Net migration to the UK hit a new record high of 606,000 last year, driven by people from non-EU countries arriving for work, study and humanitarian reasons, new estimates show.
The figure, which is the difference between the number of people moving to the UK and the number leaving, is up from 488,000 in 2021.
The estimates include people who have come to the UK from Ukraine and Hong Kong under resettlement schemes, as well as overseas students – though there are signs that those who first arrived for study reasons in 2021 are now starting to leave, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which compiled the figures.
A total of 1.2 million people are likely to have migrated to the UK in 2022, while 557,000 are estimated to have migrated from the UK in the same period.
Jay Lindop, ONS director of the centre for international migration, said a series of “unprecedented world events throughout 2022”, together with the lifting of restrictions following the Covid-19 pandemic, led to record levels of international immigration to the UK.
He continued: “The main drivers of the increase were people coming to the UK from non-EU countries for work, study and for humanitarian purposes, including those arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong.
“There are some signs that the underlying drivers behind these high levels of migration are changing. As lockdown restrictions were lifted in 2021, we saw a sharp increase in students arriving. Recent data suggests that those arriving in 2021 are now leaving the country, with the overall share of non-EU immigration for students falling in 2022.
“In contrast those arriving on humanitarian routes increased over the 12 months. Evidence also suggests immigration has slowed in recent months, potentially demonstrating the temporary nature of these events.”