1. Main points

  • Net long-term international migration = +336,000 (up 82,000 from YE June 2014) in the year ending (YE) June 2015.
  • Immigration = 636,000 (up 62,000 from YE June 2014).
  • Emigration = 300,000 (down 20,000 from YE June 2014).
  • The net migration figure was a statistically significant increase from 254,000 in YE June 2014 and remains the highest net migration on record. This is a result of a statistically significant increase in immigration (from 574,000 in YE June 2014) and a decrease in emigration (from 320,000 in YE June 2014 (not statistically significant)).
  • Net migration of EU citizens showed a statistically significant increase to 180,000 (up 42,000 from YE June 2014). Non-EU net migration also had a statistically significant increase, to 201,000 (up 36,000).
  • The increase in long-term international immigration included a statistically significant increase for EU citizens to 265,000 (up 42,000), and an increase for non-EU citizens to 286,000 (up 17,000) (not statistically significant).
  • 294,000 people immigrated for work in YE June 2015, a statistically significant increase of 53,000 from 241,000 in YE June 2014 continuing the upward trend since March 2013. Of these, 64% (187,000) had a definite job to go to.
  • 162,000 of those coming for work related reasons were from the EU. Of those coming with a definite job, 101,000 were EU citizens, a statistically significant increase of 22,000 on YE June 2014. A further 54,000 of those coming for a definite job were non-EU citizens, also a statistically significant increase (of 11,000) compared to YE June 2014 estimates.
  • 50,000 Romanian and Bulgarian (EU2) citizens immigrated to the UK in YE June 2015, a statistically significant increase of 19,000 from YE June 2014. Of the 50,000 EU2 citizens who came to the UK, 42,000 (84%) of them came for work related reasons.
  • Latest employment statistics show estimated employment of EU nationals (excluding British) living in the UK was 2.0 million in July to September 2015, 324,000 higher than the same quarter last year. Non-EU nationals in employment remained broadly similar at 1.2 million, and the total number of British nationals in employment increased by 122,000 to 28.1 million. Therefore, three-quarters of the growth in employment over the last year was accounted for by foreign nationals. (These growth figures represent the NET change in the number of people in employment, not the proportion of new jobs that have been filled by non-UK workers.)
  • In YE Sep 2015, total work-related visas granted (non-EU nationals, main applicants) rose by 6% to 122,909 including a 4,105 (8%) increase to 54,174 for skilled work (Tier 2) visas.
  • There were 862,000 National Insurance number (NINo) registrations to adult overseas nationals in YE September 2015, an increase of 194,000 (29%) on the previous year.
  • Long-term immigration for study increased from 175,000 to 192,000 in YE June 2015 (not statistically significant). Over the same period, visa applications to study at a UK university (non-EU, main applicants) increased (+0.2%) to 167,425.
  • There were 29,024 asylum applications (main applicants) in YE September 2015, an increase of 19% compared with the previous 12 months (24,324). The largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Eritrea (3,726), followed by Sudan (2,842), Iran (2,407) and Syria (2,402). Grant rates vary between nationalities; for example, at initial decision, the grant rate for nationals of Sudan was 84%, compared with 21% for Pakistani nationals.
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2. About the MSQR

If you are new to migration statistics, you might find it helpful to read our “International migration statistics first time user guide” (375.6 Kb Pdf).

The Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR) is a summary of the latest quarterly release of official international migration statistics. This edition covers those released on 26 November 2015 and includes links to other migration products released on that date. The latest ONS estimates refer to the year ending June 2015, though other estimates’ periods may differ as stated. A summary version of this report is available on our website. The MSQR series brings together statistics on migration published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

ONS migration statistics use 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.” Figures relating to visas are produced by the Home Office and include long-term and short-term migrants and their dependants; the Department for Work and Pensions National Insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals also include long-term and short-term migrants. The estimates in the MSQR do not identify illegal migrants.

Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) estimates are mainly based on data from the International Passenger Survey (IPS), with adjustments made for asylum seekers, non-asylum enforced removals, visitor and migrant switchers and flows to and from Northern Ireland. This report uses LTIM estimates where available. However, for some categorisations it is not possible to estimate the full LTIM statistic. In such cases IPS statistics are presented. In these cases the IPS totals will not match LTIM totals, but will give a good measure of magnitude and direction of change.

There is considerable interest in migration statistics both nationally and internationally, and they are a fundamental component of our mid-year population estimates. These are used for planning and service delivery, resource allocation and managing the economy. Additionally, migration statistics are used to monitor progress against a government-stated ambition of delivering annual net migration in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands.1

There is further information on how our migration statistics are used, along with information on their fitness for purpose including strengths and limitations, in the “quality and methodology information for long-term international migration (LTIM) releases” (217.6 Kb Pdf) (LINK4) and the “accuracy of migration estimates” section.

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, please send an email to population.statistics@ons.gov.uk with the subject title “Subscribe to ONS Population Statistics Newsletter”.

You can also follow our statistician @PaulVickers_ONS for the latest Population Statistics news and updates, and join in the conversation.

New for this release:

As part of our ongoing work to improve our bulletins, we have now included in the provisional quarterly LTIM tables:

  • additional lines of data for inflow and outflow highlighting the changes, in thousands, from the previous year
  • the percentage changes
  • whether the differences are significant

Some additional minor changes have been made to the line style and colour in some charts to enhance their appearance in greyscale.

To allow our users access to timely data, provisional estimates are published. Due to the nature of provisional estimates, as more timely data becomes available the estimates are updated. Following the availability of the latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) data on where recent immigrants have settled, the IPS inflow estimates for YE March 2015 have been recalibrated and LTIM and IPS estimates for that year have subsequently been updated. As a result, comparisons between these figures and any from our previous release may show differences.

Throughout the report, all changes referred to are from the year ending June 2014 to the year ending June 2015, unless otherwise stated.

Annual final data tables

For this release we have published our annual final LTIM, IPS and methodology tables for 2014. The IPS tables now include estimates by citizenship, country of birth and country of last or next residence which use the new country groupings requested in a consultation in 2014. There is a short section at the end of this MSQR that looks at some of these LTIM data in brief.

