1. Main points

  • There are 3 measures of short-term migration. Those that migrate between 1 to 12 months for all reasons, 3 to 12 months for all reasons and the narrower United Nations (UN) definition of those that migrate for 3 to 12 months for work and study. All estimates in this report are for short-term international migration to and from England and Wales.

  • Using the UN definition in the year ending (YE) June 2014, there were 165,000 short-term immigrants, a statistically significant increase (43,000) compared with 122,000 in YE June 2013. There were 44,000 visits away compared with 39,000 the previous year.

  • In YE June 2014, short-term immigration for 3 to 12 months, for all reasons stood at 317,000, up 87,000 (statistically significant) from YE June 2013. Of these, 37% (118,000) were for the reason “other” (which includes activities such as: holidays and travelling; visiting family and friends; and working holidays). Short-term emigration of 3 to 12 months for all reasons was 399,000 compared with 384,000 in YE June 2013.

  • Short-term immigration of 1 to 12 months for all reasons in YE June 2014 was 1.2 million, a statistically significant increase of 110,000 visits compared with the previous year. Of these 62% (719,000) were for the reason “other”. Nearly 3 out of 4 (73%) of 1 to 12 month short-term immigrants leave within 3 months and all leave within 12 months. Short-term emigration of 1 to 12 months for all reasons was 2.4 million, similar to YE June 2013.

  • There were more than twice as many visits from England and Wales (1 to 12 months) than to England and Wales (1 to 12 months) and this pattern has been consistent since mid-2004. There is a similar pattern for the 3 to 12 month migrants but the gap is a lot closer. This is the opposite when using the UN definition of short-term migration.

  • “Other reasons” are the most common main reason for short-term international migration both to and from England and Wales.

  • Short-term immigration of 1 to 12 months for employment shows that 91% of visits (125,000) were made by EU citizens. This is a statistically significant increase of 33,000 on the previous year and half of this increase can be accounted for by a statistically significant increase in visits for employment purposes by EU2 citizens (29,000 in YE June 2014 compared with 12,000 in YE June 2013). A similar pattern is seen for those immigrating for 3 to 12 months.

  • In YE June 2014, the stock estimates showed that, on average, during the year there were 420,000 short-term emigrants compared with 241,000 short-term immigrants using the 1 to 12 month definition. The figures using the 3 to 12 month definition were 159,000 and 129,000 respectively. This shows that the impact of short-term migration, on average, reduces the resident population in England and Wales using either the 1 to 12 month or 3 to 12 month definition. However, using the UN definition the opposite is the case but the numbers are much smaller: 19,000 short-term emigrants compared with 72,000 short-term immigrants.

  • Home Office data on the number of entry clearance visas for non-EEA nationals issued show that there were 49,000 short-term work visas issued in 2015, of which 67% were for less than 6 months. Also in 2015, 60,000 short-term sponsored study visas (85% were issued for up to 6 months) and 63,000 short-term study visas were issued (49% were issued for up to 6 months).

  • On 12 May 2016, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published a reconciliation of the long-term international migration estimates and National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations. This analysis looked at short-term migrants who might be expected to apply for a NINo and included those who immigrated for 1 to 12 months for employment, for study and work (other).

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2. Things you need to know

A short-term international migrant is someone who visits a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of between 1 and 12 months, as opposed to a long-term migrant, who changes their country of usual residence for a year or more.

Short-term international migration (STIM) estimates for England and Wales are available on the basis of 3 definitions:

  • United Nations (UN) definition of a short-term migrant - 3 to 12 months for the purposes of work or study1.

  • 3 to 12 months - all reasons for migration, this includes the UN definition and the category “other”

  • 1 to 12 months - all reasons for migration, this includes the above but for 1 to 12 months. As such this definition captures more visits made for holidays and to visit family and friends.

The datasets associated with this publication are available for all 3 definitions and throughout the report we refer to all definitions.

Currently STIM estimates are only available for England and Wales. For information on why these are not available at the UK level please see STIM Frequently Asked Questions.

