The number of immigrants in the UK is often a hot topic in the UK news. If the number gets too high, there is the fear that UK resources could be stretched, with not enough housing, schools, doctors or dentists to go around.
This is a flawed argument, as it assumes that all people coming to the UK will only take from the system and not contribute.
In fact, the vast majority of immigrants are chasing job opportunities and will often take up roles in shortage occupations. This includes teaching and healthcare, which means they are contributing towards improving the system, not simply taking away.
Alongside the number of immigrants coming to the UK, we also have to take into consideration the number of people leaving the UK. This can include British citizens and immigrants that have decided to return to their home country or move to another destination.
There is the assumption that the UK is one of the most desirable places in the world to live, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Other countries are pulling ahead of the UK and making it easier and more attractive for skilled workers to settle down, even if only for a short time.
Immigration is not something that we should fear, but it is interesting to note trends in immigration numbers, including how many people are setting their sights on life in the UK every year. Let’s look at the numbers in more detail.
Between June 2022 and June 2023, a total of 1.2 million immigrants settled in the UK. Of these, 129,000 were EU nationals while 968,000 were from outside the EU. To balance this out, 508,000 emigrated from the UK (left the country), giving us a net migration total of 672,000.
If we look at the total number of non-UK born individuals settled in the UK, we have to look back a few years. According to the Migration Observatory, if we look at a 10-year period between 2011 and 2021, we can see an increase in the foreign-born population in the UK.
In 2011, there were 5,097,000 non-EU migrants and 2,564,000 EU migrants in the UK. The total UK population at this time was 63,182,000. By 2021, this has increased to 6,058,213 non-EU migrants and 3,467,519 EU-migrants in the UK. The UK population at this time was estimated to be around 67,330,000.
By 2021, foreign-born nationals were thought to make up around 14.5% of the total UK population.
UK immigration has been higher in recent years because of global pressures. During the pandemic, movement was stifled, so many people postponed their plans to move around. Many EU workers in the UK also used this as an opportunity to move back to their native country before lockdown measures were implemented.
Since the pandemic has eased, we have seen global incidents like the war in Ukraine leading to a high number of humanitarian visa applications being granted. The UK also offered Hong Kong residents a new path to living and working in the UK through the British Nationals (Overseas) visa scheme. Around 144,000 Hong Kong residents took advantage of this visa opportunity between 2021 and 2023.
As with most countries in the UK, migrants will often stick to the largest cities. London was the most popular spot for immigrants, with over 35% of all migrants making the capital city their home. When we include the whole of the South East, around 49% of all migrants were settled in this area in 2021.
The West Midlands was the most popular area after this, housing around 9% of migrants. The East of England and the North West are both home to around 8% of the migrant population.
When making the decision to move to another country, migrants will often go to areas where others have gone before them. These community ties make it easier to integrate with the community. Many migrants will find it easier to forge connections, find familiar food or to practise their religion when they choose areas where other people from their country or region have settled.
While the UK might be tightening up restrictions on immigration, it remains an attractive place to settle. The UK labour market is strong, with job opportunities in a wide range of industries including healthcare, social care, scientific research, finance and more.
After paying the Healthcare Surcharge, migrants will have access to the NHS, which is one of the leading healthcare systems in the world. The majority of visa routes will lead to the possibility of securing indefinite leave to remain, which can be followed by Citizenship. This is an attractive prospect for those thinking about making the UK their permanent home.
The UK government is determined to get UK immigration numbers under control, and we can expect to see changes to the immigration routes that will make it more difficult for individuals to move to the UK unless they work in sectors with severe shortages. At the moment, this includes social care and health care.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with UK immigration law and a finger on the pulse of the latest developments. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!