Notes for About the MSQR

  1. Conservative Manifesto 2015
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3. Net migration to the UK

Net migration is the difference between immigration and emigration.

  • The net migration estimate for the year ending (YE) June 2015 is 336,000 and has a 95% confidence interval of +/-39,000, a statistically significant increase from the estimate of 254,000 (+/-38,000) in YE June 2014. This remains the highest estimate of net migration on record.

(From here on, any reference to change, such as increase or decrease, refers to YE June 2015 compared with YE June 2014, unless otherwise stated.)

Figure 1 shows rolling annual estimates from YE June 2005 onwards, illustrating that the latest provisional net migration estimate is higher than the emigration estimate, a result of immigration being more than twice as high as emigration.

Figure 2 provides annual totals from 1970 to 2014 to show the longer-term context.

An interactive version of Figure 2 up to 2014 with additional commentary is available on the Neighbourhood Statistics website.

Table 1 shows the headline figures for YE June 2014 and YE June 2015 with their corresponding confidence intervals. Statistically significant changes are denoted with an asterisk.

The most recent increase in net migration has been driven by higher levels of immigration coupled with a small decrease in emigration (not statistically significant).

In December 2013, in collaboration with the Home Office, ONS published a report on the history of immigration to the UK based on the 2011 Census, which provides further analysis of the drivers behind historical migration to the UK.

Table 2 illustrates EU and non-EU citizens’ net migration for YE June 2014 and YE June 2015 with their corresponding confidence intervals. Statistically significant changes are denoted with an asterisk.

Figure 3 shows the trend in net migration for EU, non-EU and British citizens. This reflects 6 quarters of data since transitional controls on the employment of EU2 migrants ended on 1 January 2014.

IPS estimates indicate that the increase in EU net migration has been driven by a statistically significant increase in immigration of EU2 citizens (see glossary for EU/country definitions). This increase has resulted in the net migration of EU2 increasing from 27,000 to 46,0001. Net migration of EU15 citizens also increased, by 20,000 (LTIM estimate), but this is not a statistically significant increase.

There was also a statistically significant increase in non-EU net migration, from 165,000 to 201,000 (LTIM estimate), a result of an increase in immigration (not statistically significant) and a statistically significant decrease in emigration. IPS estimates show that there was a statistically significant increase in net migration of North America citizens (from 7,000 to 20,000).

Notes for net migration to the UK

  1. Throughout the report, users are encouraged to review our published tables and note the confidence intervals around our estimates. These confidence intervals give an indication of the accuracy of the estimates and the extent to which comparisons can be drawn between them.
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4. Immigration to the UK

  • The latest immigration estimate for the year ending (YE) June 2015 is 636,000, with a confidence interval of +/-34,000, a statistically significant increase from 574,000 (+/-31,000) in YE June 2014

(From here on, any reference to change, such as increase or decrease, refers to this same time period comparison, unless otherwise stated.)

In YE June 2015, immigration of EU citizens saw a statistically significant increase from 223,0001 to 265,000 (Figure 4). Non-EU immigration showed an increase (not statistically significant) from 269,000 in YE June 2014 to 286,000 in YE June 2015.

EU citizens

Immigration of EU citizens was estimated to be 265,000 in YE June 2015, a statistically significant increase from 223,000 (Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) data - shown in Figure 4). Figure 5 uses IPS data (not LTIM) to show how EU immigration is split between the 3 main EU groups.

The IPS data mirror the LTIM data and show a statistically significant increase in immigration of EU citizens from 205,000 to 242,000. For the latest year around half the increase is due to a statistically significant increase in EU2 immigration, from 31,000 to 50,000. EU2 citizens now account for 21% of total EU immigration.

Bulgaria and Romania (EU2) joined the EU on 1 January 2007. Migrants coming to the UK from these countries were initially subject to transitional employment restrictions, which placed limits on the kind of employment they could undertake. These restrictions ended on 1 January 2014, and this release shows 1 full year of final IPS data and 2 rolling years of provisional IPS data since the removal of the restrictions. The estimate of EU2 citizens immigrating for work-related reasons has shown a statistically significant increase from 24,000 in YE June 2014 to 42,000 in YE June 2015.

Data for the EU8 and EU15 showed no statistically significant changes in YE June 2015. EU15 immigration showed an increase (from 113,000 to 133,000) which contributed to the overall increase in EU immigration. EU8 immigration remained at 73,000 (the same as the year before).

Since YE September 2012, there has been similar growth in EU15 citizens and EU2 citizens arriving as long-term migrants in the UK, whereas the rise in EU8 citizens has been much smaller. These changes could reflect stronger growth in the UK labour market over this period and the potential relative strength of the Eastern European economies at present compared to some countries in southern Europe.

Non-EU citizens

Immigration of non-EU citizens increased from 269,000 to 286,000 (not statistically significant) (LTIM figures). Non-EU citizens continue to account for a slightly larger share of immigration, compared to EU citizens. This gap is narrowing with recent larger increases seen for EU immigration and an overall decrease in immigration from non-EU citizens, following a peak in 2004.

There was an increase (albeit not statistically significant) in immigration of Commonwealth (see Glossary) citizens (from 112,000 to 124,000).

Immigration from the Other Foreign citizenship group has remained stable (from 157,000 to 162,000).

Immigration estimates of non-EU citizens had shown a decline between YE September 2011 and YE June 2013. This decline was largely due to lower immigration of Asian citizens, in particular for study. Visa statistics suggest this was related to the sharp decline in long-term immigrants from South Asia coming to study in the further education sector.

IPS estimates indicate that from YE June 2014 to YE June 2015 there was a statistically significant increase for citizens of Middle East and Central Asia (from 14,000 to 23,000), North America (from 20,000 to 29,000) and a statistically significant decrease in immigration for citizens of North Africa (from 13,000 to 4,000)1.

British citizens

Long-Term International Migration estimates show that in YE June 2015, the estimated number of British citizens immigrating to the UK was 85,000. This figure is similar to the 82,000 British citizens estimated to have immigrated to the UK in YE June 2014. These numbers may include British citizens returning to the UK after living abroad for a period, or some British citizens who were born abroad and may be coming to the UK for the first time. IPS estimates show that British citizens are immigrating for:

  • work-related reasons (50,000)
  • going home to live (15,000)
  • accompanying/joining others (9,000)
  • formal study (7,000)

Entry clearance visas

Nationality information on migrants that are subject to immigration controls, coming from non-EU countries, is provided by data on entry clearance visas.