Short-term international migration (STIM) estimates are produced directly from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) at the end of the person’s stay in the country. Using this method we know the person has actually left or returned to the UK. STIM estimates have been published annually since 2007.

The method used for STIM is different from the method used for estimating long-term international migration (LTIM), where people are interviewed at the start of their stay and defined as long-term by their intended length of stay. LTIM estimates are available for the UK.

On 12 May 2016 we published an information note explaining the reasons why long-term international immigration figures from the IPS could differ from the number of National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations. It noted that the 2 series are likely to differ because of short-term immigration and timing differences between arriving in the UK and registering for a NINo. It emphasised that the estimates derived from the IPS are the most appropriate for measuring long-term immigration. NINo registrations data are not a good measure of LTIM, but they do provide a valuable source of information to highlight emerging changes in patterns of migration.

The analysis used 1 to 12 month short-term migration estimates for employment, study and work (other) to help explain the gap as this group was most likely to contain people who might register for a NINo. In YE June 2014, there were 251,000 EU citizens immigrating to England and Wales for 1 to 12 months for the reason of employment, study or work (other) compared with 239,000 the previous year. This is not the total level of short-term international migration but the most appropriate to help explain the gap. An adhoc analysis was also run to estimate the number of short-term international migrants in 2015 using “intentions” data. Two estimates were included to reflect the uncertainty and the fact that they can be estimated in different ways. The analysis provides more information on this. The mid-2015 “actual” STIM estimates will be published in May 2017.

Adding together LTIM and STIM estimates does not provide a reliable measure of all immigration to the UK within a specific time period. Short-term immigration flows are based on journeys, not people, and have methodological differences from LTIM flows. In addition, it is possible for someone to be both a long-term and short-term migrant in the same period, and STIM estimates are based on actual flows whereas LTIM covers migrants' intentions.

However, although they cannot be added together to provide one single, accurate measure of international migration, LTIM and STIM estimates of immigration and emigration should be considered alongside and in the context of each other. These estimates represent different people immigrating for different reasons but they can help to provide an overall picture of international migration. Historical data on short-term and long-term international migrants are published on our website, and there is a summary of the definitional differences between these data. For more detail on the NINo and IPS comparison, you are encouraged to read the report.

To be included as a short-term international immigrant to England and Wales under any of these definitions, a person arriving must have been usually resident outside the UK (these tend to be foreign citizens, but can include British citizens). Similarly, a short-term international emigrant from England and Wales must have been usually resident in the UK (these tend to be British citizens, but include other residents).

Previously the short-term international migration annual report reported mainly on flows for 3 to 12 months. More recently there has been a user interest in all 3 definitions of short-term migrants, so the report reflects this. For more information on long-term migrants please see Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, May 2016.

Notes for Things you need to know

  1. See Annex A for further details of the UN definition.
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3. What do these latest figures show about short-term international migration over time?

Figure 1 shows that for the 1 to 12 months and 3 to 12 months definition of short-term international migration, there are considerably more short-term emigration visits by usual residents of England and Wales to other countries than there are visits to England and Wales by usual residents of other countries. There are also considerably higher short-term international migration flows for periods of 1 to 12 months than there are for 3 to 12 months. This is largely due to the 1 to 12 months definition capturing more visits made for holidays and to visit family and friends, as most of these visits are likely to be for a shorter time period.

1 to 12 months – all reasons for migration

In year ending (YE) June 2014, there were an estimated 1.2 million short-term international visits to England and Wales for 1 to 12 months compared with 1 million in YE June 2013, a statistically significant increase of 110,000 visits. Of these, 45% (516,000) were visits by non-EU citizens, 41% (475,000) by EU citizens and 14% (167,000) British citizens.

Non-EU citizens accounted for the largest estimated number of short-term international visits, with 516,000 visits, a statistically significant increase of 59,000 compared with the previous year. This can be accounted for by statistically significant increases in visits from North American citizens (up 26,000), Oceanian citizens (up 24,000) and Middle East and Central Asian citizens (up 18,000).

