immigration in the year ending March 2021 based on Census 2021 data is very close to the estimate based on Home Office Border Systems Data (264,000 compared with 268,000), as shown in Figure 5. Registration and Population Interaction Database (RAPID) estimates for the years ending March 2021 and 2022 are slightly lower, although this will be explained in part by the fact that RAPID estimates do not include non-working students.

The visa issued data published by the Home Office are consistently higher than estimates of long-term immigration of non-EU nationals. However, these can be considered an upper bound since not all who are granted a visa will have come to the UK or stayed long-term.

Given that a proportion of EU migrants with settled status can continue to travel to the UK without a visa, we still consider RAPID data to provide the best estimates for measuring EU immigration. Further research will be directed towards accounting for those on the EU Settlement Scheme to explore whether Home Office visa data can be used to estimate the migration of this group in the future. An estimated 195,000 EU nationals immigrated to the UK in the year ending March 2021. This is broadly comparable with the estimated 189,000 arrivals of EU nationals based on Census 2021 data.

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8. Revisions to migration statistics

The figures published in this bulletin are provisional and will improve over time as more complete data are available and as methods continue to be developed. This will entail regular revisions to headline measures as outlined in our Population and International Migration Revisions policy.

We are currently publishing international migration statistics twice per year and can expect revisions to be made to the year ending (YE) June 2022 estimates next year.

The revisions to estimates of migration for YE June 2020 and YE June 2021 that were published in May 2022 are shown in Table 1. We have worked closely with a range of experts, including from the Government Statistical Service (GSS), to quality assure our latest methods and estimates. Following this work, the revisions are driven by four main factors.

First, we have introduced a new methodology to estimate non-EU emigration that makes use of newly available detailed Home Office Borders System Data on individuals' travel movements. This produces higher estimates of non-EU emigration compared with the previous estimates, which were based on aggregate information. However, we have greater confidence in this approach as it relies more extensively on observed travel patterns, and is more consistent with the method used to measure immigration.

Second, the new Home Office Borders System Data have also improved our estimates of non-EU immigration, as detailed record-level data are now available for the whole data time series. We have also taken the opportunity to make minor improvements to the methodology behind this approach. This results in lower estimates of non-EU immigration, and consequently lower estimates of non-EU net migration when combined with the revised emigration estimates.

We now have Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Registration and Population Interaction Database (RAPID) data up to the tax year ending 2022. Estimates for the YE June 2020 and the YE June 2021 are now based on observed long-term interactions with the data, where previously we had to make assumptions about the proportion of arrivals that would stay long term. This has informed improved estimates of EU immigration and emigration. We have also introduced an improved method for adjusting for students and included a new adjustment to account for those aged under 16 years that has also contributed to the revisions. More detail on these can be found in our Methods to produce provisional long-term international migration estimates.

Finally, there are revisions in estimates of British migration as the underlying International Passenger Survey (IPS) data moves from provisional to final state.

We currently publish international migration estimates twice per year - at the end of November and end of May. We anticipate revisions to YE June 2022 estimates to be published in May 2023. These will partly reflect that we expect to have Home Office Border Systems Data up to and including December 2022, meaning we will have 12 months of travel information for those who arrived or departed between July and December 2021.

Using that information, we will revise those records where we previously assumed their long-term migration status based on visa length. Overall, we expect the extent of these types of revisions to be smaller than before because of the introduction of the early leavers and departures adjustment, which uses historical data to estimate the proportion of recent arrivals or departures that are not long-term. We are also exploring the use of Machine Learning to explore whether these adjustments can be improved.

As explained earlier, in the absence of reliable evidence otherwise, and reflecting the unique nature of these groups, all recent arrivals from Ukraine and Afghanistan are assumed to stay long-term. This again raises the prospect of revisions to this group as more complete travel information becomes available.

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9. Understanding migration statistics

These estimates are produced using methods that are based predominantly on administrative data. Building on methods introduced with estimates published in May 2022, we have implemented a number of improvements. Current and previous methods are described in our updated Methods to produce provisional long-term international migration estimates methodology, published 24 November 2022.

Estimates published today (24 November 2022) are experimental and the underlying methods are still in development. In addition, the estimates for the most recent time period in our data series (year ending (YE) June 2022) will be subject to a range of factors, which make any estimates of net migration more uncertain at present. As outlined in our revisions policy, these estimates are subject to change both because of methods refinement, as well the availability of more data.

Estimates published today cover the period YE June 2020 to the YE June 2022. Information from Census 2021, alongside available administrative data, will provide the clearest possible picture of international migration flows over the last decade. Following the rebasing of the mid-year population estimates that are due for release in spring 2023, we aim to use all the available information to publish a revised data back series of long-term international migration flows over the course of the last decade.