Figure 6 shows the top 10 nationalities granted visas (excluding visitor and transit visas) in YE September 2015, which together accounted for 61% of the total 535,700. The highest numbers were for Chinese (92,353; 17% of the total), Indian (86,706; 16%) and United States (35,892; 7%) nationals.

The number of visas granted in YE September 2015, excluding visitor and transit visas (535,700), was very similar to YE Sep 2014 (543,112). Increases for China (up 8,240 or +10%) and India (up 3,636 or +4%) were offset by falls for Libya (down 7,121 or -76%) and Russia (down 6,915 or-35%).

There are a range of reasons why IPS figures may be different from figures for visas granted or passenger arrivals and hence why the trends in the different series may not match, including:

  • sampling variation in the IPS
  • differences between intentions and visa length
  • timing differences between when visas are granted and when an individual actually travels, and unused visas
  • visa and admissions data includes dependents, and both short-term and long-term migrants

Although the above figures exclude visitor and transit visas, they will include some individuals who do not plan to move to the UK for a year or more, as well as dependants. There is evidence that recent increases up to 2013 in visas granted reflect higher numbers of short-term visas. The Home Office published a research note, which indicated that the increase from 2012 to 2013 in total visas granted, excluding visit and transit visas, was accounted for by higher numbers of short-term (less than 1 year) visas. Nevertheless, recent trends in visas granted have also provided a good leading indicator for trends in long-term non-EU immigration.

For more information see the Home Office Immigration Statistics July to September 2015 bulletin. In addition, ONS published an annual report on Short-Term International Migration, 21 May 2015.

Immigration to the UK by main reason

The following sections describe the main reason for migration for long-term immigrants to the UK. Approximately three-quarters of immigrants to the UK are people migrating to work or study (Figure 7).

Of those whose main reason for migration was work-related, the majority (58%) were EU citizens; whereas of those whose main reason for migration was study, the majority (71%) were non-EU citizens. Changes in flows of people migrating for these reasons are affected by the differing rights of EU and non-EU citizens to migrate to the UK and by the impact of government policy.

Home Office visa statistics show that most of the 535,700 visas granted (excluding visitors and transit visas) to non-EEA nationals in YE September 2015 were for sponsored study (213,560, excluding the short–term study category) or for work (168,447). In addition, 62,216 short-term study and 36,724 family-related visas were granted. IPS long-term immigration estimates for work and formal study among non-EU nationals broadly follow the same long-term trends as visas granted for work and study. However, IPS estimates will be lower than the visa figures because the IPS estimates exclude those individuals who intend to stay for less than 1 year.

Furthermore, the dependants of those granted a visa to work or study are included in the work and study visas figures, whereas the reason for migration for such individuals, in most cases, is likely to be recorded as accompanying or joining others by the IPS.

IPS statistics and visa statistics represent flows of people, only a proportion of whom will remain for longer periods. A recent Home Office research report “The reason for migration and labour market characteristics of UK residents born abroad” (September 2014) used data from the Labour Force Survey to provide estimates of the number of residents born abroad by the reason for original migration. One finding of this research was that the distribution of original reasons given by non UK-born residents of the UK was very different from that produced when looking at the migration flows reported in the IPS. For example, the proportion of people who came for family purposes or as a dependant took greater significance, because it is more likely for people who come for relationship reasons to stay longer or permanently. Similarly, although many foreign students are temporary, the analysis confirmed findings in other studies that a proportion of foreign students do stay on as residents, with 14% of foreign-born residents in 2012 to 2013 (the period covered by the study) reporting as having originally come to the UK as students.

Immigration for work

For long-term international migration flows the most commonly stated reason for immigration to the UK is work (Figure 7). LTIM estimates showed a statistically significant increase from 241,000 to 294,000, the highest reported estimate in the series (but users should be aware that no revisions were made to separate immigration and emigration estimates at the time the net migration estimates were revised - ONS analysis of the differences between the Census and population estimates suggest immigration figures could have been higher in the mid-2000s as a result of migration from Eastern Europe).

IPS estimates show increases for both EU and non-EU citizens immigrating for work-related reasons although neither was statistically significant. Around 58% of immigrants arriving for work were EU citizens, 24% were non-EU citizens and 18% were British citizens.

IPS estimates show that 162,000 EU citizens arrived for work in YE June 2015, up from 138,000 in YE June 2014. This increase has been driven by a statistically significant increase in EU2 citizens coming for work, from 24,000 to 42,000.

EU immigration for work began to increase following the EU Accession (enlargement) in 2004, from 65,000 in 2004, to 125,000 in 2007. There was a decline in EU immigration for work during 2008 and 2009, particularly among EU8 citizens, following which it remained steady at around 90,000 until 2012. Since then EU immigration for work has increased (Figure 8) particularly by EU2 and EU15 nationals.

Approximately 62% (101,000) of all EU immigrants arriving for work-related reasons reported that they had a definite job to go to, a statistically significant increase of 22,000. The equivalent percentages for the EU15, EU8 and EU2 citizenship groups are 68%, 57% and 60% respectively. Around 38% (61,000) of EU citizens arriving for work came without a definite job and were intending to look for work.

A further 54,000 immigrants coming for a definite job were non-EU citizens, also a statistically significant increase (of 11,000).

Data from LFS and National Insurance number (NINo) registrations indicate there has been an increase in immigration for work among EU citizens. However, it should be noted that both NINo and labour market statistics will include short-term workers as well as long-term migrants, have definitional differences and are not directly comparable with each other. More information on this is available in the MSQR Information for Users (365.2 Kb Pdf) .

According to the latest IPS figures, the number of long-term non-EU immigrants arriving for work-related reasons showed an increase (not statistically significant) from 55,000 to 67,000. Of the non-EU immigrants who arrived for work-related reasons, 54,000 (81%) had a job to go to, reflecting the need to obtain a work visa for people coming from outside the EU, which in most cases would require sponsorship by an employer. Around half of those non-EU immigrants arriving for work related reasons were Asian nationals, of which 91% have a definite job.