In YE June 2014, there were an estimated 2.4 million short-term visits by England and Wales residents away from the UK for 1 to 12 months, similar to YE June 2013. As expected, British citizens make up the largest proportion of international visits away from England and Wales (71% (1.7 million)) with 29% (698,000) visits by non-British citizens.

In YE June 2014, Australia was the most common country of residence of short-term international immigrants to England and Wales for 1 to 12 months, with an estimated 110,000 visits. Either Australia or USA has been the most common country of residence for the past 5 years. The 5 most common countries of residence are: Australia (110,000), USA (98,000), Poland (86,000), Spain (85,000) and India (71,000).

Spain remains the most commonly visited country by usual residents of England and Wales emigrating for 1 to 12 months with 221,000 visits. The 5 most common countries visited are: Spain (221,000), India (198,000), France (193,000), Pakistan (159,000) and USA (141,000).

3 to 12 months – all reasons for migration

Short-term immigration for 3 to 12 months was estimated at 317,000 in YE June 2014, compared with 230,000 in YE June 2013, a statistically significant increase of 87,000 visits. Of these, 50% (160,000) were visits by EU citizens, 46% (145,000) non-EU citizens and 4% (12,000) British citizens.

In YE June 2014, EU citizens made 160,000 visits, a statistically significant increase of 43,000 compared with the previous year. This increase can be accounted for by an increase of 24,000 visits by EU15 citizens (not statistically significant) and a statistically significant increase in visits made by EU2 citizens (30,000 visits in YE June 2014 compared with 14,000 the previous year).

Non-EU citizens made 145,000 visits in YE June 2014, a statistically significant increase compared with the previous year (103,000). This increase can be partly attributed to a statistically significant increase in visits from North American citizens (34,000), up 21,000 compared with the previous year.

There were an estimated 399,000 visits away from the UK by England and Wales residents for 3 to 12 months in YE June 2014, compared with 384,000 visits in YE June 2013. Of these, 71% (282,000) were visits by British citizens and 29% (117,000) were visits by non-British citizens, a similar proportion to 1 to 12 months.

The most common countries of residence for 3 to 12 month visits to England and Wales are similar to those for 1 to 12 month visits, except for the 3 to 12 months visits where Australia is not in the top 5 countries. Instead Romania is and this is the first time it has featured here1. In YE June 2014 the 5 most common countries of residence were: USA (34,000), India (29,000), Poland (24,000), Spain (20,000) and Romania (20,000).

The 5 most commonly visited countries by usual residents of England and Wales emigrating for 3 to 12 months were the same as for 1 to 12 months but in a different order: India (46,000), France (29,000), Spain (25,000), USA (25,000) and Pakistan (22,000).

3 to 12 months – United Nations (UN) definition of a short-term migrant

The UN definition of a short-term migrant is for a visit of between 3 to 12 months for employment or study purposes. Short-term immigration as defined by the UN was estimated at 165,000 in YE June 2014, compared with 122,000 in YE June 2013, a statistically significant increase of 43,000 visits. Of these, 1% of visits were by British citizens and 99% were visits by non-British citizens.

In YE June 2014, EU citizens accounted for 64% of UN defined short-term international visits to England and Wales (106,000 visits), a statistically significant increase of 28,000 compared with the previous year. Around half of this increase can be accounted for by a statistically significant increase of 15,000 visits by EU2 citizens. Non-EU citizens made 58,000 visits in YE June 2014, compared with 42,000 the previous year (not statistically significant).

There were an estimated 44,000 visits away for 3 to 12 months as defined by the UN compared with 39,000 visits in YE June 2013. Of these, 93% (41,000) were visits by British citizens and 7% were visits by non-British citizens.

This pattern is different from the other definitions. More people visit England and Wales for 3 to 12 months for employment and study purposes compared with those who leave.

