UK net migration hits record high amid Suella Braverman visa crackdown


Net migration has hit a new record high of 606,000 with around 1.2 million people arriving to live in the UK in 2022.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday have fuelled accusations that the government has “lost control” of migration just a few years after it was aiming to bring net figures below 100,000.

Suella Braverman announced a controversial crackdown on visas for international students’ families on Monday, which she claimed would cut net migration.

But official figures show several factors contributing to the total, including wider economic migration driven by shortages in sectors dominated by EU workers before Brexit.

Although a small fraction of the overall total, English Channel crossings also hit a new record in the year, and government schemes for Afghans, Ukrainians and British nationals in Hong Kong also brought in significant numbers of people.

Jay Lindop, director of the ONS’ Centre for International Migration, said: “A series of unprecedented world events throughout 2022 and the lifting of restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic led to record levels of international immigration to the UK.

“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.”

Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock told said the government had “lost control of the issue”.

“They have failed to have a strategy in place for our local labour market, and as a result of that, employers are being forced to reach for overseas immigration,” he told LBC Radio.


“We need a much more balanced approach, ensuring that we have the immigration we need of course, but that there’s much more opportunity for skills, productivity training, workforce planning to get our economy firing on all cylinders again.”

The ONS said that in 2022, 1.2 million people arrived to live in the UK long-term – 925,000 non-EU nationals, 151,000 EU nationals and 88,000 British people – while 557,000 people emigrated.

“People coming to the UK from non-EU countries for work, study, and for humanitarian purposes, including unique events such as those arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong, have contributed towards relatively high levels of immigration over the past 18 months,” a report said.

“However, growth has slowed over recent quarters, potentially demonstrating the temporary nature of these impacts.”

Days after the home secretary announced controversial restrictions on international students’ to bring their children and loved ones to live in the UK during their courses, the ONS said the majority of students “leave at the end of the study”.

“Those who arrived for study reasons in 2021 are now starting to leave, driving an increase in total emigration from 454,000 in 2021 to 557,000 in 2022,” it added.

Rishi Sunak vowed to “stop the boats” but crossings continued to rise in 2022

(WPA Rota)

The ONS revised up its previous estimate of net migration in the year to June 2022 dramatically upwards from 504,000 to 606,000 – bringing it to the same estimate as the year to December.

Separate figures released by the Home Office showed that almost 45,000 people crossed the English Channel in the year to March, with 90 per cent claiming asylum and Afghans remaining the top nationality.

The asylum backlog has hit a new record high, with almost 173,000 people awaiting an initial decision in March – above a previous peak in 1999.

Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “The human cost of the failure to process asylum claims is staggering. Many people wait years for a decision in which time they’re forced to live in poverty, banned from work, segregated from communities and detained in run down hotels.

“The government’s Illegal Migration Bill is going to make things much worse. People will still have to make the deadly Channel crossing because this Bill creates no new routes for people to safely reach the UK while our refugee resettlement schemes are failing.”

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Net migration to UK climbs to new record of 606,000