National Insurance number (NINo) allocations to overseas nationals

Figure 9 shows the rolling 12 month totals for NINo registrations to overseas nationals, split by EU and non-EU nationals. In YE September 2015, 862,000 overseas nationals registered for a NINo, an increase of 194,000 (29%) on the previous year. Of the 862,000 overseas nationals, three-quarters were from within the EU.

It should be noted that these figures also include short-term migrants and are not a direct measure of when a person migrated to the UK, as those registering may have arrived to live in the UK weeks, months or years before registering – and may have subsequently returned abroad.

Although figures do accurately reflect the number of NINos registered over time, a change to the process of recording NINos during the quarter April to June 2014, means that the volume of NINo registrations recorded were lower in that quarter and then higher in the subsequent quarter July to September 2014 than would otherwise be the case. Comparisons of NINo registrations over time between these periods should be viewed with caution.

The sharp rise in registrations to EU2 nationals in 2014 is reflecting migration over an extended period. Over a third of the EU2 nationals registering for a NINo in the year from January 2014 had reported that they were already in the UK before transitional controls were lifted on 1 January 2014.

For EU citizens, the number of NINo registrations in YE September 2015 was 655,000, an increase of 150,000 (30%) on the previous year. The 5 EU nationalities with the most new NINo registrations in YE September 2015 were:

-Romanian (165,000)

  • Polish (122,000)

  • Italian (60,000)

  • Spanish (54,000)

  • Bulgarian (41,000)

For non-EU citizens, the number of NINo registrations in YE September 2015 was 206,000, an increase of 45,000 (28%) on the previous year. The 5 non-EU nationalities with the most new NINo registrations in YE September 2015 were:

  • Indian (37,000)

  • Australian (14,000)

  • Chinese (14,000)

  • Pakistani (14,000)

  • Nigerian (12,000)

Labour market statistics

The latest labour market statistics from the labour force survey show that the number of non-UK nationals in employment increased by 326,000 (11%), to 3.2 million in July to September 2015 compared, with the same quarter in the previous year (2.9 million). The total number of British nationals in employment increased by 122,000 to 28.1 million.

Employment of EU nationals increased by 324,000 (19%) to 2.0 million whereas employment of non-EU nationals remained broadly similar at 1.2 million. The growth in overall employment over the last year was 430,000 and of this, 27% can be accounted for by a growth in employment for UK nationals and 73% by the growth in employment amongst foreign nationals (where nationality is known). (These estimates relate to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs and therefore show NET changes in the number of people in employment, not the proportion of new jobs that have been filled by UK and non-UK workers.)

Labour market statistics show an estimated 201,000 EU2 citizens were employed in the UK in July to September 2015, an increase of 20% from the same quarter in the previous year. This follows the lifting of labour market restrictions for EU2 citizens in January 2014.

There was also an increase of 23% to 838,000 for EU15 (excluding British) citizens and an increase of 16% to 975,000 for EU8 citizens. Labour market statistics are a measure of the stock of people working in the UK and are not designed to provide a measure of migration flows. As a result, changes in the labour market stock cannot be directly compared to long-term net migration changes.

Work-related visas (Non-EEA nationals)

Total work visas include a number of different categories of visa, including short-term temporary workers and the highly skilled. There have previously been falls in work-related visas granted following the introduction of the points-based system and the onset of the recession in 2008. More recently the closure of the tier 1 general and tier 1 post-study categories to new applicants has led to further reductions in work visas relating to Tier 1 – as described in the Home Office Work topic report . Trends in visa numbers also reflect the changing economic environment. More recently the numbers of skilled work visas (tier 2) have started to rise, reflecting the growth in the UK economy and continuing demand for migrant workers.

In YE September 2015, there were 168,447 work-related visas in all categories granted, up 4% (+6,957), largely due to increases in Tier 2 skilled work (+6,088).

Over the same period, there was also a corresponding 8% increase in sponsored visa applications for skilled work (to 56,131, main applicants). The largest numbers of applications (Figure 10) were for:

  • the information and communication sector (23,890; 43% of the total)

  • professional, scientific and technical activities (10,711; 19%)

  • financial and insurance activities (6,832; 12%)

Total work-related visas granted (non-EU nationals, main applicants) rose by 6% to 122,909 including a 4,105 (8%) increase to 54,174 for skilled work (Tier 2) visas.

Immigration for study

LTIM estimates of immigration to the UK to study increased from 175,000 to 192,000 in YE June 2015 for all nationalities as a whole (not statistically significant). (Over the same period, visa applications to study at a UK university (non-EU, main applicants) increased (+0.2%) to 167,425.) IPS estimates show that 71% (131,000) of long-term immigrants to the UK for study are non-EU citizens. Of these, two-thirds are Asian citizens. Immigration of all Asian citizens for study rose from 78,000 in YE June 2008 to a peak of 166,000 in YE September 2011. This number then decreased driven by lower numbers of South Asian citizens arriving for study and has remained steady at around 90,000.

There are a range of reasons why LTIM and IPS figures for long-term migrants for study may be different from Home Office figures for study visas granted. For example, the Home Office visa statistics include short-term students migrating to the UK for less than 1 year, but only record students from outside the EU.

Home Office statistics show that there were 213,560 visas granted for the purposes of study (excluding the “short-term student” category, previously called “student visitors”) in YE September 2015, a fall of 4% compared with the previous year. The 5 nationalities with the most study visas granted accounted for 54% of all study visas granted in YE September 2015, with the largest numbers going to:

  • Chinese nationals (70,332 or 33% of the total)

  • US nationals (14,250)

  • Indian nationals (11,652)

There were higher numbers of study visas granted (excluding “short-term students”) for:

  • Chinese nationals (+6,026; +9%)

  • Indonesian nationals (+261; +11%)

There were lower numbers of study visas granted (excluding “short-term students”) for:

  • Brazilian nationals (-3,033; -56%)

  • Libyan nationals (-1,935; -51%)

  • Pakistani nationals (-1,895; -39%)

The total number of study-related sponsored visa applications (main applicants excluding the "short term student" category) fell 4% in YE September 2015 (204,157) compared to the previous 12 months (211,793). Statistics on sponsored applications for visas by education sector show that the falls over recent years in visas granted to non-EEA nationals for study have been in the non-university sector (Figure 11).