Short-term visas by nationality

Figure 5 shows trends in short-term visas issued for less than 12 months for work and study combined (including short-term study, previously described as “student visitors”) by world region of nationality since 2005, excluding a small number of visas that cannot be ascribed to a world area and are categorised as “Other”.

Total short-term visas issued fell from 159,000 in 2006 to 139,000 in 2009 and then broadly rose, reaching 202,000 in 2013. There was a small fall in 2014 (to 200,000) and then a larger fall to 171,000 in 2015 (-14%).

Notes on What do these latest figures show about short-term international migration over time?

  1. This follows the accession of EU2 countries (Romania and Bulgaria) to the EU in 2007 and the employment restrictions for EU2 citizens being lifted January 2014.
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4. Main reason for visit

There are 4 main categories for a person’s main reason for visit: employment, study, work (other) and “other”. Employment refers to the UN definition of employment (for details see section 5) but excludes those visiting on business for their existing employer; these are included in business (“work – other”) along with self-employment. Study includes all formal higher and further education but excludes evening and informal tuition. “Other” reasons can include activities such as:

  • holidays and travelling

  • working holidays and volunteering

  • medical treatment

  • religious pilgrimage

  • visiting family and friends

  • accompanying or joining others

1 to 12 months

“Other reasons” are the most common main reason for short-term international migration both to and from England and Wales. In the year ending (YE) June 2014, there were 719,000 short-term international visits to England and Wales for 1 to 12 months for “other reasons”. Just under half of short-term international visits to England and Wales for other reasons in YE June 2014 were made by non-EU citizens.

In YE June 2014, 2.2 million short-term international visits for 1 to 12 months were made for “other reasons” away from England and Wales. “Other reasons” accounted for just over 9 out of every 10 short-term international visits away from England and Wales for 1 to 12 months.

The recent information note on the difference between National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations and the estimate of long-term international migration used the 1 to 12 month short-term migration estimates for employment, study and work (other) to help explain the gap (Figure 7). This group was used as it is most likely to contain people who might register for a NINo. The “other” category was excluded from that analysis as, on balance, it was felt those people were less likely to apply for a NINo. However, it was acknowledged that some of this group would.

3 to 12 months

A similar pattern of reason for migration is observed for 3 to 12 months as it was for 1 to 12 months (Figure 8), which is to be expected as the 3 to 12 months visits are a sub-set of the 1 to 12 months. The UN definition of a short-term migrant is reflected by the first 2 bars.

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5. Short-term international migration for employment

The datasets that accompany this release provide data for all 3 definitions of a short-term migrant. The next 2 sections report on the 1 to 12 months definition and the 3 to 12 months data that are available at local authority level, for the other definitions please refer to the accompanying STIM tables.

This section explores patterns of employment (including those looking for a job), there are 2 definitions of “employment” to consider:

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

  • other employment (in tables this is labelled as “work (other)”) refers to migrants visiting on business for their existing employer and for self-employment

In YE June 2014, employment and work (other) accounted for 21% (and for every year since YE June 2004, approximately 20%) of short-term international visits from outside the UK. In contrast, employment and work (other) accounted for 8% of all short-term international visits away from England and Wales.

Short-term immigration for employment and work (other)

Figure 9 shows that in YE June 2014, 138,000 international visits were made to England and Wales for 1 to 12 months for employment. Comparisons of citizenship and short-term immigration for employment show that, of visits to England and Wales for employment, 91% (125,000) were made by EU citizens. This is a statistically significant increase of 33,000 on the previous year and can be accounted for by a statistically significant increase of visits for employment purposes by EU2 citizens (29,000 in YE June 2014, up 17,000 compared with the previous year) and EU8 citizens, up 14,000 but this was not statistically significant. For non-EU citizens, short-term immigration for work (other) was more common, with 51,000 visits made for work (other).

Visits for 1 to 12 months to England and Wales for employment were consistently higher than visits for employment made overseas by usual residents of England and Wales.

