The BBC reports. New migration figures, which show that 239,000 more people arrived in the UK than those who left – pushing net migration up by 21% – need to be completely unpicked to understand what is going on.
Certainly it would be unwise to look at those headlines and draw any conclusions as to whether the coalition government has any hope of hitting its ambitious target to bring net migration down to tens of thousands over the course of the Parliament.
Everyone in government knows that the target is a huge challenge.
But today’s figures point to two really important elements of the equation which the government cannot control: emigration and European workers.
Immigration has been broadly stable since about 2006, bobbling up and down at just over half a million people a year.
But while immigration has stayed broadly the same, the figures show that fewer people are emigrating.
In the year to December 2008, a massive 427,000 people left the UK. The following December that number fell to 368,000 – and by end of last year it has fallen again to a low of 336,000, the lowest figure in almost a decade.
And it’s the changing balance between those arriving and those leaving that led to the 21% rise in net migration – even though the numbers actually arriving have hardly changed.
Of course, emigration does include some foreigners who have previously settled in the UK and then decide to move on. But it is the movement of British nationals which has a bigger effect.
In the year to December 2010, about 124,000 British citizens left the UK to live abroad. That’s not a statistically significant change on the year before – but it is about 70,000 down on the numbers who were going before the credit crunch.
For years, net migration has hardly been affected by the movements of European Union citizens largely because the number of EU workers arriving has been offset by the numbers leaving, including British citizens.
But now, while fewer British citizens are going abroad, more EU workers have been arriving than leaving, particularly from the Eastern and Central European “A8” nations – the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
During the recession, the number of A8 workers crashed – and at one point more were leaving than arriving. But very quickly, that trend reversed.
And although many parts of the UK have got used to the sight of Eastern European workers, their numbers have continued to rise rather than level off.
Figures compiled by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, an expert group, show that earlier this year there was a record 651,000 of these workers working in Britain. That figure is important not just because it’s high, but because it shows how migration changes rapidly – making medium-term bets on the trend rather tricky. Source: BBC.
This week research by CIPD showed that the proportion of employers planning to recruit migrant workers has risen despite the government’s immigration cap on non-EU workers.
The number of European migrants coming to Britain has increased considerably since the A2 countries, Bulgaria and Romania, joined the EU.
Some estimates put the number of Romanians in the UK at around 250,000 or even higher despite the restrictions on work.
Workers from former eastern bloc A8 accession countries such as Poland have full ‘free movement of Labour’ rights to work in the UK, however, their neighbours, Bulgaria and Romania, do not enjoy the same rights.
Bulgarians and Romanians who exercise their Treaty Rights (under Article 39) and apply for an accession card as students taking vocational or sandwich courses (e.g. NVQ/QCF in Health and Social Care), are allowed to work full time, as stated on their Yellow Cards.
The newly revised UK Border Agency website has a better look and feel and navigation seems faster, but previously published links to specific pages of the site may no longer exist.
For instance, the link for European Workers is now:
The link for ‘Bulgarian and Romanian nationals‘ is:
The UK Border Agency and Home Office website contains a vast amount of information which can be difficult to wade your way through the guidance and Immigration Rules.
The navigation section for European workers from Bulgaria and Romania also appears to have been simplified although finding specific information is still a challenge.
The BR1 Form in Section 9 states:
‘If sections 4 (Students) and 5 (Self-sufficient) have been completed: evidence of ‘Comprehensive Sickness Insurance’ cover in the UK and funds to show you are economically self-sufficient, e.g. a bank statement.’
In other words, the paragraph means you need comprehensive sickness insurance only if you are applying under both ‘student’ and ‘self sufficient’ sections.
Nevertheless, student applicants are being asked to take out private medical insurance policies and are being refused if they fail to supply the correct cover.
What is the correct insurance cover?
One insurance company manager told Immigration Matters that he has been trying to get clarification on the exact requirements from the UK Border Agency for several weeks.
Active Quote offers an easy to use online quotation and application system, but also has telephone support from advisers who are on hand to answer questions.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
STILL CONFUSED BY YELLOW CARD RULES?
Free presentations are being run at Bison UK Immigration Advisers for Employers, Romanians and Bulgarians – Monday to Friday, from 11am-12noon and 3-4pm. No need to book, just turn up.
Venue: 16 Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire WD6 1DL. Nearest Train Station: Elstree and Borehamwood Station; Buses from Edgware underground station: 107 and 292.