In YE September 2015, visa applications to study at a UK university (main applicants) fell by 2% to 168,229. There were also falls in:

  • the further education sector (to 16,191; -19%)

  • English Language schools (to 3,061; -10%)

  • the independent schools sector (to 13,766; -2%)

“Short-term students” (formerly “student visitors”) are not counted as long-term migrants and cannot extend their stay and are therefore not covered in detail in this report. There were 279,000 “short-term student” admissions in the calendar year 2014, much higher than the number of “short-term student” visas granted over the same period (73,607). Not all nationalities require a visa to visit the UK for short periods of study. For example, the USA, Brazil and Japan accounted for 121,000, 19,100 and 17,200 respectively of the “short-term student” admissions to the UK in 2014.

There is more information on immigration to the UK for study, see the Home Office topic report on Study and the Home Office research report on Student Visitors.

Immigration for other reasons

Reasons for migrating other than work or study include accompanying or joining family or friends, asylum and returning home to live. Figure 7 shows these other reasons in brief.

LTIM estimates show that the third most common reason for migrating to the UK is to accompany or join others. In YE June 2015, 80,000 long-term migrants arrived in the UK to accompany or join others (Figure 7), similar to the previous year.

The long-term migration accompany/join category can include people who are arriving to marry a UK resident as well as people coming as a family member of another migrant coming for other reasons, such as to work2.

Family visas (Non-EEA nationals)

There are a number of ways that allow people to come to the UK for family reasons. The traditional “family route” is made up of those coming to join or accompany family members who are British citizens or settled people. This includes fiancé(e)s, proposed civil partners, spouses, civil partners, unmarried or same-sex partners, children and adult dependent relatives. Home Office entry clearance visa statistics show that 36,724 family route visas were granted in YE September 2015, an increase of 6% compared with YE September 2014 (34,598). This is nearly half the level of the peak in YE March 2007 (72,894).

Further information on visas granted for family reasons has been published by the Home Office.

Asylum applications

There were 29,024 asylum applications in YE September 2015, an increase of 19% compared with the previous year (24,324). The number of applications remains low relative to the peak number of applications in 2002 (84,132), and represents only 5% of long-term migration inflows (albeit these are not the same sources and cannot be directly compared).

In YE September 2015, the largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Eritrea (3,726), followed by Sudan (2,842), Iran (2,407) and Syria (2,402).

A total of 12,011 people were granted asylum or an alternative form of protection. Grant rates for asylum, humanitarian protection, discretionary leave or other grants of stay vary considerably between nationalities. For example, 84% of the total initial decisions made for nationals of Sudan were grants of asylum or another form of protection, compared with 21% for Pakistani nationals.

In addition, a total of 776 people were resettled in the UK in YE September 2015. Of these, 162 (252 since the scheme began) were granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. On 7 September the Prime Minister announced an expansion to the existing Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. Through this expansion it is expected that 20,000 Syrians in need of protection will be resettled in the UK by 2020.

Further information on asylum has been published by the Home Office.

Settlement in the UK

The number of people granted permission to stay permanently in the UK fell by 12% to 98,506 in YE September 2015. The number of grants is low relative to the peak number of grants in the year ending September 2010 (241,586), and similar to levels seen in 1999 (97,117). The decrease was largely accounted for by falls in family-related grants (-15,645).

In February 2015 the Home Office published its “migrant journey: fifth report”, which shows how non-EEA migrants change their immigration status or achieve settlement in the UK.

Main points include:

  • 20% (18,359) of those issued skilled work visas (with a potential path to settlement) in the 2008 cohort had been granted settlement 5 years later and a further 8% (6,912) still had valid leave to remain

  • Indian nationals were issued the largest proportion (39%) of skilled work visas in the 2008 cohort and, of these skilled Indian nationals, 19% had received settlement after 5 years, while a further 7% still had valid leave to remain

In May 2015 the Home Office published an update to the article “Extensions of stay by previous category”. Looking at extensions data by individuals’ previous category, 7,043 former students were granted extensions for work in 2014 (main applicants). The comparable figure for 2013 was 6,238 and for 2012 was 38,505. The large fall from 2012 to 2013 reflected the closure of the Tier 1 post-study category to new entrants in 2012.

Notes for immigration to the UK

  1. Throughout the report, users are encouraged to review our published tables and note the confidence intervals around our estimates. These confidence intervals give an indication of the accuracy of the estimates and the extent to which comparisons can be drawn between them.
  2. More detail can be found in the Home Office Immigration Statistics User Guide.
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5. Emigration from the UK

  • The latest LTIM emigration estimate for the year ending June 2015 was 300,000 with a confidence interval of +/-20,000

Recent levels of emigration had remained stable and well below the high of 427,0001 in 2008. The latest data show an apparent reduction in emigration from the previous year, of 20,000, though not statistically significant.

British citizens

British citizens accounted for 43% of emigrants in YE June 2015 (130,000). Emigration of British citizens has remained at around the same level since 2009, having fallen from the peak of 207,000 in 2006 (Figure 12).

EU citizens

The estimated number of EU citizens emigrating from the UK was 85,000 in YE June 2015 the same as the estimated number of EU citizens who emigrated in YE June 2014. (From here on, any reference to change, such as increase or decrease, refers to this same time period comparison, unless otherwise stated.) LTIM estimates are not available for every individual EU citizenship grouping. However, International Passenger Survey (IPS) estimates show that emigration among the various EU citizenship groups has remained stable over the last few years.

Half of non-British emigration was accounted for by EU citizens, with 54% of EU emigrants leaving for work-related reasons.

Non-EU citizens

The LTIM estimates show the number of non-EU citizens emigrating from the UK in YE June 2015 was 85,000 a statistically significant decrease from 105,000, driven by a statistically significant decrease in emigration by citizens of the New Commonwealth.