Short-term emigration for employment and work (other)

Employment and work (other) accounted for 8% (191,000) of all estimated international visits away from England and Wales for 1 to 12 months in YE June 2014. The majority (88%) of these visits were made by British citizens. For non-EU citizens, short-term emigraion for work (other) was more common, with 133,000 visits made for work (other), a statistically significant decrease of 43,000 compared with the previous year.

Short-term visas for work (non-EEA nationals)

Home Office data on the number of entry clearance visas issued show that of the 166,000 work visas issued in 2015, 49,000 (30%) were short-term. Of the short-term work visas, 14% were for less than 3 months, 53% for between 3 and 6 months and a further 33% were for from 6 months to less than a year.

The latest figures show that, from 2014 to 2015, there was a 25% (16,000) decrease in short-term work visas issued, from 65,000 to 49,000. The recent fall in short-term work visas issued is almost entirely accounted for by a 15,000 fall in visas of under 365 days issued in the category “short-term intra-company transfers” (with a concurrent increase of 14,000 issued for exactly 365 or 366 days moving them in to the long-term category in line with Office for National Statistics (ONS) definitions for long-term migration). The vast majority (97%) of the 15,000 decrease was for Indian nationals.

Short-term international immigration for employment, 3 to 12 months by local authority

Using a range of administrative data sources, it is possible to estimate the number of short-term international visits made to each local authority in England and Wales for employment reasons for 3 to 12 months (Figure 10). The local authority totals will not compare exactly to the national estimates as local authority estimates refer to moves made to the UK for 3 to 12 months for purposes of employment and study by non-UK residents who are not British citizens. For more information about how local authority estimates are calculated, please refer to the short-term international migration methodology – local authority estimates.

In YE June 2014, the highest estimates of short-term international visits made for employment for 3 to 12 months were to London, 41% (31,489) and the South East of England, 14% (10,541). This compares with YE June 2013, where London again had the highest estimate of short-term international visits, 37% (19,287), followed again by the South East of England with 14% of visits (7,445). The North East (1%, 851) and Wales (2%, 1,365) had the lowest estimates of short-term migration for employment for 3 to 12 months. This was also the case the previous year.

Table 1 shows the 10 local authorities in England and Wales with the highest estimates of short-term international migration for employment in YE June 2014, alongside the estimates for previous years. With the exception of Birmingham, the areas are all in London.

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6. Short-term international migration for study

Short-term international migration for 1 to 12 months for study includes all formal higher and further education but excludes evening classes and informal tuition.

Of the 1.2 million short-term international visits to England and Wales in the year ending (YE) June 2014, 17% (196,000) were made for study purposes. By contrast, of visits made by England and Wales residents overseas for 1 to 12 months, only 2% (41,000) were made for study.

Figure 11 shows that in each year for which data are available, considerably more short-term international visits have been made to England and Wales for 1 to 12 months to study than have been made away from England and Wales to study. However, short-term emigration for study is at the highest level since estimates began in 2004.

Comparisons of citizenship and short-term immigration for study show that, of those international visits to England and Wales for study, 60% (117,000) were made by citizens of non-EU countries. This is a statistically significant increase from YE June 2013 when 86,000 estimated study-related visits were made. This increase can be partly attributed to a statistically significant increase in the immigration of North American citizens for study purposes, up 13,000 to 36,000.

Short-term visas for study

There are 2 kinds of study visa referenced in this report: short-term (less than a year) regular sponsored study visas and short-term study visas (previously described as “student visitors”). For more information about these types of visa, please refer to the glossary.

In 2015, 60,000 short-term sponsored study visas and 63,000 short-term study visas were issued. Of the 63,000 short-term study visas issued, 85% were issued for up to 6 months and 15% were issued for the extended period of up to 11 months. Figure 12 shows trends in short-term visas issued for sponsored study and short-term study for 2005 onwards.

Of the 60,000 short-term (under 365 days) sponsored study visas issued in 2015, 8% were for less than 3 months, 41% for between 3 and 6 months and a further 51% were for from 6 months to less than a year.

