Net migration to the UK in 2010 was 252,000 – the highest figure for any calendar year on record, statistics show.
However, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that immigration remained at roughly the same 591,000 but there was a fall in the number of people leaving the UK.
Provisional data from the ONS for the 12 months to the end of March suggest net migration has since fallen slightly to 245,000.
The government has pledged to cut net migration to tens of thousands by 2015 and measures have been introduced to achieve this such as changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 working visas.
The figures show the emigration of British citizens was at its lowest since 1998 at 136,000.
In fact, the number of British people leaving was at its lowest for 10 years with just 339,000 people emigrating from the UK.
Emigration for work abroad fell to its lowest level since 2006, reflecting the challenging global economic environment and a lack of job opportunities in other countries.
Net migration of people from the eight central and eastern European EU nations (A8) increased to almost 50,000 after substantial falls during the credit crunch.
Education remains the most common reason for people migrating to the UK. Some 238,000 international students arrived to study in the UK during 2010, the highest calendar year figure on record.
But provisional figures for March 2011 show that it has fallen by 7,000 from this high.
The number of students coming to the UK in 2011 and 2011 should be far lower following various ‘crackdowns’ and stringent new rules for Tier 4 students and private colleges.
International students are also being deterred by the end of the popular Post Study Work Visa (PSW).
The government’s net migration target – to cut the total to tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament – is the balance between the number of people who come to live in the UK for the long-term and the number who are leaving.
It does not include short-term immigration, such as students who come for just short of a year. Figures show that there was an increase in the arrival of people from outside the EU during 2010, reaching 322,000.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said the figures showed the government was right to take “swift action to overhaul the immigration system”.
Mr Green said: “Latest quarterly figures show a decrease in the number of student and work visas issued compared to a year earlier – an early sign that our policies are starting to take effect.
“The latest net migration figures are also encouraging, showing a fall since the recent peak in September 2010, but we are clear there is much more to be done.
“That’s why I will be announcing reforms to settlement and the family route which will help bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands over the course of this Parliament.” Source: BBC
Yesterday the government announced that UK work restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, who are EU citizens, will be extended until the end of 2013.
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