IPS figures showed a statistically significant decrease in emigration by citizens of countries outside Europe and Asia, from 37,000 to 25,000. Of the non-EU emigrants, 64% were of Asian citizenship and accounted for a third of all non-British emigration; 70% of non-EU emigrants were emigrating for work-related reasons.

Reasons for emigration

In the LTIM estimates for YE June 2015, work-related reasons remain the main reason given for emigration, accounting for 170,000 (57%) of emigrants, a reduction from 180,000 the previous year. All reasons remained relatively stable for all citizenships (as a whole).

Non-EU emigration for work-related reasons saw a statistically significant decrease to 56,000 in YE June 2015 from 67,000 the previous year. This was driven by a statistically significant decrease of 8,000 (from 24,000 to 16,000) for New Commonwealth citizens. Almost all of the non-EU decrease was for emigrants looking for work (down from 40,000 to 29,000) (statistically significant).

Of the 29,000 emigrants who, in the IPS, stated their main reason for migration as “going home to live”, 18,000 were EU citizens and 10,000 were citizens of non-EU countries. The peak of people leaving the UK to return home was in 2008 when 62,000 emigrated for this reason. This peak coincides with the start of the “economic downturn”.

For more detail on emigration, previous Home Office Research Report 68, published in November 2012, presents information from academic research and surveys drawn together to present the main aspects of long-term emigration from the UK. This includes recent outward migration and some trends over the last 20 years, separately for British, EU and non-EU citizens.

Reasons for emigration

In the LTIM estimates for YE June 2015, work-related reasons remain the main reason given for emigration, accounting for 170,000 (57%) of emigrants, a reduction from 180,000 the previous year. All reasons remained relatively stable for all citizenships (as a whole).

Non-EU emigration for work-related reasons saw a statistically significant decrease to 56,000 in YE June 2015 from 67,000 the previous year. This was driven by a statistically significant decrease of 8,000 (from 24,000 to 16,000) for New Commonwealth citizens. Almost all of the non-EU decrease was for emigrants looking for work (down from 40,000 to 29,000) (statistically significant).

Of the 29,000 emigrants who, in the IPS, stated their main reason for migration as “going home to live”, 18,000 were EU citizens and 10,000 were citizens of non-EU countries. The peak of people leaving the UK to return home was in 2008 when 62,000 emigrated for this reason. This peak coincides with the start of the “economic downturn”.

For more detail on emigration, previous Home Office Research Report 68, published in November 2012, presents information from academic research and surveys drawn together to present the main aspects of long-term emigration from the UK. This includes recent outward migration and some trends over the last 20 years, separately for British, EU and non-EU citizens.

People emigrating from the UK by previous main reason for immigration

In 2012, a new question was added to the IPS asking current emigrants who had previously immigrated to the UK about their main reason for migration at the time that they arrived. Of the 278,000 individuals shown in IPS data to be emigrating from the UK, 93,000 were “new” long-term emigrants (individuals who had not previously lived away from the UK for 12 months or more) and 185,000 were long-term emigrants who had formerly immigrated to the UK.

Work was the most common main reason for immigrating to the UK reported by former immigrants who emigrated in YE June 2015. The estimated number of emigrants who had previously immigrated to the UK for formal study has seen a statistically significant reduction from 72,000 to 57,000. This is driven by a statistically significant decrease for New Commonwealth citizens (from 18,000 to 11,000), possibly reflecting the lower numbers of New Commonwealth citizens arriving to study since 2011. Of these 57,000 former student emigrants, 38,000 (67%) were non-EU citizens (a statistically significant decrease from 51,000) and 16,000 (28%) were EU emigrants. Of the 38,000 non-EU citizens, 31,000 were citizens of Asian countries.

There are further estimates related to this IPS question in Table 4a in the accompanying provisional tables for this MSQR release.

Notes for emigration from the UK

  1. Throughout the report, users are encouraged to review our published tables and note the confidence intervals around our estimates. These confidence intervals give an indication of the accuracy of the estimates and the extent to which comparisons can be drawn between them.
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6. Where are people migrating?

This section relates to the final 2014 published tables (released annually each November) and contains information on migration by UK area, country of last residence for immigrants and country of next residence for emigrants in the calendar year 2014. The published final LTIM tables contain estimates on a number of other variables.

Migration by UK Area

IPS estimates of Long-Term International Migration are used with data from the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency to derive estimates of migration into and out of areas within the UK. Inflow IPS data is calibrated against LFS data to compensate for many immigrants’ uncertainty as to where they will settle.

Of the constituent countries of the UK, the vast majority of immigrants arrive to live in England. In 2014, 555,000 immigrants arrived to live in England, 88% of the total 632,000 immigrants to the UK. The relative proportions of immigrants arriving in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are 6%, 4% and 2% respectively.

Within England, 178,000 people immigrated to London in 2014, compared to 140,000 in 2013 (a statistically significant increase). This is a similar level to that seen in 2005, although not as high as the peak in 2000 when immigration to London was 206,000. In 2014 the South East (70,000) and the East (70,000) received the largest numbers of immigrants outside London. While immigration to the East is the highest level on record since LTIM records began in 1991, it is not a statistically significant increase compared to 2013 (56,000). In total, London, the South East and the East received 50% of all immigrants to the UK in 2014. The North West region received the highest number of immigrants outside London, the South East and East with 55,000.

England also had the largest number of emigrants in 2014, with 277,000 people emigrating from England to countries outside the UK (87% of the 319,000 emigrants from the UK). Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales had 8%, 3% and 2% of emigrants from the UK respectively.

In 2014 England had a net international migration of 278,000, a statistically significant increase from 189,000 in the previous year. Wales saw an increase in net migration from 14,000 to 20,000; while this is not a statistically significant increase this is the highest ever estimate of net migration to Wales. Scotland also saw an increase in net migration from 4,000 in 2013 to 12,000 in 2014. Northern Ireland had net migration of 3,000 in 2014, compared to 2,000 in 2013.

Other research provides more detail on which immigrants migrate to different areas of the country. There is more information in the Census and Home Office Social and Public Service Impacts of International Migration at the Local Level reports.

Where did immigrants to the UK previously live?