Combining the short-term regular sponsored study visas and short-term study visas gives 82,000 visas that were issued for less than 6 months (67%) and 40,000 (32%) for more than 6 months but less than a year.

The most recent available data for short-term study passenger arrivals is for 2014, when there was a 6% (16,000) increase. This increase follows a large fall in 2013 of 12% (36,000). These data include large numbers of non-visa nationals (such as the United States and Brazilian nationals) who, if studying for less than 6 months do not require a visa.

The rise in short-term study admissions data was driven by a large increase of 51,000 for United States nationals. This follows a large decrease of 75,000 in the previous year. The United States accounted for the largest proportion of short-term study admissions in 2014 at 121,000 (43% of admissions) with Brazil (7%), Japan (6%) and Russia (5%) the next largest nationalities.

Short-term international immigration for study, 3 to 12 months by local authority

In YE June 2014, 87,000 short-term international visits were made to England and Wales from outside the UK for 3 to 12 months for study, compared with 68,000 in the previous year. Figure 13 shows how these visits were distributed across local and unitary authorities in England and Wales.

Similar to employment, the region within England and Wales with the highest estimates of short-term immigration for study is London, to which 32% (27,840) of all short-term international visits were made. A further 15% (12,792) were made to the South East of England. Wales (3%, 2,613) and the North East of England (4% ,3,222) had the least amount of short-term immigration visits for study purposes.

Sheffield (4%, 3,448) had the highest estimates of short-term international visits for study of any local authority in England and Wales, closely followed by Brighton and Hove (4%, 3,051).

Table 2 shows the 10 local authorities in England and Wales with the highest estimates of short-term international immigration for study in YE June 2014, alongside the estimates for previous years. Four of the areas are London boroughs and the remainder are cities home to multiple universities and further education providers.

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7. How many short-term migrants are in or away from the UK at any one time?

Short-term international migration estimates can also be used to estimate the impact of short-term international migration on the overall population. For example, if 4 migrants each stayed in England and Wales for 3 months, this would be the equivalent of 1 person staying for 1 year, and so the “stock” equivalent would be 1. Likewise, 2 migrants staying for 6 months would give the equivalent of 1 person staying for 1 year. In the second example, the number of arrivals is half that of the first example, but results in the same stock estimate. Stocks are calculated from the number of stays and the length of stay, so an increase in either can lead to an increase in stocks. Stocks give an average number of migrants in the country on an average day. For more information about how short-term international migration stocks are calculated, please refer to the short-term international migration methodology – national estimates. Stock estimates are referred to as “in-stock”, that is, those coming into England and Wales, and “out-stock”, those who have left England and Wales.

An estimate of net short-term international migration based on flows data is not appropriate (for more information, please refer to Annex A: Definition of short-term international migration), but these stocks estimates do show that the impact of short-term migration, on average, reduces the resident population in England and Wales using either the 1 to 12 month or 3 to 12 month definition.

Figures 14 and 15 show the in-stocks and out-stocks between year ending (YE) June 2004 and YE June 2014 using the 1 to 12 month, 3 to 12 month and UN definitions of short-term migrants for British, EU and non-EU nationals.

These show that the in-stock of short-term migrants is lower compared with the out-stocks using the 1 to 12 month and 3 to 12 month definition but that the converse is true using the UN definition. This latter point reflects the narrow UN definition and that there are more short-term migrants coming into the country for employment and study purposes for 3 to 12 months compared with those leaving on a short-term basis for these reasons.

Not surprisingly, the majority of the in-stock of short-term migrants comprises both EU and non-EU citizens whilst most of the out-stock of short-term migrants comprises British citizens.

On an average day in YE June 2014, there would have been approximately 17 usual residents of England and Wales visiting abroad for 1 to 12 months for every 10 short-term migrants in England and Wales for 1 to 12 months from outside the UK.