Our release coincides with the publication of the latest immigration system statistics from the Home Office, for the period to the end of September 2022. Numbers of visas granted may indicate trends in the arrivals of non-EU long-term migrants but cannot indicate the net effect, once further stays and emigration are taken into account. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office continue to work closely together to produce a consistent insight into UK international migration.

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10. UK international migration data

Long-term international immigration, emigration and net migration flows, provisional
Dataset | Released 24 November 2022
Experimental and provisional estimates for UK immigration, emigration and net migration, year ending June 2020 to year ending June 2022.

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11. Glossary

Administrative data

Collections of data maintained for administrative reasons, for example, registrations, transactions, or record keeping. They are used for operational purposes and their statistical use is secondary. These sources are typically managed by other government bodies.

Long-term international migration

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Centre for International Migration uses the UN-recommended definition of a long-term international migrant: "A person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year (12 months), so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence."

EU

EU is the sum of EU14, EU8 and EU2, plus Malta, Cyprus and Croatia (from 1 July 2013).

Non-EU

Non-EU is the sum of the rest of the world including the rest of Europe. British nationals are excluded from these numbers.

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12. Measuring the data

We announced in the August 2020 Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR) that we would continue to develop methods using administrative data, given the known limitations of the International Passenger Survey (IPS). Further details on our progress, including our plans to use statistical modelling, were published in November 2021 in our International migration statistical design: progress report.

We continue to use the UN definition of a long-term migrant: a person who moves to a country other than that of their usual residence for at least a year.

A brief summary of our methods is given in this bulletin, with more details set out in the methodology.

Non-EU nationals

Non-EU migration refers to estimates of migration for people who do not hold British or EU nationality. We use Home Office Border System Data that combines visa and travel information to link an individual's travel movements into and out of the country. More information is provided within the Home Office statistics on exit checks: user guide.

To estimate non-EU immigration we have developed a method that uses an individual's first arrival and last departure dates to approximate their length of stay in the UK within the period for which they have a valid visa. Individuals whose stay lasts 12 months or more are classified as a long-term immigrant. For emigration we identify previous long-term immigrants with a last departure from the UK during the reference period and record them as a long-term emigrant if they do not return to the UK within 12 months, or if they only return for a short-term stay. More detailed information can be found on our methodology page and in our Methods to produce provisional long-term international migration estimates article.

EU nationals

The latest methodology to estimate the migration of EU nationals is based on previous research to measure international migration using RAPID. The Registration and Population Interaction Database (RAPID) currently provides the best insight into the migration of EU nationals.

RAPID is created by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide a single coherent view of citizens' interactions across the breadth of systems in the DWP, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and local authorities via Housing Benefit. RAPID covers everyone with a National Insurance number (NINo) and for each person, the number of weeks of "activity" within these systems is summarised in each tax year. Records are then categorised as either long-term or short-term by looking for patterns of interactions with the tax and benefits system.

To provide the best estimates for EU immigration, we continue to use a methodology based on the Registration and Population Interaction Database (RAPID). We apply two adjustments to the estimates to account for those populations who have fewer or no interactions with the earnings and benefits systems. These adjustments are for student migration and those under the age of 16 years. Both of which the RAPID data alone, would not fully capture. A more detailed explanation of the adjustments applied to the RAPID data can be found in our Methods to produce provisional long-term international migration estimates article.

British nationals

Our research into this subset of the population is ongoing. Identifying British migrants in administrative data is complex. Consequently, we continue to base our estimates on data from the IPS, using State Space Modelling (SSM) data time series analysis to estimate their migration during the period when the IPS was suspended (March to December 2020). The IPS was reinstated in January 2021 and is currently the best insight into the migration activity of British nationals.

Further details on our current and previous methods are available in the methodology that we have also published today.

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13. Strengths and limitations

Because of the nature of the current methods, these estimates provide headline estimates only and cannot provide further breakdowns or insights.

Operational processes were impacted during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which affected the collection of some administrative data. The National Insurance number (NINo) registration service was partially suspended in March 2020 for certain customers, with a phased return to normal operations completed by April 2021. Some of the trends seen in EU migration from the Registration and Population Interaction Database (RAPID) may have been affected by these restrictions, where some migrants may have arrived in the UK but were unable to register for their NINo. Therefore, they may not have been included in the estimates from RAPID. For more information on the suspension of the NINo application process, see National Insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals entering the UK.

Estimates of EU nationals have temporarily used data in RAPID that has been derived from the DWP Customer Information System (CIS) because of an issue with data from the HMRC Migrant Workers Scan (MWS). While the CIS provides an alternative measure of migrant registrations, the information is more limited than the data in the MWS but is suitable for use in these experimental statistics.

As explained in the Migration events in the year to June 2022, there are different subpopulations that are included and excluded from headline estimates of international migration.

Further information on strengths and limitations of the data sources are included in the methodology report.

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15. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 24 November 2022, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Long-term international migration, provisional: year ending June 2022

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Dominic Webber
pop.info@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 1329 444661