International Passenger Survey estimates show that immigrants came to the UK from many different countries. Any differences between the final 2013 and final 2014 estimates are not statistically significant unless otherwise stated.

The 5 countries of last residence with the largest number of immigrants to the UK for 2014 are:

  1. India (45,000; 8% of all immigrants), ranked third last year. This is the third time it has been ranked first in the last 5 years.
  2. China (39,000; 7% of all immigrants), ranked first last year. China has remained in the top 5 since 2009.
  3. Romania (34,000; 6% of all immigrants). Ranked ninth last year, Romania has entered the top 5 ranking for the first time. The estimates of Romanian citizens immigrating to the UK increased by 127% compared to the final 2013 estimates.
  4. Poland (32,000; 5% of all immigrants), ranked fifth last year. Poland has remained in the top 5 since 2005.
  5. Spain (31,000; 5% of all immigrants), ranked second last year.

Australia (ranked sixth) has fallen out of the 5 countries of last residence with the largest number of immigrants to the UK for the first time since records began in 1975.

Country of last residence will not necessarily reflect nationality. For example 26% of those arriving from Spain were British citizens in 2014. However, very few of those arriving from India, China, Romania or Poland were British citizens.

Where do emigrants from the UK intend to live?

International Passenger Survey estimates show that the 5 countries of next residence with the largest number of emigrants from the UK for 2014 are:

  1. Australia (38,000; 13% of all emigrants). Australia has been the highest ranked destination country by number of emigrants from the UK since 1996.

  2. France (24,000; 8% of all emigrants), ranked fifth last year. France has been in the top 5 since 1990.

  3. China (19,000; 6% of all emigrants), ranked fourth last year. China has been in the top 5 for the last 3 years.

  4. Poland (18,000; 6% of all emigrants), ranked tenth last year.

  5. Spain (17,000; 6% of all emigrants), ranked third last year. Spain’s rank varies from year to year, but it has been in the top 10 destination countries with the largest number of emigrants from the UK since 1997

Of those who emigrated to Australia in 2014, 79% were British citizens. Similarly British citizens comprised just over half of those who emigrated to France (54%), and 41% of those going to Spain. China and Poland were not in the top 10 countries for British emigrants.

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7. Accuracy of migration estimates

Surveys gather information from a sample of people from a population. In the case of the IPS, the population is passengers travelling through the main entry and exit points from the UK including airports, seaports and the Channel Tunnel. The estimates produced are based on only one of a number of possible samples that could have been drawn at a given point in time. Each of these possible samples would produce an estimated number of migrants. These may be different to the true value that would have been obtained if it were possible to ask everyone passing through about their migration intentions. This is known as sampling variability.

The published estimate is based upon the single sample that was taken and is the best estimate of the true value based on the data collected. However, to account for sampling variability, the estimates are published alongside a 95% confidence interval.

The confidence interval is a measure of the uncertainty around the estimate. Confidence intervals become larger for more detailed estimates (such as citizenship by reason for migrating). This is because the number of people in the sample who have these specific characteristics (for example, EU8 citizens arriving to study in the UK) is smaller than the number of people sampled within a category at a higher level (such as the total number of EU citizens arriving to study in the UK). The larger the confidence interval, the less precise is the estimate. Therefore users of migration statistics are advised to use the highest level breakdown of data where possible.

95% confidence intervals are used, which is a widely accepted level, meaning that over many repeats of the sample under the same conditions, we would expect the confidence interval to contain the true value 95 times out of 100. Equivalently, we can say that there would be a 1 in 20 chance that the true value would lie outside of the range of the 95% confidence interval.

Estimates from the IPS may change from one period to the next simply due to sampling variability. In other words, the change may be due to which individuals were selected to answer the survey, and may not represent any real-world change in migration patterns.

Statistical tests can be used to determine whether any increases or decreases that we see in the estimates from the IPS could be due to chance, or whether they are likely to represent a real change in migration patterns. If the tests show that the changes are unlikely to have occurred through chance alone, and are likely to reflect a real change, then the change is described as being statistically significant. The usual standard is to carry out these tests at the 5% level of statistical significance. This means that in 1 out of 20 differences identified as statistically significant, it is not possible to assert that the difference is the result of a real change.

For information on the accuracy of these statistics, the difference between provisional and final figures and guidance on comparing different data sources, please see the “MSQR Information for Users” (365.2 Kb Pdf)

Revisions to net migration estimates in light of the 2011 Census

In April 2014, we published a report examining the quality of international migration statistics between 2001 and 2011 (1.04 Mb Pdf) , using the results of the 2011 Census. A main finding of the report was that over the 10 year period annual net migration estimates were a total of 346,000 lower than total net migration implied by the 2011 Census. However, the report also showed that the quality of international migration estimates improved following changes made to the IPS in 2009.

Within the report, we published a revised series of net migration estimates for the UK. Published tables have been updated on our website to include the revised estimates. The report (1.04 Mb Pdf), a summary and guidance (55.9 Kb Pdf) on how to use these revised figures are available on our website.

Revisions to migration statistics for population by country of birth and nationality

In July 2015, we published a revised back-series of estimates on the population of the UK by country of birth and nationality. The revisions, covering calendar year data from 2004 to 2013, are based on the Annual Population Survey (APS). The APS has recently been re-weighted in light of the 2011 Census results.

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8. List of products

The following are links to the products underlying this report, or otherwise associated with the co-ordinated migration release of 26 November 2015. The department releasing each product is indicated.

The MSQR user information (ONS) (365.2 Kb Pdf) – guidance on interpreting confidence intervals, the difference between provisional and final estimates, and the comparability and quality of input data sources.

International migration statistics first time user guide (ONS) (375.6 Kb Pdf) – an introduction to the main concepts underpinning migration statistics including basic information on definitions, methodology, use of confidence intervals and information on the range of available statistics related to migration.

Guidance on revised net migration statistics (ONS) (55.9 Kb Pdf) – information for users on how to interpret the revised net migration estimates for 2001 to 2011 alongside published LTIM estimates.

Long-term international migration – Frequently asked questions and background notes (ONS) (453.1 Kb Pdf) – information on recent trends in migration, methods and coverage, comparisons with international migration estimates, a complete list of definitions and terms and a guide to the published tables.