Using the 3 to 12 month definition, there would have been approximately 13 short-term migrants in England and Wales from outside the UK, for every 16 usual residents of England and Wales visiting abroad in YE June 2014.

Conversely, using the UN definition there would have been approximately 10 short-term migrants in England and Wales from outside the UK, for every 3 usual residents of England and Wales visiting abroad in YE June 2014. This reflects the point made above that there are more short-term migrants coming into England and Wales for study and work purposes compared with those leaving for these reasons on a short-term basis. However, these numbers are much smaller than using the other definitions of short-term migration.

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8. Annex A: Definition of short-term international migration

Estimates of short-term international migration for England and Wales are available on the basis of 3 definitions:

  1. the 1 to 12 months definition, which includes those migrating for all reasons

  2. the 3 to 12 months definition, which also includes those migrating for all reasons

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

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

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

Our estimates of short-term international migration, for all 3 definitions, refer to the mid-year, which is 1 July to 30 June. Home Office short-term visa data refer to calendar years.

What about net migration?

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

How do our short-term international migration estimates compare with Home Office data on short-term visas?

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

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

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

At the boundary between long- and short-term visas only a small proportion of visas are issued for exactly a year (365 or 366 days).

Please also note that some data presented in this report is based on a more recent extract from the underlying administrative data source, and therefore may not exactly match totals published in the Home Office report, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016.

Where do the data come from?

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

Short-term migrants are interviewed by the IPS at the end of their stay; therefore, if their actual reported length of stay is for 1 to 12 months and they match the above definitions, they will be included in the short-term international migration estimates. There are overlaps between short-term international migration statistics, which count visits by “migrants” of 1 to 12 months, and travel and tourism statistics, which count visits by “visitors” of over 1 day but less than 12 months. Estimates of these “visitors” are considerably higher than those of short-term migrants, partly due to the fact that the majority come for less than 1 month and are therefore not included in STIM estimates. Although there is some overlapping sample between the 2 statistics, they examine different characteristics.

The year ending (YE) June 2014 estimates presented in this bulletin are provisional. This is because IPS data are only finalised when a full calendar year's interview data can be calibrated against annual passenger figures supplied to the IPS by the Civil Aviation Authority and the British Ports Authority. YE June 2014 estimates of short-term migration will include data collected up to 30 June 2015 (because short-term migrants are interviewed at the end of their stay). Provisional estimates are replaced with final estimates when the data are republished in the following year; for example, final YE June 2013 estimates are included in this report, having been published as provisional estimates on 21 May 2015. In practice, only a very small percentage of the interviews used to build the estimates for the most recently published mid-year will have been collected in the most recent calendar year, so the final estimates will differ only slightly from the provisional estimates.

For more information about how England and Wales short-term international migration estimates are calculated, please refer to the short-term international migration methodology – national estimates and the short-term international migration – frequently asked questions.

Short-term international immigration estimates for local authorities in England and Wales are derived by distributing national England and Wales estimates to the local authorities on the basis of administrative information about short-term migrants from a number of different sources. Local authority estimates use only the UN definition because these administrative sources are only available for workers and students, and are not sufficiently robust to provide information on those staying for less than 3 months. Estimates of short-term international emigration from local authorities are not available because there are no suitable data available to distribute estimates of short-term emigration from local authorities.

For more information about how local authority estimates are calculated, please refer to the short-term international migration methodology – local authority estimates. Further migration data for local authorities are also available in the Local Area Migration Indicator Suite.

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9. Glossary

Citizenship

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

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

Commonwealth (ONS statistical grouping)

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

Confidence interval

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

Country of usual residence

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

European Economic Area (EEA)

The EEA consists of the 28 countries of the EU (see below), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Swiss nationals are treated as EEA nationals for immigration purposes.

European Union (EU)

The EU consists of 28 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 – data with a reference period after that date will include Croatia within the EU grouping. 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. Ten 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.

Long-Term International Migration (LTIM)

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

Nationality

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

Non-visa nationals

Non-visa nationals are nationals who do not require a visa to enter the UK. European Economic Area (EEA) nationals do not normally require a visa to enter the UK (although a small number of EEA nationals do apply and are issued visas). Additionally, for those non-EEA nationals classified as “non-visa nationals” (for example, citizens of the USA, Brazil and Japan) a visa is not normally required for visits of less than 6 months. There are 2 ways in which non-visa nationals can enter the UK for work and study purposes without a visa. Non-visa nationals are allowed to work in the UK without a visa, but only for sporting or creative work of less than 3 months duration, this falling outside the scope of the UN definition of a short-term migrant. However, for study there are many more admitted into the UK under the short-term study visa scheme than visas issued, as non-visa nationals are allowed to study under the scheme for up to 6 months without a requirement for a visa.

Old Commonwealth (ONS statistical grouping)

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

Points-Based System (PBS) – study

The Points-Based System (PBS) in part rationalised the immigration control processes for people coming into the UK for study. The PBS has 5 “tiers”, 1 of which (Tier 4) provides a route for students to study with an approved education provider. Tier 4 was implemented in March 2009. Data shown for “study” includes visas issued under Tiers 4 and pre-PBS equivalents.

Points-Based System (PBS) – work

From 2008, the Points-Based System (PBS) in part rationalised the immigration control processes for non-EEA nationals coming into the UK for work. 4 of the 5 tiers (Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 5) relate to permission to work:

  • Tier 1 provides a route for high value individuals

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

  • Tier 3 relates to unskilled workers (never implemented)

  • Tier 5 is for temporary workers and youth mobility schemes

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

Short-term visa

A short-term visa is defined as being a visa of less than 12 months duration. The UN definition of short-term migrants relates to those who change their country of usual residence for between 3 and 12 months for the purposes of work or study. In line with this UN definition, the analysis of visas presented here relates solely to those who have arrived in the UK for work or study on short-term visas.

It is important to recognise that visa duration does not necessarily represent the length of stay, as many individuals will depart prior to the expiry date. Individuals may also be granted extensions of stay. It is, therefore, not possible to determine whether a holder of a visa has actually stayed for 3 months or more.

Most short-term student visas are issued for a fixed 6 months duration, or in some limited conditions for 11 months (with no possibility of extension in either case); because visa duration does not necessarily represent the length of stay, it is not possible to make any inference as to whether an actual visit exceeded 3 months from the 6 months fixed visa duration. Similarly, short-term visas issued for work and for regular study are likely to reflect an individual’s initial planned length of stay, with the actual length of stay potentially being longer due to extensions for work placements or study courses.

The figures presented here relate to visas issued for entry clearance to the United Kingdom, and do not related to individual countries within the UK. The figures include dependants.

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.

Short-term study

The short-term study provisions allow for individuals to come to the UK to undertake short courses or periods of no more than 6 months at a specified type of educational institution. Unlike Tier 4 this study can be at any level and does not have to lead to a qualification. In addition to the 6 month route there is a concession for those studying English language courses longer than 6 months in duration, which allows individuals to study on English language courses up to 11 months in duration. The intention of these provisions is to enable an individual to study up to the level required to qualify for Tier 4 of the Points-Based System.

The term “regular study visa” is used to denote those visas issued through the main study visa system. Figures are also presented for the short-term study visa scheme. There is some overlap in duration between short-term study visas and regular study visas (for example, both could be granted for 6 months), where applicants have a choice as to which to choose (with there being generally more restrictions placed on short-term study visas).

Types of Intra-company Transfer Visa - short-term staff

This visa is for transfers up to and including 12 months into a role that cannot be filled by a new UK recruit. Applicants need to have worked for an employer overseas for at least 12 months.

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11 .Background notes

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

  2. Terms and conditions

    A National Statistics publication

    National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They are produced free from any political interference. The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs
    • are well explained and readily accessible
    • are produced according to sound methods
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest

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

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

  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting the UK Statistics Authority website 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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