Quality and methodology information for international migration (ONS) (207.4 Kb Pdf) – information on the usability and fitness for purpose of long-term international migration estimates.

Long-term international migration estimates methodology (ONS) (551.2 Kb Pdf) – a detailed methodology document for LTIM estimates, including information on current methodology and assumptions, data sources including the International Passenger Survey and changes to the methodology since 1991.

International passenger survey: Quality information in relation to migration flows (ONS) (303.8 Kb Pdf) – an overview of the quality and reliability of the International Passenger Survey (IPS) in relation to producing Long-Term International Migration estimates.

Local area migration indicators suite (ONS) – This is an interactive product bringing together different migration-related data sources to allow users to compare indicators of migration at local authority level. This product is newly updated as of 27 August 2015.

Migration theme page (ONS) – This provides the most up to date figures and highlights the latest summaries, publications and infographics for internal and international migration.

Population theme page (ONS) – This provides the most up to date figures and highlights the latest summaries, publications and infographics for different components that contribute to population change, including migration.

Overview of population statistics (ONS) – This describes different aspects of population we measure and why. Information on how these are measured, and the statistics themselves, can be found via the links provided within the document.

Population by country of birth and nationality (ONS) – short report focusing on changes in the UK resident population by country of birth and nationality for the year ending December 2014. This product is newly updated as of 27 August 2015.

Population by country of birth and nationality, reweighted data for calendar year 2004 to 2013 (ONS) – Publication of revised datasets following the reweighting of the Annual Population Survey in light of results of the 2011 Census. The product was published in July 2015 as a one-off publication.

Short-term international migration annual report (ONS) – a report and tables detailing estimates of short-term migration to and from the UK for England and Wales for the year ending Mid-2013. The product is published annually in May.

Quarterly releases on 26 November 2015:

  1. Provisional Long-Term International Migration, Year Ending June 2015 (ONS)

  2. Immigration Statistics July to September 2015 (Home Office)

  3. National Insurance number (NINo) Allocations to Adult Overseas Nationals to September 2015 (DWP)

Annual releases on 26 November 2015:

  1. Final Long-Term International Migration figures for the calendar year 2014 (ONS)

Additional useful links:

Labour Market Statistics - November 2015 (ONS) - includes estimates of the number of people in employment in the UK by country of birth and nationality.

Quality of Long-Term International Migration Estimates from 2001 to 2011 (ONS) (1.04 Mb Pdf)

International Migration Timeline (ONS)

Final Long-Term International Migration (2014) (ONS)

A Comparison of International Estimates of Long-Term Migration (ONS)

Migrant Journey Fifth Report (Home Office)

Immigration Statistics User Guide (Home Office)

Future releases

There are no remaining releases in 2015.

The next release will be Thursday 25th February 2016.

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9 .Glossary

Annual Population Survey

The Annual Population Survey (APS) is a continuous household survey, covering the UK, with the aim of providing estimates between censuses of main social and labour market variables at a local area level. The APS is not a stand-alone survey, but uses data combined from 2 waves from the main Labour Force Survey (LFS) with data collected on a local sample boost. Apart from employment and unemployment, the topics covered in the survey include housing, ethnicity, religion, health and education.

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 or 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, over many repeats of the sample under the same conditions, we would expect the confidence interval to contain the true value 95 times out of 100. Equivalently, we can say that there would be a 1 in 20 chance that the true value would lie outside of the range of the 95% confidence interval. The uppermost and lowermost values of the confidence interval are termed “confidence limits”.

European Economic Area (EEA)

The EEA consists of the 28 countries of the EU (see below), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Swiss nationals are treated as EEA nationals for immigration purposes; however for statistical purposes Switzerland is not included in EEA estimates by ONS.

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. Estimates for the EU quoted in this bulletin and accompanying tables exclude British citizens, who are reported as a separate group.

European Union (EU) Accession Countries

The accession countries are those that joined the EU in 2004 or later. 10 joined in 2004 (the EU8, plus Cyprus and Malta), 2 joined in 2007 (the EU2) and Croatia joined in 2013.

EU2

The EU2 (formerly known as the A2) are the 2 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 1 of 2 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 8 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 2 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. However, EU15 statistics exclude 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. Of those interviewed, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people each year are identified as long-term international migrants.

Long-Term International Migration (LTIM)

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

Migrant

We use 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.”

This is the definition used to calculate net migration, and is also used for the UK usually resident population estimate series. This definition does not necessarily coincide with those used by other organisations.

National Insurance number (NINo)

National Insurance numbers are issued to non-UK nationals immigrating for work. The number of NINos will include people who are coming to the UK for short periods or temporary purposes, as well as long-term migrants. The figures are based on recorded registration date on the national insurance recording and pay as you earn system (NPS), ie after the NINo application process has been completed. This may be a number of weeks or months (and in some cases years) after arriving in the UK.

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

New Commonwealth (ONS Statistical Grouping)

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

It also includes British Dependent Territories and British Overseas citizens. Up to and including 2003, Malta and Cyprus are included in the new Commonwealth grouping. From 2004, the year of accession, they are included in the EU. Malta and Cyprus are members of both the Commonwealth and the EU 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 and The Gambia withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 and 2013 respectively, but again the definition for this grouping has remained unchanged.

New country groupings

We introduced new country groupings in 2014. These are only available for IPS estimates, not LTIM. A listing of which countries are in each of the old and new groups is available.

Old Commonwealth (ONS Statistical Grouping)

The old Commonwealth statistical grouping consists of 4 countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

Points Based System (PBS)

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

“Short-term student” (formerly student visitor)

The “short-term student” (formerly student visitor) category provides for those people who wish to come to the UK as a visitor and undertake a short period of study which will be completed within the period of their leave (maximum 6 months unless applying under the concession for English language courses of 11 months, but in either case with no extension of stay allowed). “Short-term students” are not allowed to work part-time or undertake a paid or unpaid work placement as part of their course. Additionally some students in the study category (Tier 4 of the Points Based System) have short-term visas (under 1 year).

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

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10 .Background notes

  1. 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.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Nicola White
migstatsunit@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444097